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Exciting New Features of Bluetooth 5.4

Wednesday, March 8, 2023


Bluetooth SIG has recently announced a new Bluetooth® v5.4 core specification that promises some exciting new features for compatible Bluetooth products. Developers can expect the new features of Bluetooth 5.4 to be specifically geared for the electronic shelf label (ESL) market. Bluetooth v5.4 will expand Bluetooth application possibilities, aid regulations in some markets, and support new technological innovation.

Figure 1: A history of Bluetooth core specification releases 
Source: Sordum

How Often Is a New Bluetooth Specification Released?

The first version of Bluetooth was established in 1999 (Figure 1). Since Bluetooth 1.0, Bluetooth SIG has released 13 core specifications every few years. Originally designed by Nokia, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) began as part of Bluetooth 4.0 in 2010. Today, BLE is widely adopted for its convenient low power data transfer properties and, according to Data Bridge Market Research, the global Bluetooth Low Energy Market is expected to reach $27.23 billion by 2028. It’s significant news that Bluetooth 5.4 introduces features that have been impossible to achieve in BLE until now.

Figure 2: Bluetooth Low Energy Star Topology

What Can Developers Expect with Bluetooth 5.4?

The key features that separate Bluetooth 5.4 from its predecessors include Periodic Advertising with Responses (PAwR), Encrypted Advertising Data, LE GATT Security Level Characteristics (SLC), and Advertising Coding Selection. When combined, PAwR and Encrypted Advertising Data enable secure and connectionless bidirectional communication with thousands of very low-power end nodes in BLE’s star topology (Figure 2).

Periodic Advertising with Responses

PAwR enables bidirectional communication in connectionless mode, a feature that has been impossible to achieve until Bluetooth v5.4. Now, PAwR can broadcast organized data in small packets in subevents. PAwR subevents present established time slots that can be synchronized and responded to. Additionally, observers (end nodes) can choose to respond to singular or multiple subevents on the application level. Scanning for subevents enables a particularly power-friendly solution as end nodes only need to scan for minute periods of time.

Encrypted Advertising Data

Before Bluetooth v5.4, Encrypted Advertising Data standardization was only established for connection-oriented communications. An Encrypted Advertising Data solution was driven by the fact that most ESL application data exchanges occur through PAwR. In Bluetooth v5.4, advertising data can be encrypted in totality or in a more specific subset.

LE GATT Security Level Characteristics

LE GATT SLC in Bluetooth v5.4 helps improve user experience by reducing glitches caused by delayed access security conditions. Now, developers can determine sufficient security modes and levels upfront.

Advertising Coding Selection

Advertising Coding Selection presents opportunities to control error correction data and increase communication range through S parameters. Hosts are able to determine specified coding schemes that controllers should use to transmit advertising PDUs.

Developing With Bluetooth 5.4

Electronic Shelf Label Profile is just the first use case of the combined attributes of PAwR and Encrypted Advertising Data. Bluetooth v5.4 is currently released as a draft version, but developers should expect new Bluetooth ecosystems and applications when the version is fully adopted. The new Bluetooth 5.4 core specification is well-suited for applications that have a large number of devices transmitting small amounts of data. If you’re interested in developing an ESL application with Bluetooth 5.4, our team of Applications Engineers are available throughout your design cycle. As experts in wireless, IoT, and IIoT, they are uniquely positioned to aid developments that integrate Bluetooth’s newest core specification. Consultation is free and available when you need it. Contact Symmetry Electronics today!


Tags: BLE , Bluetooth


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