Bluetooth devices with HTML5 for business
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Bluetooth devices with HTML5 for business

To use a Bluetooth enabled device, we have to install a native app for the device, each app for a different device. Sounds like a hassle, right? What if I tell you that it is no longer the case? With the recent upgrades in Bluetooth and HTML5, you can use a web browser to connect to all your Bluetooth devices, with none the fuss.

Meet Web Bluetooth API

In simple terms, you can use websites to interact with Bluetooth devices. You still preserve the security of Bluetooth connections, but you are now able to directly connect without the need for native apps. In a way, this serves as an added security measure especially for home appliances as you now connect via Bluetooth which has a limited range, compared to connecting to the world wide web, open for access to anyone in the world.

HTML5 Bluetooth

The Web Bluetooth API aims to reduce the device attack surface open to attack from non-secure websites. The Application Program Interface would no longer rely on certification and installation but allows to user interface to give permission for access to the device.

So, what does Bluetooth and HTML5 have to do with each other?

First a small introduction to clear things up.

In keeping up with Internet of Things, Bluetooth came up with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a balance of both power and efficiency with low energy consumption makes it an integral part in connecting the billions of devices available in the market, ranging from fitness monitors to home appliances and even security systems. This means that you can unlock your door, control the thermostat, switch on the lights and even change channels on your TV using your mobile device.

HTML5, or Hyper Text Markup Language, is the most recent upgrade to the code that allows us to see this webpage. What is important is that you no longer need to download plugins (and the associated viruses) for almost anything you want to do online. You can stream music, movies and even build complex applications directly from the website.

Bluetooth device internet

In fact, if you are viewing this on Chrome, Opera, Safari, Firefox or Internet Explorer, chances are you are already using this HTML browser. However, not all will have the same features. The advent of HTML5 is in line with the current change where more and more people are using mobile device rather than the traditional laptops and desktops, where vector graphics are enabled to allow images other than photographs to retain the same quality even when displayed on screens on different sized monitors.

Put these two together and you have Web Bluetooth API. A mobile device, be it your smart phone or tablet, with a web browser which is compatible cross platforms to connect to all Bluetooth Low Energy compatible device. No native app needed.

Where are we now with Web Bluetooth API?

As of time of writing, the specifications are yet to be finalized. The good news is if you a developer, you can look check out https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2015/07/interact-with-ble-devices-on-the-web where Google offers a platform for you to try out the Web Bluetooth API to give your feedback regarding the spec or its implementation or anything else. Basically it offers you to be a part of this future! You can also try it out using Opera for Android Beta.

Use your Bluetooth devices via the Internet

The bad news is that there is no definite news as to when this technology will be officially released for the masses. There are still a list of issues that needs to be resolved given in GitHub under web-bluetooth. If you are a developer and really interested into Web Bluetooth API, go check this out: https://github.com/WebBluetoothCG/web-bluetooth/issues

Do you know that some companies hire developers costing up to $100,000 to build on the native apps for their device? With Web Bluetooth API, they no longer need to spend money for the development of separate apps for multiple platforms, but focus on developing their web page which offers a cross-platform interaction.

According to the Web Bluetooth Community, we can expect some new exciting development in the coming months. Please note that what you are about to find out are still in development. If you are in the advertising sector, you will be happy to hear that the smart people are enabling the API to scan for BLE advertisements within the proximity of the user device. For the those using Physical Web, the Eddystone Protocol will also be upgraded to allow the advertised website to be opened from the notification.
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