BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is a kind of wireless communication optimised for short-range communication. In the same way that Wi-Fi allows devices to interact with one another, BLE does the same. BLE, on the other hand, is designed for circumstances where battery life is more important than fast data transmission rates. Because the quantity of data transferred to a visitor's smartphone is modest, Bluetooth LE compatible beacons do the task fast and without exhausting the battery.
BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology is based on the Bluetooth 4.0 standard, operates at 2,4GHz, and is designed to adapt to marketing logic on smartphones and tablets, almost in opposition to NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, with the exception that BLE technology has significantly longer reading distances, up to 100 metres.
The data flow over Bluetooth Low Energy is mainly one-way communication. Consider BLE beacons attempting to interact with a nearby smartphone: a Bluetooth beacon device transmits data packets at regular intervals. Apps/pre-installed services on neighbouring devices detect these data packets. This Bluetooth connection can be used to send a message or promote an app. The complete Bluetooth BLE communication structure consists of 40 frequency channels separated by 2MHz to save energy and deliver faster data transfer speeds. Three of these channels are principal advertisement channels, with the remaining 37 being secondary data channels. Bluetooth communication begins with the three principal advertising channels before shifting to the subsidiary channels.
Low-energy Bluetooth is supported by the majority of smartphones and tablets released after 2012. (BLE). Due to the huge variety of Android phones, certain models may support BLE while others may support an earlier version of Bluetooth. The table below lists which iOS devices support Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
Advantages of BLE:
Even when compared to other low-power technologies, the power consumption is lower. By keeping the radio off as often as possible and delivering small quantities of data at low transfer rates, BLE achieves optimal and low power consumption.
The official specification documents are available at no cost. To obtain the specification for most other wireless protocols and technologies, you'd have to be a member of the official organisation or consortium for that technology.
Even when compared to other similar technologies, the cost of modules and chipsets is lower.
Most notably, it can be found in the majority of cell phones on the market.
Limitations of BLE:
The physical radio layer (PHY) data rate, which is the rate at which the radio sends data, limits the data throughput of BLE.
Because Bluetooth Low Energy was built for short-range applications, its operating range is limited. It is highly influenced by impediments
To send data from a BLE-only device to the Internet, another BLE device with an IP connection is required to receive the data and then relay it to another IP device (or to the Internet).
The architecture of Bluetooth Low-Energy consists of various components as follows:
The physical layer (PHY) is the physical radio that is utilised for communication and data modulation and demodulation. It uses the ISM band to communicate (2.4 GHz spectrum).
The Link Layer interacts with the Physical Layer (Radio) and offers an abstraction and a method for higher levels to communicate with the radio (through an intermediary layer called the HCI layer, which we'll explore momentarily). It's in charge of keeping track of the radio's status as well as the Bluetooth Low Energy specification's timing requirements.
Direct Test Mode is used to test the radio's functionality at the physical level (such as transmission power, receiver sensitivity, etc.).
The Bluetooth specification defines the Host Controller Interface (HCI) layer as a common protocol that allows the Host layer to connect with the Controller layer. These layers might reside on distinct chips, or they could exist on the same chip.
A protocol multiplexing layer is the Logical Link Control and Adaptation Protocol (L2CAP). It encapsulates numerous protocols from the higher layers in typical BLE packets that are sent down to the lower layers underneath it.
How it works:
BLE beacons are beacons that communicate using Bluetooth Low Energy, as the name implies. Beacon devices are tiny radio transmitters that are deliberately placed across a site to broadcast low-energy Bluetooth signals over a specific range. This range is determined by the hardware's capabilities. A beacon device can emit BLE signals for up to 80 metres on average. The beacon's BLE signal can be used to activate a specific action related to the location. Approximately 10 times every second, beacons give out an ID number over BLE channels. This ID number is picked up by a Bluetooth-enabled device close to the beacon. When an app or pre-installed service like Google Nearby identifies the ID number, it relates it to an action, such as downloading an app or piece of content stored on the cloud and showing it on the smartphone.
Applications of BLE:
1. BLE for indoor location tracking:
One of the main advantages of BLE is that it can be utilised for precise locations inside when GPS cannot be used. Businesses may employ BLE-enabled devices as beacons, broadcasting data to all nearby devices rather than having one-to-one communication. The position of the beacon may then be determined by devices capable of processing that data, such as phones, or simply catching and relaying it further, such as access points. This is why BLE is widely utilised in interior navigation systems, such as those used in shopping malls to offer customers GPS-like indoor mapping to assist them to find their favourite store. Retail software for indoor positioning, on the other hand, offers a wider range of uses.
2. BLE for safety:
Employees can benefit from BLE tags in a variety of ways. Other than contact tracing, panic buttons and fall detection systems are common examples. Operations managers, facility managers, and anybody else who works in a position that involves a high level of abrupt risk can utilise panic buttons. This personnel may quietly call for help if they feel threatened, for as by a suspicious customer, by wearing a BLE tag. This will quickly alert security and, owing to GPS monitoring, will inform them of the position of the individual at risk. BLE tags with movement sensors can be used on construction sites or in nursing homes to detect falls. When the sensor detects a sudden fall, the BLE tag will send an alarm to the BLE tag with information about who is in danger and where they are so that they may be helped as soon as possible.
3. BLE for asset tracking:
BLE tags may be used to track a variety of objects, not simply humans. They may also be used to track assets in real-time by simply attaching the tag to the things you wish to track. You may either keep an eye on their movements or use geofencing to ensure they remain put. This may be used in a variety of verticals and assets across a wide range of industries. The lifespan and minimal data transmission that BLE offers are becoming critical differentiators in applications like these.
Syook uses BLE technology to track assets and employee activities in indoor and outdoor facilities. Tags with BLE chips are provided which emits signals and are captured by the IoT gateways present at the facility.
One of the most extensively used low-power communication technologies is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). This is due in large part to the emergence of the Internet of Things, which resulted in a slew of smart personal gadgets in need of a common and efficient communication system. This standard has a wide range of commercial and corporate uses, which is why it is so popular. Bluetooth Low Energy is continually being developed and improved to match the most current market demands, so it's worth keeping an eye on.