How Bluetooth Technology Has Evolved over the Years ?

Women wearing Bluetooth Headset

The technological advancements in Bluetooth technology are phenomenal. It has rapidly evolved over the last few years and it is amazing to see how a small wireless technology has become a component of most of our devices- mobile phones, laptop, speaker, headphones, bluetooth keyboards for iPad Pro and even our watches.

Bluetooth is a wireless short-range communication technology that was developed to replace the cables.

The story of the invention of Bluetooth goes back to 1989 when Nils Ryderback, Chief Technological Officer (CTO) at Ericsson Mobile in Sweden, together with a physician Johan Ullman, hired two engineers Jaap Haartsen and Sven Mattison for developing a “short-link” radio technology for transmitting signals from personal computers to wireless headsets.

Women wearing Bluetooth Headset
Women wearing Bluetooth Headset

Apart from its history, the story behind its name and logo are also intriguing. Bluetooth has derived its name from the Danish king Harald Bluetooth who was responsible for the unification of the Danish tribes.

The name is significant of how Bluetooth unites the communication portals.

The logo is a combination of the Danish Runes for the initials, H and B, of the King.

In 1998, a group of 5 companies- Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba, established the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) to oversee the development, specialization, licensing and trademark of the technology.

Since its invention, the Bluetooth technology has changed significantly over a few years. Started from versions 1.0 and 1.0B, we have come a long way to version 5.2.

Just like any other invention, the initial versions Bluetooth 1.0 and 1.0B had many problems and it was not user- friendly.

Bluetooth 1.1 came to market and had rectified most of the errors of the previous versions.

However, the technology gained its popularity in 2004 when it became handy for people such that they could use it in their day-to-day activities.

2004: Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR

This version was implemented with Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) technology which boosted the data transfer to about 3 megabits per second (Mbit/s), which in reality, was approximately 2.1 Mbit/s. The power consumption was reduced almost to half.

2007: Bluetooth 2.1

This version had three main features. It was implemented with Secure Simple Pairing (SSP) which enabled an easier and secure pairing process. Another feature was sniff subrating which was designed to boost the battery life of devices that are inactive most times by reducing the active duty cycle of Bluetooth.

The third was Extended Inquiry Response (EIR) which improved the filtering process of devices that appear while scanning for connection.

2009: Bluetooth 3.0 + HS

This version was a significant upgrade from the last version because of its higher speed data transfer. It could transfer the data almost 11 times faster than the previous version, up to 24 Mbit/s, with the help of Wi-fi radio.

The unicast connectionless data was also introduced in this version which enhanced the response rate of the technology.

2010: Bluetooth 4.0

Bluetooth 4.0, also called Bluetooth Smart, was the project undertaken and developed by Nokia under the name Wibree.

This version came with various changes and features. It had an improved connectivity that could spread over a larger range and was equipped with the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) which aimed at lowering the power consumption, cost and complexity. 

This version also introduced two chips in the market- dual mode and single mode. The dual mode creates a 100% BLE device whereas the single mode adds the BLE feature to the existing Bluetooth controller.

In addition to this, Bluetooth 4.0 introduced Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) that allowed users to save their profile and provided a Security Management (SM) service with AES encryption for protecting the online activities of the users.

This version was an opportunity for health and fitness companies to innovate all kinds of new devices that could monitor and transmit the physical data to a smart device, such as heart rate monitors and thermometers.

2013: Bluetooth 4.1

This version worked out a few setbacks of the previous versions making it more convenient for the users. This version combined the functioning of LTE and Bluetooth resolving the problem of poor performance and battery drainage- an issue in the previous versions. It offered more control to the users over the connection- the channels could customize their inactive times for the Bluetooth. This version had the ability to treat any device as a peripheral and a hub simultaneously.

2014: Bluetooth 4.2

This version elevated the standards with the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT). It enhanced the speed of data transfer by 2.5 times by increasing the capacity of data packets. The security was also improved- the new features allowed the devices to be tracked only if the user gave permission.

2016: Bluetooth 5

This version solved a number of problems of the previous version including speed, range, data capacity, and several others, and retained the best features from all the previous versions. The speed was doubled and the range was increased up to fourfold. 

2019: Bluetooth 5.1

The highlight of this version was the upgraded performance of the location services. With the new features, the location of a device could be determined by analysing the direction of the connected devices. This version also allowed the users to know about all the devices in their vicinity that are available for pairing.

2020: Bluetooth 5.2

This is the latest version introduced in January 2020 by the Bluetooth SIG. The significant changes include the three features mentioned below:

Isochronous Channels (ISOC):

 This was designed to support the LE Audio allowing the communication of data to one or more devices with a time-synchronized processing.

LE Power Control (LEPC): This new feature dynamically optimized the transmission power, enhanced the quality of the signals, and improved the reliability through active maintenance of the signal strength on the receiver’s end. It improved the coexistence with other wireless devices that are in the 2.4 GHz band. 

Enhanced Attribute Protocol (EATT):

 It is an improvised version of the Attribute protocol (ATT). It allows concurrent transactions between a BLE client and a server and has improved the responsiveness.


It is astounding to see how far we have come from the first version to the existing ones in a short time.

The Bluetooth technology as undergone major changes since 1999 when it came to existence. The technological advancement and the constant efforts to make it suitable with times are worth noting and appreciating. It can be seen how developers have strived to improve the speed, connectivity, range, and several other aspects of the technology.