Technology

Bluetooth Low Energy: what is it and why is it interesting?

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is extensively employed as a device positioning technology. Through a strong and reliable BLE signal, one device is thus able to find, locate and detect the direction of another device. This technology, together with ThinkIN software, helps you to have substantial control over what is happening in the whole facility. 

Discover why you should be interested in integrating this technology into your business.

In summary
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is reliable, energy-efficient, ubiquitous on personal and IoT devices.
  • BLE signal is strong and precise
  • RTLS using BLE along with ThinkIN software provides real-time location data to reach high-levels of efficiency and performance of business processes
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First introduced in 2010, Bluetooth Low Energy is gaining more and more importance, transforming the future of communication and connectivity. Nowadays, it is used across numerous industrial sectors to ensure efficiency and security. In the following article you will learn what exactly Bluetooth Low Energy is, how it works as well as its features and, most importantly, why you should really be interested in integrating this technology into your business.

What is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)?

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a geofencing technology and it is basically a smart version of Bluetooth Technology created to operate at extremely low power levels. Firstly known for supporting communication among device networks, it is now frequently employed as a device positioning technology, as the need for highly accurate location-based services is experiencing a significant increase in various industries. Through the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology one device can thus find, locate and detect the direction of another device.

Features

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is characterised by some features that make it a unique technology to be implemented in your facility. 

 

1. Low consumption rate

BLE was intentionally designed to minimise power consumption. Indeed, it provides a wireless data transmission range similar to the classic bluetooth, while making use of substantially less power. As a result, devices’ batteries have a long-term battery-life, lasting up to 2-4 years.

2. Easy to Integrate 

BLE is a very versatile technology, able to adapt and integrate to many different kinds of devices. With the traditional Bluetooth, “master” devices request “slave” devices to communicate and only at that point a “slave” device can transmit data. On the contrary, BLE enables “slave” devices to communicate with a “master” device, without being asked. In this way, “slave” devices can send signals to inform “master” devices when it is needed, e.g. when an event happens.

3. Reliability 

BLE technology is supported by a strong signal even in very noisy working environments, such as industrial or medical facilities. This makes it a valuable and reliable technology able to ensure correct data transmission. 

BLE Devices

In order to operate, BLE needs different types of devices which mainly identify themselves as  TAGs, Beacons and Gateways. These devices communicate with each other to make assets and people localisable and therefore, use this information to increase efficiency as well as safety, optimising processes within a wide range of facilities. 

 

TAGs

TAGs are small devices used to locate assets or people within an indoor space and they are placed on the asset or person to be tracked. Therefore, they can be of various shapes depending on the asset, such as rectangular, round or in the form of a bracelet if it needs to be worn by someone. 

 

Beacons

Beacons are devices anchored on the walls or ceilings within the facility. They are placed following a fixed order (e.g. every 2-5 meters) based on the size of the facility. The more Beacons are placed within the space, the more precise the location of resources will be displayed. 

 

Gateway

Gateway are devices which directly communicate with the software transmitting real-time data which are then displayed along with reports and statistics.

How does Bluetooth Low Energy work?

So far, you learnt what Bluetooth Low Energy is and what are the involved devices. Now, let’s see how exactly Bluetooth Low Energy works. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) works through an infrastructure composed of the previously mentioned devices: TAGs, Beacons and Gateways. These devices communicate with each other to ensure that valuable real-time data is transmitted to the software. They work together in the following way:

 

TAGs, which are placed on the resources to be tracked, move within the indoor space. Beacons, which are regularly placed in the whole space detect the TAGs’ signal moving within the facility and it is thus able to locate the tracked resources. After data is collected, it is transmitted to the Gateway which, in turn, processes it and communicates it to the software, where it can be shown in the form of graphics and analytics. 

 

In this way, you can not only track assets and people, but you can have access to a real digital twin of the facility, thus enabling a number of activities and optimisation processes which we will cover in the next paragraph.

Why should you be interested in BLE and the right location intelligence software?

Enough with all this tech stuff! Let’s get to the point on why you need BLE technology.

 

The Real-time location systems using Bluetooth Low Energy can be implemented in various sectors, such as industrial and healthcare facilities as well as retail venues. BLE provides an outstanding signal precision that can give a valuable contribution to your business, whether your sector is Retail, Industry or Healthcare. Indeed, thanks to the BLE technology, along with the right location intelligence software, you will be able to have relevant real-time data on what is happening in your facility. With the combination of BLE and the ThinkIN location intelligence software, many activities can thus be performed in order to track and improve performance to reach business goals. Let’s see some use cases:

 

Industry: 

  • Asset tracking 
  • Collision avoidance
  • Process monitoring
  • Access control
  • Tooling management 
  • Warehouse management 

 

Healthcare: 

  • Asset tracking of medical equipment
  • Automatic management of inventory 
  • Planning of maintenance activities
  • Workflow digitisation and optimisation 
  • Monitoring patient safety 

Retail: 

  • In-store customer  journey mapping 
  • Integration of POS data with the in-store customer journey
  • Real-time queue monitoring 
  • In-store marketing services
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