Bluetooth devices set to hit new high by 2026

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Annual shipments of Bluetooth-enabled devices are set to top seven billion by 2026, according to the technology’s industry body, driven by new categories of devices.

Bluetooth technology powers everything from smartphones and wearables to smart home devices and headphones, and is extending its reach into other areas, like virtual reality (VR), asset tracking, and low energy audio devices.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) said shipments slumped during the pandemic as Covid-19 related lockdowns hampered consumer demand and disrupted supply chains.

Bluetooth shipments

However, the market for consumer electronics recovered in 2021 and analysts expect to see faster then anticipated growth in 2022 when five million Bluetooth devices will be shipped.

“Every year, the Bluetooth SIG member community works hard to deliver innovations that improve the capabilities of Bluetooth technology and help shape new market trends,” said Mark Powell, CEO at Bluetooth SIG. “The forecasts in the 2022 Bluetooth Market Update reflect the tireless work of the many Bluetooth SIG members who are developing innovations that create a more connected world.”

Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Audio is one of the biggest growth areas, promising higher quality sound and lower power consumption for products like speakers, headsets and earbuds. By 2026, shipments of Bluetooth-enabled earbuds will reach 619 million – two thirds of all wireless headsets. In Meanwhile, the characteristics of LE Audio will enable entirely new products like smart hearing aids.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality devices will also be a source of growth as metaverse-related applications gather pace. The Bluetooth SIG says the number of compatible VR headsets will rise by 51% between 2022 and 2026, while AR units such as smart glasses will increase by 68%.

Shipments of Bluetooth-enabled real time locating systems (RTLS) will increase threefold by 2026, reaching 250 million.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.