According to the ABI report Installed Base of IoT Devices by Connectivity Technology, published in 2020, Bluetooth® technology is used in 38% of all Internet of Things (IoT) devices while Wi-Fi is in 32% and cellular communications technology is used in 19%. It’s fair to say that Bluetooth technology is a key enabler of the IoT.
But how exactly can Bluetooth devices connect to the internet and be part of an IoT solution? The answer involves a key component of any Bluetooth IoT solution architecture known as a Bluetooth Internet Gateway (BIG).
A BIG supports Bluetooth technology and one or more TCP/IP-based protocols. A BIG can translate requests received over Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) from the internet into corresponding Bluetooth interactions and vice versa. A BIG is usually classified as middleware because it sits in between two other tiers of a multi-tiered architecture, providing services to the components on either side of it.
Solution Architects, Developers, and Operations Personnel
Gateways can be complicated entities. They handle multiple communications protocols, are able to translate between otherwise incompatible technologies, and consist of many component parts – both hardware and software. There are no standards governing BIGs and project teams requiring one have a choice of either buying a ready-made commercial product or creating a gateway based on custom requirements.
Solution architects need to understand the subject of Bluetooth Internet Gateways, either to inform commercial product evaluation or the architecture of bespoke solutions.
Software developers need to understand BIGs to be able to develop components of custom gateways, to be able to develop applications which use a BIG, or both.
And in many cases, operations personnel need to understand how a BIG is secured and how it can be scaled.
There’s something for everyone in this subject.
The Bluetooth® Internet Gateway Study Guide
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is committed to providing educational resources for people in technical product and solution development roles such as software engineers and architects. We have a series of resources, known as study guides, which are designed for self-paced study and typically include one or more hands-on projects to help consolidate theoretical knowledge and to reveal and explore practical issues and techniques.
We’ve recently added a new resource to that list: the Bluetooth Internet Gateway Study Guide. This new study guide:
- Illustrates the options for accommodating different types of Bluetooth® Low Energy (LE) devices in a BIG solution.
- Includes a hands-on project to design and build a working prototype BIG, explaining and exploring the following topics throughout:
- Logical and physical architectures
- Component selection, development, and integration
- Gateway adapter code development and testing
- Includes a working prototype gateway web application which acts as a general-purpose Bluetooth LE device explorer and acts as an example for review and self-study
- Includes an incomplete gateway web application for controlling a BBC micro:bit via the gateway, which you will finish by writing the missing gateway interaction code
- Explores and explains the issues and options for creating a scalable Bluetooth Internet Gateway solution capable of handling a large number of concurrent Bluetooth connections