Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE, colloquially BLE) is a wireless personal area network technology designed and marketed by the Bluetooth SIG (Bluetooth Special Interest Group) aimed at novel applications in the healthcare, fitness, beacons, security, and home entertainment industries.
Bluetooth Low Energy is intended to provide considerably reduced power consumption and cost while maintaining a similar communication range. Mobile operating systems including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry, as well as macOS, Linux, Windows 8, and Windows 10, natively support Bluetooth Low Energy.
BLE & IoT Applications
Bluetooth Low Energy uses the same 2.4 GHz radio frequencies as classic Bluetooth, which allows dual-mode devices to share a single radio antenna, but uses a simpler modulation system. The difference between Bluetooth and BLE is that BLE remains in sleep mode unless a connection initiates. The actual connection times only last a few milliseconds, unlike Bluetooth, which connects for a few seconds or a few hours at a time. These short connections are necessary because data rates are significantly higher.
Ongoing improvements with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) combined with low-cost chips and a large and growing developer community have made BLE a leading Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Billions of BLE-enabled smartphones have created a massively scaled ecosystem for IoT developers. BLE is driving markets such as health and fitness wearable sensors where low power and 1 MB/s throughput are required. The expanded network range, throughput, and capacity with Bluetooth 5 as well as the completion of the Bluetooth mesh specification have also made BLE a disruptor for fixed sensor networks.
- Fitness trackers
Since Bluetooth technologies (both classic and BLE) are commonly available in smartphones, tablets, & laptops. Fitness trackers are one of the primary use cases for BLE. A smart band measures your steps or monitors your heartbeat continuously, using up a lot of battery life. If it were constantly relaying that information to your phone, too, it would drain the battery life a lot faster. This is why manufacturers look for ways to save energy, and BLE is a perfect solution.
- Asset tracking
A simple, single-functioning BLE tag can be used for asset tracking. By attaching to objects the tag collects the information on their indoor position, path navigated, etc. Geofencing can be implemented to restrict the movement of the tagged assets outside the permitted zones. This has applications for various verticals like logistics (cargo monitoring), medicine (to monitor essential supplies) and IT (to track equipment to determine how, where, and when it’s being used). In such applications, the longevity of the battery and the small data transfer that BLE allows are becoming crucial differentiators.
BLE technology can be used for a wide variety of use cases like fitness trackers, asset tracking, indoor location tracking, etc. WeMakeIoT has developed many end-to-end projects like the smart desk, smart shower toilet, smart garden, etc that have used BLE for data transfer.
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