More and more industries are starting to see the benefits of Bluetooth (BLE) devices. Studies predict a steady 8.5% growth by 2024 in the tracking and beacon device market. Also, the Bluetooth Special Interest (SIG) Group, the organisation that oversees the development of Bluetooth standards and the licensing of Bluetooth technologies, predicts that 400 million devices with Bluetooth-integrated location services will be in use per year by 2022.
Integrating Bluetooth into IoT devices offers tremendous potential for building large-scale networks, delivering rich connectivity with a high level of security. Besides mobile phones, speakers and PC accessories, Bluetooth is increasingly finding its place in home appliances, wearables and industrial electronics and devices.
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth enables the wireless exchange of data between two or more devices over short distances. This alternative to, for example, a cable or infrared connection, connects devices via a radio signal. The bandwidth in which the radio waves operate (2.4 to 2.485 GHz) is suitable for the transfer of data and is free to use almost anywhere in the world.
With Bluetooth you create a small network. It usually consists of two devices, but connecting several devices at once is also possible nowadays. One device acts as a transmitter and the others are the receivers.
Thanks to Bluetoooth, you no longer need cables to exchange sound, data or other signals and that saves a lot of hassle.
Why use Bluetooth?
As mentioned above, the most obvious advantage of Bluetooth is that it is wireless. You no longer have to deal with cables that get in the way. In addition Bluetooth is also very easy to use. The system is automatic, so you don't have to do much to connect devices, just turn it on.
Bluetooth is a universal connection, so you can connect all kinds of brands. If a device does not have Bluetooth, it can easily be made compatible with small transmitters with a USB connection to ensure that your device can connect to other Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth allows you to send data to several devices at the same time. This makes it very effective in use.
Bluetooth sends relatively weak signals, so there is little chance of it interrupting other signals, while at the same time it ensures a strong connection. Bluetooth consumes relatively little energy and because it only works at short distances, it is difficult to intercept the signal and steal data. Exchanging information via Bluetooth is therefore very safe.
Bluetooth & IoT devices
The ability to establish large-scale, fast and secure networks with a high level of security also makes Bluetooth incredibly interesting for integration with IoT devices. IoT stands for Internet of Things. It boils down to the ability of electronics embedded in physical devices, vehicles, buildings, cities or other items to collect data from their environment. It is therefore no surprise that more and more industries will start taking advantage of these benefits. Bluetooth's low power consumption also makes it a very powerful platform for IoT devices.
Especially the mesh networking technology can make operators of IoT applications switch to Bluetooth even faster. It allows you to connect IoT Bluetooth devices across an entire building or a large area. This scalability can make workplaces and factories a lot smarter.
The now improved Bluetooth version 5 boosts data transfer rates to 2Mbps, which is double the previous version. At 2Mbps, Bluetooth can now transfer huge amounts of data. Devices are able to transmit data packets of up to 255 bytes with Bluetooth.
IoT devices will increasingly become part of our living and working environment. So it should come as no surprise that Bluetooth technology is the way to safely connect all these devices and applications.
Due to the optimization of Bluetooth technologies, smart buildings are now considered a huge market for BLE and you can already see its use in retail, hospitals, airports and in the hotel industry.
At present, BLE technology in intelligent buildings is mainly used in automation and control, condition monitoring and indoor location services. Think, for example, of intelligent condition monitoring through the use of IoT sensors. These collect data on energy consumption, occupancy and other variables. The available data can then support decision making that can save building owners money and time.
Bluetooth can also be used to predict failures and monitor equipment to minimize tolerance errors in industrial applications. Using Bluetooth's point-to-point connections, employees with smartphones can ask questions or receive reports from equipment containing Bluetooth tags.
Applying Bluetooth to self-service devices in smart buildings
Smart buildings give users more control over their experience and support their decision-making process, but with the right technology and smart platforms, the operators themselves will also experience the benefits.
IOT means connectivity. By embracing connectivity, operators can offer personalized product ranges to users by collecting important data, provide secure (contactless) access to machines such as printers or trigger user interaction at the most optimal times. Bluetooth technology can also be used to keep the software of these devices up-to-date and to configure the software. All the operator needs is a mobile phone to send or collect that data.
At inepro we also apply Bluetooth technology, for example for contactless updating of card readers or enabling access for users via BLE. Interested in our RFID readers? Read more here.