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Bluetooth 5.1's presence Detection can be the future of Smarthome

  Well illuminated at home at dusk
Dariusz Jarzabek

Bluetooth 5.1

lets devices track each other to the centimeter. But Bluetooth 5.1 is not just about finding your keys – this exact location tracking will let your smart home know who you are and where you are in your home.

Your Smarthome does not know where you are

Smarthomes are great for automating light, climate control or your coffee maker according to schedule, but they do not act according to your general behavior. This is because smarthomes are all based on schedules and commands, and most of the time there is no presence detection. Your home does not know your exact location; It is not aware of which room you spent most of the time in and without it it can not do things for you. At best, it can do things on your command (even if it is a scheduled command).

If you are outside your home, the problem will only get worse. When you leave or arrive, knowledge of your presence is dependent on geofencing. But geofencing can be wrong and triggered too late, too early or worst of all when you're not at home at all. The last possibility is that many smart devices limit their possibilities with geofencing; Most smart locks will not unlock a door based on geofencing.

RELATED: Bluetooth 5.1: What's New and Why It Happens

Bluetooth 5.1 Can Make Your Smarthome Smarter

Currently, Bluetooth is not very good at finding and finding things (or people). It can help you find the room an object is in, but it will not limit the location more than that, which is why tracking devices such as Tile and Trackr have audible alarms built into them. But Bluetooth SIG has introduced version 5.1, which dramatically improves site awareness. A Bluetooth 5.1 connection enables both direction and positioning down to the centimeter. That means you would know exactly where in a room an object is and in which direction. Or if you happen to have a Bluetooth 5.1 tag or phone, your smart home can know exactly where you are and in what direction you are moving.

Bluetooth 5.1 is not just for finding your stuff; It may be the future of the smarthome.

Your music can accompany you through the home

If you start a song on a smart speaker in your living room and then need to go to the kitchen to get a drink, you cannot bring your music with you, not least without headphones. The closest option is sound in several rooms, but playing music throughout your home is not always what you want. If you are alone at home, you do not need to play your music in the corner of the house. But if your smarthome could follow your way from the living room to the kitchen and back, your music could move with you with a graceful handoff from speakers to speakers. Or if you prefer, your music can stop or pause because you left the room.

Lamps can only be in the rooms you use

  Movie Night Home Theater Lounge

Just as you enter a wardrobe or bathroom, your home can discover you and turn on the lights for you. Late in the evening this would deny the need to fumble for a light switch or zipper. When leaving the closet or bathroom, the lights can be switched off. As you walk through your home, your lights can follow. If someone else is already present, the lights may be left when you leave.

The desired scenes, colors and brightness can be started automatically when you get home or enter a room. When you sit down on the couch to watch TV, the smarthome (with the ability to detect your position and direction to the centimeter) can realize where you are, that you are facing the TV and automatically turn on your electronics while putting down lights .

Smartering heating and cooling

Automatic control from room to room can go beyond light and music as well. With better presence detection, your home can more accurately turn off the heat or alternating current when you go to work. When you enter your bedroom on a sunny day, it can refrain from the lights and automatically raise the shades for you and leave it sunny. Knowing that you are in the study, your climate control can continue to heat, even if the thermostat normally finds that you are away and goes into ecology mode.

The same method for room control applies to devices connected to smart plugs, such as portable heaters or dehumidifiers.

Your Wi-Fi and voice assistant may be smarter, for

 An Amazon Echo and a Google home side by side

Mesh networks are becoming more common, especially in larger homes. They work with the idea of ​​merging with several wi-fi extenders and leaving a smart device to another without having to add additional passwords. But with presence detection, your network network can prioritize the closest router to you. By giving higher priority you should have better speed and a more reliable connection on all your devices.

Voice assistants would also benefit from getting a better idea of ​​who you are. Currently, both Alexa and Google Home support multiple user profiles and try to differentiate your voice, but it's not always reliable. And it is worrying that you must explicitly change profiles before you can access your music and your routines.

But with a Bluetooth 5.1 connection, your voice assistant would have an extra data point that physically matches you with you. It can compare the data it has in the direction of the voice with the information in the direction of your Bluetooth connection. This information would provide a more reliable experience that sets you apart from other users in your home.

Today's presence detection is not as good

  Artist development of smarthome automation system
Alexander Supertramp / Shutterstock

You can reach some of this now, but the solutions often leave something to be desired. Motion detectors cannot tell the difference between a human and a pet, and they cannot understand the difference between you and the others in your home. Cameras can tell the difference, but it involves face recognition, which can raise some issues of privacy. Geofencing is limited to arrival and departure and can be unreliable.

What about guests and privacy?

The only drawback to this proposal is that you need to carry something to do all this. You can be your Bluetooth 5.1 enabled phone (and possibly an app), or it can be a tag similar to what Tile or Trackr offers. If you forget the device at work or leave it in another room, the smarthome will not know where you are. And the only way to offer this to guests in your home would be to give them a Bluetooth tag or configure your phone to connect to your smart home system.

Not everyone will want to carry one of these tags or install an app, and it may even apply to the people who live in your home. Some confidentiality implications must also be considered. While you can talk to your smarthome less, it will not always replace listeners like Alexa and Google Home. And you may want to let Amazon, Google and other smarthome device makers know more about where you are in the home, and which rooms you most often find.

Like most smarthome tech, convenience and privacy is a balancing act, so this won't be for everyone. But better presence detection is an important missing component for smarthomes now, and Bluetooth 5.1 can be the way to unlock a smarter home.

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