Forward-looking: Improvements in Bluetooth standards will soon allow for extremely accurate positioning and proximity sensing. Better tracking is greatly beneficial to industrial applications and has potential for novel uses in consumer-facing technologies. The only downside is that advertisers may know exactly where you are headed.
Numerous wireless technologies can be used to determine the approximate location of a device based on signal strength and response times. Today the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has revealed a feature that determines the direction in which a device is moving that will allow Bluetooth 5.1 devices to be found with pinpoint accuracy.
Currently, Bluetooth can be used to determine the proximity between two points, or may be used to find an absolute position. Locating a Bluetooth device within a few feet is already possible, but now evolution of standards will let chips be discovered within mere inches of their exact location.
Such precise positioning information is directly applicable in warehouses and distribution centers for use within ID tags. Real-time location systems can track objects and allow them to be retrieved as quickly as possible. Industrial use of tracking tags is intended to be a main focus of direction finding technology, but there still may be some trackers that help you find your lost set of keys.
On the consumer side of things, Bluetooth 5.1 and its new hyper-accurate positioning will be more frequently used for its enhanced proximity detection. Points of interest such as kiosks and digital signage incorporating Bluetooth will be able to operate in more densely packed environments while still accurately determining which endpoint a user wants information from.
The Bluetooth SIG shows a concept for an art museum that shares information about paintings using proximity detection. In today's age of data-driven marketing, there is little doubt that Bluetooth 5.1 will also be used for enhanced information gathering on foot traffic through buildings and venues.