Initially, Bluetooth technology was used for audio streaming, and later in applications such as wireless speakers and in-car infotainment systems. The 2010 introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) extended the wireless technology to low-throughput data transfer applications in sports and healthcare devices, computing peripherals, and accessories.
Key market expansion
Bluetooth LE chip shipments are being boosted across a range of product sectors. For example, shipments of Bluetooth LE-powered products in the key markets of sports & fitness, health & wellness, and peripherals & accessories are forecast to increase from 550 million shipments in 2018 to 850 million in 2022.
Bluetooth LE is also enabling new markets. For example, by using a broadcast topology, the technology can be used for location and asset-tracking in hospitals and factories, and beacon-based indoor navigation to guide visitors around an area or send retail information to their smartphones. These so-called location services are expected to increase more than four-fold, from a relatively low base, boosting chip shipments from 90 million in 2018 to 400 million by 2022.
Bluetooth mesh, a new development for Bluetooth LE introduced in mid-2017 and targeting smart-building networks, is also predicted to drive chip sales. The technology will make it easier
to configure, monitor, and automate building systems—such as lighting, heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC), occupancy, and security—to optimize a building’s energy use, and reduce operating and maintenance costs. The report notes that building these networks is expected to boost chip shipments in the sector from 170 million in 2018 to 520 million by 2022.
Market sectors where Bluetooth LE is already established are set to exhibit good growth through diversification. Wearables, for example, will extend into the enterprise sector in the form of smart glasses and wearable scanners for workers. Over 100 million enterprise wearable devices are expected to ship in 2022.
Elsewhere, specialized healthcare wearables—providing continuous updates on patients’ conditions—will increase by 28 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years. And in the home, Bluetooth-based consumer robots, to vacuum homes and mow lawns, are forecast to reach nearly 80 million in the same year.
Different applications demand different capabilities from the Bluetooth LE chip. A PC mouse is a simple application requiring a low-cost wireless chip. A more complex application such as smart lighting demands a mid-level chip while a complex product such as a premium wearable demands a high-end Bluetooth LE chip to support its sophisticated operation.