History tells us that users and manufacturers sometimes take a piece of technology beyond what standardization groups have envisioned at that time. Some standards try to rein in those changes. Good ones adjust and adapt. Luckily, the latter seems to be the case with the new Bluetooth 4.1 Core Specification that has seen current trends and makes provisions for the future.
The proliferation of devices that connect and transfer data via Bluetooth, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, has exposed inefficiencies in the way the current Bluetooth standard deals with things like data transfer and connectivity. Bluetooth 4.1 strives to address these limitations. For one, the standard now supports bulk exchange of data, which is perfect for sports applications.
The standard also addresses the issue of a device being both the recipient of data as well as the source. One slightly contrived but still plausible case would be a fitness tracker that is connected to a smartwatch while the smartwatch itself is connected to a smartphone. In the previous standard, the smartwatch can only take up one role. But in Bluetooth 4.1, it can be both a hub to the tracker as well as a peripheral to the smartphone. It will also be easier to automatically reestablish a broken connection without having to resort to switches or buttons.
It will take some time before Bluetooth 4.1 trickles down into devices, and it might even take longer in the case of Android devices. It was this relatively slow adoption, at least compared to the iPhone, of Bluetooth technologies on Android that has become the scapegoat for Nike’s lack of interest in bringing its FuelBand to the platform. With the addition of stronger Bluetooth support, particularly Bluetooth LE, in Android 4.3 and 4.4, we can perhaps see better adoption of the technology across the board in the future.