How can Bluetooth technology help solve location and positioning challenges?
Traditional positioning technology, such as GPS, does not work well in an indoor environment. Bluetooth® technology helps to overcome this challenge. The signal strength (converted to an RSSI value) of a Bluetooth tag or other Bluetooth enabled device received by the Bluetooth gateway is inversely related to the distance. That is, as distance increases, the Bluetooth signal strength or RSSI value gradually decreases.
As a result, one can determine if a Bluetooth end device is in the coverage area of a Bluetooth gateway and the approximate distance between the Bluetooth device and the gateway. This is the simplest form of Bluetooth location services: point of presence.
If there are three or more Bluetooth gateways receiving broadcast signals from the same Bluetooth end device at the same time, the coordinates of the device can be calculated more accurately through a trilateration algorithm. The accuracy is generally around three to five meters. This is the second form of Bluetooth location services.
These location services solutions are suitable for various applications, such as personnel and asset tracking in schools, hospitals, and factories. Cassia’s Bluetooth gateways and IoT Access Controller (AC) currently support all the above location services applications.
We are also currently working on new products and solutions designed to significantly improve accuracy (e.g., with sub-one-meter accuracy) using Bluetooth angle of arrival (AoA)/ angle of departure AoD positioning technology.
Why have you chosen to use Bluetooth technology, and what value does it offer?
We have chosen to focus on Bluetooth® technology because we see the value Bluetooth offers for the IoT and location services applications.
Compared with other wireless technologies, the cost of a Bluetooth® chip and module is significantly lower.
The first reason is the low power consumption and long battery life. Tags and beacons, for example, are usually powered by batteries. The minimal power consumption of Bluetooth technology can significantly extend the battery life of these devices compared to other wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, where battery life will only last a few days or weeks at most. The advantage for the end user is a significant reduction in maintenance and equipment costs.
The second reason is the low cost. Compared with other wireless technologies, the cost of a Bluetooth chip and module is significantly lower. This plays a critical role in the IoT, especially for enterprises looking to reduce costs and improve their bottom line.
Third, Bluetooth technology is one of the most common connectivity standards and is universally accepted. For instance, the 2.4 GHz band is available worldwide, which makes it a standard for low-power wireless connectivity. Because of the ubiquitous nature of Bluetooth technology, end users are less concerned with compatibility issues and/or having to customize different end devices for different countries.
Last, the market for Bluetooth technology is growing rapidly. To date, there are tens of billions of existing Bluetooth devices, such as Bluetooth tags, beacons, sensors, etc., which greatly lower the entry barriers for IoT customers.
What do you see for the future of Bluetooth technology as it relates to location services?
It’s exciting to see how Bluetooth® technology is meeting the needs of location services and how it is becoming the wireless technology of choice.
At Cassia, we’ve been able to extend the range of Bluetooth technology by up to 1 km using Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Coded PHY without requiring any changes to the Bluetooth protocol or end device. As a result, fewer gateways are needed to cover large areas like a factory, hospital, or school, allowing for reduced deployment and equipment costs. For our partners, this is a huge advantage.
We see the growing number of Bluetooth low-power devices being used in various industries for personnel and asset tracking applications, and we’re excited to be contributing to this growth. Cassia is committed to providing our current customers and future partners with the most advanced enterprise Bluetooth IoT solutions and products to meet their needs.