Most tech consumers don't give Bluetooth much thought. Sure you might use it to connect your smartphone to a hands-free headset, or a Bluetooth speaker, but other than that most people don't have a use for it.
Part of that is because Bluetooth has relatively limited speed, the same range as Wi-Fi and it doesn't network. For fast data transfers or long-range network communication, people use Wi-Fi instead. However, that will change in 2016 if the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has anything to say about it.
Made up of companies like Ericsson, Apple, Intel, Nokia, Microsoft, Lenovo and Toshiba, the group recently announced some big Bluetooth upgrades. The standard already had some upgrades recently with Bluetooth LE, which stands for "low energy," also called Bluetooth Smart. This boosted range while decreasing power consumption for mobile gadgets.
The next upgrade is going to see Bluetooth's range expand four times, from the current 330 feet to nearly a quarter of a mile. Data speed should also double, which will make Bluetooth much more useful for transferring large amounts of information.
Even more exciting, Bluetooth is going to get the ability to create mesh networks. In a typical network, gadgets only connect to a central hub, or router. That limits their range to whatever the router can handle.
However, with a mesh network, each gadget acts like a router and connects to the nearest gadgets. That means the range can extend indefinitely. So, every gadget in your house will work together so you never have a dead spot with a spotty connection.
As a growing number of household gadgets get "smart" and require Internet access, these changes could push Bluetooth to the front as the connection of choice.