Standards are created to govern a specific discipline. To create a set of rules an industry can follow, to create products that are considered safe, provide predictable functionality and, for the most part, are interoperable with other devices. In Wireless systems, there are two major categories of standards. Those that govern the lower level, or the Radio, and the standards that govern the Link Layer and functionality.
The lower level standards are created, maintained and managed by the IEEE. The standards that govern the Link Layer and functionality are managed by a group of companies, that otherwise compete, but for the sake of safety, proper functionality and interoperability, decide to work together to create Wireless standards for the industry. Among the leading standards groups are the Bluetooth® SIG, the NFC Forum and the ZigBee® Alliance. Each group is comprised of industry members, as well as a governing body. They collect fees and those fees are used to promote, protect and further develop the industry standards.
Developing New Wireless Standards
Wireless industry standard groups diligently work to develop newer, better, safer, more feature-rich standards. The motivation for a new standard could be anything from a breach in security, a bug fix, or adaptation to new requirements from users.
The process of creating a new standard can be simplified into a few phases:
From the above outline of the process, one can conclude that the process of creating any new or modified standard is lengthy, costly and risky. Companies and organizations that participate in the various standard groups invest millions of dollars in equipment, man-hours and otherwise time and money to create new and revised standards. A new standard bears the risk of being adopted by the user and live up to its’ promise. Therefore, most new standards, the ones that are considered as a major leap in the progress and evolution of wireless technology, provide both mandatory and optional features. When reading a new standard freshly minted by its’ group, notice that those new, yet to be adopted features are mostly coined as Optional.
Navigating the standards of the Bluetooth SIG, one of the leading Wireless standard groups for the IoT, follows the above-mentioned phases. These phases and practices are widely deployed by the Bluetooth SIG. In December 2016, the Bluetooth SIG released a new standard named Bluetooth 5.0 (reads Bluetooth five). Panasonic feels the SIG has released a well-balanced and well thought out standard that is tailored to the IoT as well as keeping the continuity of leading Wireless technology overall.
When considering Bluetooth 5.0 over its’ predecessor Bluetooth 4.2 please remember a few key points:
Panasonic is a proud member of many standard groups and invests millions of dollars every year in the development and adaptation of new standards. As a 100 years old company, Panasonic believes that new standards are the key to better and safer devices. New products using standard-driven devices provide a better life and a better world.