The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced the release of Bluetooth 5.1, which brings with it a new direction-finding feature capable of detecting how far away and in what direction devices are to centimetre-level accuracy.

“Location services is one of the fastest growing solution areas for Bluetooth technology, and is forecasted to reach over 400 million products per year by 2022,” claims Mark Powell, Bluetooth SIG executive director, of his group’s decision to integrate the functionality into the latest version of the Bluetooth standard. “This is great traction and the Bluetooth community continues to seek ways to further grow this market with technology enhancements that better address market needs, demonstrating the community’s commitment to driving innovation and enriching the technology experience of users worldwide.”

“Since the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy in 2010, developers have been able to leverage Bluetooth to create powerful, low cost location services solutions for a variety of applications spanning across consumer, retail, healthcare, public venues, and manufacturing environments,” adds Andrew Zignani, senior analyst at ABI Research. “The new direction finding feature can help Bluetooth better address the varied and evolving needs of the location industry, enabling more flexible, scalable and futureproof deployments that will further accelerate the adoption of Bluetooth for location services in existing markets, while unlocking additional business opportunities for new applications and use cases.”

While the Bluetooth 5.1 standard has only been publicly released this week, companies are already implementing the direction-finding capabilities into their platforms – including Silicon Labs, which says the feature is accurate to five degrees for both angle-of-arrival and angle-of-departure (AoA and AoD).

The Bluetooth 5.1 standard is available to download for Bluetooth SIG members from the official website.