Updated: Jan 22
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a radio-frequency (RF) wireless communication technology that may be used to identify and track the location of people, devices, and assets for a variety of indoor positioning use cases such as asset tracking, indoor navigation, proximity services, and more. Bluetooth is a technology that is quite common and accessible, and it is found throughout indoor places and is supported by a wide range of modern gadgets.
Bluetooth version was first introduced in 2010. Beacons rely on Bluetooth Low Energy's low energy consumption since it allows them to operate for years on tiny coin-cell batteries. It also consumes significantly less power than the old, clunky Bluetooth. In fact, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a key driver in the Internet of Things, allowing technology to last longer with fewer components.
A Bluetooth beacon is a small wireless device that communicates via Bluetooth Low Energy by emitting a continuous signal that other devices may detect. Instead of visible light, it emits a radio signal composed of a series of letters and numbers that are repeated at regular intervals. When a beacon is in range, a Bluetooth-enabled device, such as a smartphone, gateway, or access point, can determine its location.
What are BLE Beacons?
BLE beacons are low-power Bluetooth transmitters that can be detected by wireless devices such as BLE-enabled smartphones. To give location references for indoor positioning applications, beacons can be installed in fixed sites, such as affixed on walls or structures or placed on mobility assets. BLE beacons can be used to determine the location of a device and transmit relevant content, or to provide guidance regarding the user's time or location.
Beacons send out signals at periodic intervals that other BLE-enabled devices can detect. A BLE device collects location information from the beacons and sends it to the IPS to determine the device's location. This can be used to support a variety of location-aware applications and even to trigger specific actions.
Beacons come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many beacons feature long-lasting internal batteries that can run for years, or they can be powered via a USB connection. BLE technology is often less expensive to manufacture than other RF technologies, resulting in compact, low-cost, low-maintenance hardware alternatives that can be customised for deployments that meet your specific requirements. For improved outcomes, some beacons go beyond BLE and combine additional technologies such as accelerometers or temperature sensors.
Virtual beacons enable enterprises to implement BLE beacon technology without the need for additional hardware. Virtual Bluetooth beacons allow antennas to be added to compatible Wi-Fi Access Points and used in conjunction with additional software tools for a variety of indoor positioning applications.
Many typical enterprise-grade Wi-Fi access points now include built-in BLE technology. This enables companies to employ access points as both beacons and sensors capable of detecting and locating transmitting BLE devices without the need for a separate set of infrastructure.
What is the purpose of Bluetooth Beacons?
You can observe how full your workspace is using room-level monitoring. You can conserve office space while enhancing utilisation, employee happiness, and productivity by measuring meeting room, floor, and seat-level occupancy.
Reduce your carbon footprint while enhancing employee satisfaction. Temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, light, movements, and air quality are all monitored in real-time.
Make your workplace a safer place to work by implementing the following measures:
Automate the people count in muster zones and the identification of workers' and visitors' whereabouts in the case of an emergency.
Control the visitor flow. Provides a consistent approach for real-time visitor tracking, linking hosts and guests while ensuring safety, security, and compliance, which improves security management.
Enable seamless indoor navigation turn-by-turn navigation can help you improve your orientation inside your building and make it easier for your staff and visitors to find their way to certain rooms so they don't miss their appointments.
Aid in monitoring environmental conditions. A beacon helps to evaluate environmental conditions, such as temperature, pressure, and humidity. Bluetooth beacons can be used to monitor and track asset data such as temperature, pressure, and humidity.
Small form factor with indoor/outdoor capabilities that can be used for a variety of applications: Ideal for cold chain tracking, tool tracking, equipment tracking, package tracking, and pallet tracking.
Low power demand means low maintenance and longer life. Warehouses, logistics, transportation, construction, healthcare, and agriculture are all common applications.
Why is Bluetooth Positioning so Useful?
Utilizing BLE-enabled sensors or beacons, these solutions are able to locate Bluetooth devices transmitting inside an indoor space such as smartphones or tracking tags. Data gathered by sensors or transmitted by beacons become location-aware data when ingested by various location-aware applications and transformed into insights that drive a variety of location-aware applications.
Sensor-Based Bluetooth Low Energy Positioning
BLE placement using sensors uses BLE-enabled sensors that are fixedly placed across an indoor space. Based on the received signal strength of the transmitting device, these sensors passively detect and locate broadcasts from BLE smartphones, asset tracking tags, beacons, personnel badges, wearables, and other Bluetooth devices.
