Calling all iPhone users (4S and above, at least)! If you have updated to iOS7, then you may want to check out the upper right corner of your home screen. There you will find (unless it has been turned off) a grey squiggle next to your battery. Your phone has been Bluetooth enabled, but that’s not entirely new. iPhones have worked with Bluetooth for a few years now, but something changed in 2011 after the release of the 4S—something that would change Bluetooth forever.

Before 2011, people were somewhat skeptical about the future of the technology. We all know now that all their fears were unwarranted. Bluetooth Smart Technology changed the direction of Bluetooth tech, and has widespread implications for app-developers, IT professionals, and mega-corporations like Apple and Google. Smart or Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) is the intelligent, power-friendly version of Bluetooth wireless technology. Better security features and energy efficiency allows the technology to integrate seamlessly into a variety of devices. Here are a few ways that BTLE could shape the future:

Retailers are Already Implementing the Technology

The retail stores of the not-so-distant future will be able to target Bluetooth-enabled devices in their vicinity (such as your iPhone) and send you relevant offers. And by future, we meant that Macy’s is already testing the idea with iBeacons and an app called Shopkick.

Saving Lives One BTLE Device at a Time

The biggest obstacle to portable medical devices thus far has been the significant amount of power typically needed to operate said products; BTLE changes this. By drawing less power, Bluetooth 4.0 will allow greater connectivity between portable medical devices and a user’s cellphone or computer.

Imagine a child who has just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The child goes to sleep, but needs to have his glucose levels (the amount of sugar in the blood) checked a few times during the night. That means his parents have to get up, wake him up, prick his finger, check his glucose, and then get him back asleep. That can result in a lot of stress for both the parents and the child. Now, let’s say that child has a BTLE enabled glucose monitor that has been implanted into his skin. That device will track his vitals and could send warning notifications to the parents’ phones when necessary.

Mobile Payment Apps Could Become a More Viable Alternative

Mobile payment apps like Square Wallet are seen by many as interesting concepts, but not quite practical enough for real-world application. Bluetooth 4.0, unlike traditional Bluetooth, does a much better job of encrypting information that had previously made mobile payments an internet hacker’s treasure trove. With added security, BTLE could save you some time in the checkout line. For example, if you are at a restaurant and are in a rush to leave, but the cashier has not given you your check yet, you could pay with Square Wallet. The application lets you pay when you want to pay, ultimately saving you time.

Total Home Automation is Finally Upon Us! Kind of…

It would be cool to be Tony Stark for a day; you get to be Ironman, you get cool cars, and you get to have Jarvis (his handy-dandy computer) wake you up in the morning. Just by speaking out loud, Stark can adjust the thermostat, the lighting in the room, and play music from any room in the house. BTLE technology has managed to take fiction and blend it with reality. More and more home automation products are beginning to hit the market, and while they are relatively expensive, they present a glimpse of the future. Philips Hue, a BTLE enabled light system, allows users to turn on the lights (and change their color) from their mobile phones.

The future of BTLE looks bright, and has the power to assist the growth of new technologies that could drastically change the world we live in. We’re excited, are you? Let’s talk about it on Facebook!

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