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Bluetooth 4.2 promises a more private and powerful smart home

Bluetooth is finally cutting out the middleman and letting devices connect directly to the Internet without the assistance of Wi-Fi or other technology. Devices supporting Bluetooth 4.2, the latest update, will be able to use a router to get online, which means big things for smart homes. For devices like sensors or smart light bulbs, users can control them directly through the Internet, instead of requiring a hub that may not support every smart appliance in their home. It’s a useful feature if a homeowner’s smart bulbs and thermostat can’t communicate with each other.

An even more intriguing feature of 4.2 is its beacon-blocking technology. More and more retailers are using beacons to send notifications and track users; the new update makes opting in to these alerts a requirement. Because devices won’t activate with as many of these alerts, the new privacy feature also extends battery life. Expect more efficient connections between Bluetooth Smart devices, as data transfer is “up to 2.5 times faster,” according to the press release.

“Bluetooth 4.2 is all about continuing to make Bluetooth Smart the best solution to connect all the technology in your life – from personal sensors to your connected home,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG.

Getting all smart devices on board with 4.2 will take some time. “Privacy features may be available via firmware update, but it does ultimately depend on the manufacturer implementation,” a representative for the Bluetooth SIG told Ars Technica. In order to take advantage of the increased speed, older Bluetooth devices may need a hardware update.