This location information is subsequently transmitted to the central indoor positioning system (IPS) or real-time location system (RTLS). The location engine examines the data and uses multilateration techniques to determine the transmitting device's position.
Depending on the location-aware application, such coordinates can be utilised to visualise the location of a device or item on an interior map of your space or exploited for other purposes.
Beacon-based BLE positioning
BLE beacons send out BLE signals on a regular basis. Surrounding devices, such as smartphones and BLE-enabled sensors, may detect these signals. The signal continuously transmitted by the beacon, which is deployed in fixed spots throughout an indoor environment, contains its unique identifier. Depending on the beacon communication protocol used, this identifying code is sent out regularly, along with additional data.
When a smartphone or other wireless device is in range of the beacon, it will receive and analyse the signal from the beacon in a user-centric method or communicate this information to a server in a server-centric approach. The detection of a beacon and a device can enable proximity-based location services that determine whether a beacon and a device are within range of each other.
Communication between three or more beacons and a wireless device can be used to position multiple beacons deployed across an indoor space. The detected location of the device can trigger a specific action depending on the application, which might be valuable in asset-tracking circumstances.
Depending on the system design, hardware options, and the number of deployed sensors or beacons, BLE indoor positioning and real-time location systems can achieve varying levels of precision.
Indoor positioning utilising BLE sensors or beacons can provide location accuracy of fewer than 5 metres (with optimal conditions and deployment). With the release of Bluetooth 5.1 and its new direction-finding functionalities, BLE will be able to determine location with sub-meter accuracy.
The range of BLE placement might vary based on factors such as whether BLE beacons or BLE-enabled sensors are used, as well as the nature of the inside location. In general, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) has a reduced range.
Bluetooth Positioning top Use Cases
One of the most important RF protocols for physical asset tracking is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Bluetooth's low-power, versatile, and simple-to-implement technology can be used by organisations in a variety of industries to track the real-time location and status of critical assets and equipment.
Increase productivity and resource allocation by visualising resources, assets, and equipment across big corporate campuses and buildings.
Include asset tracking tools to assist in swiftly locating and tracking the location of critical equipment such as ventilators and wheelchairs.
Create visibility into the location and movement of equipment, machinery, and resources with smart manufacturing.
Asset tracking should be used in warehouse management to find equipment, tools, and inventories throughout vast facilities.
Employee and Personnel Tracking
Organizations can use BLE's customizable beacons, personnel tags, and sensors to create insight into the whereabouts of employees and personnel, which can then be used to power a variety of location-aware apps.
Detection of Wireless Devices
Security-conscious establishments, such as sensitive government and corporate buildings, can deploy sensors to identify BLE and other RF transmitting devices across their indoor space.
Increase operational efficiencies and productivity by utilising low-cost tags such as staff badges, tracking stickers, and more to create insight into space utilisation and employee location inside your area.
Make indoor workplaces safer by swiftly locating and notifying employees in the case of an emergency or evacuation.
Support protocols and legal requirements that help prevent and limit the spread of sickness throughout their space by providing solutions that enable device-based contact tracing, physical distancing compliance awareness, effective sanitation guidance, and more.
Organizations can design smart buildings that use location to support multiple interactions, communications, and other features by incorporating BLE indoor positioning.
Create compelling customer experiences by detecting locations near users and assets and using this data to directly engage visitors with hyperlocal content like coupons, marketing campaigns, nearby areas of interest, and more.
Geofencing creates virtual geographical boundaries around different parts of interior places that cause a specific action to be taken when people enter, exit, or reside within designated zones.
Allow users to opt-in to share their current location or locate others, such as family members, acquaintances, or colleagues, inside enormous buildings.
Let’s Wrap up
Bluetooth will remain a leading RF technology utilised by wireless devices, as well as for short-range communication and indoor positioning. Further integration into indoor spaces and infrastructures is likely to continue, including the proliferation of Access Points with built-in BLE beacon and sensing technology, more enabled IoT devices, consumer wearables, asset tracking tags, personnel badges, and consumer Bluetooth trackers.
However, this technology is rapidly changing with each passing day and throughout time, making it conceivable in the future to monitor and control smaller and less expensive assets.
DXSolution offers IoT asset management solutions to a wide range of customers. Our expertise assists firms in obtaining real-time asset tracking and visibility, developing a robust maintenance strategy, and enabling asset monitoring services to optimise asset uptime and ROI.
If you want to learn more about how you can use IoT technology in asset management, contact our specialists for a comprehensive consultation session. You can follow our LinkedIn page and our hashtag - #dxsolutionadvisor, on LinkedIn.our specialists for a complete consultation session.