Last year in July, we reported about how Bluetooth Special Interest Group officially announced Bluetooth 5 in a formal press release. The organisation teased everyone when they unveiled that the new and improved technology would offer double the range and four times the speed of the current Bluetooth 4.2 standard in use.

While users will still have to wait for a few more months for Bluetooth 5 to reach their mobile devices, but the technology has finally reached developer boards designed to make gadgets and IoT devices.

For the inquisitive ones who can't wait to try their hands at the new tech, you can now test it on developer boards which are currently being shipped by hardware makers.

According to Mark Powell, Bluetooth Special Interest Group executive director, Bluetooth 5 is a new generation of Bluetooth technology. The technology, which hooks up multiple devices wirelessly, was first unveiled to the world in the year 1999 and since then its popularity has swollen like anything. Its latest will offer a realistic range of 120 meters and transfer data of up to 2 Mbps. The organisation claims that the range could be even longer in a clear line of sight.

The new offering would be best for those who pair mobile devices or PCs to peripherals like wireless speakers as with Bluetooth 5, there will be fewer connection drops than before.

It will also make it possible for a bluetooth device to transmit data from one device to many, a feature that will prove to be extremely beneficial in smart homes setups. For instance, if a home's surveillance system detects something fishy, it could make use of Bluetooth 5 to instantly activate the safety light and the alarm system of the house.
According to experts, Bluetooth 5 will also aid richer data broadcast, like location details and URLs. This would prove to be beneficial in setups that transfer navigation data, like retail stores or self-driving cars.

In December, the Bluetooth SIG said that Bluetooth 5 will reach devices in about two to six months. Smartphones and tablets that boost of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chips are most likely to become the first devices to have Bluetooth 5 in the chipset.

But why wait till then? You should definitely try your hands on the new Bluetooth 5 with the wireless boards which are currently shipping. The boards will come in handy for innovators developing internet of things devices or prototyping gadgets for automation or industrial settings.

While wireless boards such as Particle and Espressif Systems (which primarily make use of Wi-Fi technology) are extremely famous among the developer community, but several other boards with Bluetooth 5 functionality are already available or will soon be debuting in the market.

TI's SimpleLink Bluetooth Board

One of the firsts to embrace Bluetooth 5 was Texas Instruments. Its Launchpad Board wireless development kit, which comes at an attractive price point of $29, has been designed to test Bluetooth 5 applications in IoT settings. Available on TI's website, the kit has a 48Mhz ARM Cortex-M3 processor and comes with a set of inputs so as to connect sensors. The board will be upgradeable to the latest Bluetooth 5 when the full firmware stack is officially released.

Abelon Systems Bluetooth 5 for IoT

One of the best options for people developing prototype gadgets, Abelon Systems' IoT Reference Platform will offer its users a range of wireless connectivity technology, including the support for Bluetooth 5.

In addition to this, it will also be supporting ZigBee and several other low-bandwidth IoT connectivity technologies such as LoRaWAN or SIGFOX. Expected to be shipped later this year, the platform will come with some on-board sensors that will include a magnetometer, a gyrometer and an accelerometer, but it will also come with an option of attaching other sensors through interfaces. It has come with I2C and UART connector interfaces.

Nordic Semiconductor's Hardware Development Kit

A perfect development board for people looking to develop small electronics, Nordic's nRF52840 Preview Development Kit is compatible with Arduino Uno Revision 3, which is a very famous electronics development environment.

Priced between US$40 and $50, the board has 1MB of integrated flash storage, 256KB of RAM, and a 64Mhz Cortex-M4F processor. In addition to all this, it also comes with ARM Mbed support. It also has a USB 2.0 interface, an NFC interface and a number of connectors.

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