A global provider of positioning and wireless communication technologies for the automotive, industrial, and consumer markets, u-blox creates solutions that let people, vehicles, and machines determine their precise position and communicate over wireless networks.

“Bluetooth® is a robust, long-range technology well suited for non-consumer applications and use cases.” 
Pelle Svensson, u-blox

Business Development Manager of Industrial and Medical Markets in u-blox’s Short-Range Product Center Pelle Svensson recently spoke with me about how u-blox is using Bluetooth® technology to empower customers to develop innovative solutions for industrial and commercial environments.

Q & A with Pelle Svensson

Which markets does u-blox support, and what solutions do you provide?

We support a range of markets with our GNSS receivers and our 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity solutions. We started by selling GNSS receivers to automotive OEMs and Tier 1s to enable satellite-based navigation solutions and wireless communication solutions for in-vehicle entertainment systems. Our product portfolio, which already enables vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connectivity, will eventually contribute to enabling autonomous driving.

As they lie right on the intersection of positioning and wireless communication, tracking solutions have been an obvious market for our products, including people, pet, vehicle, or asset tracking. In the medical sector, our solutions include connected medical devices for blood glucose monitoring, as well as real-time patient monitoring for use in the clinic.

Our industrial customers use our solutions to connect sensors to controllers and the cloud, to remotely control machines, and to enable human-machine interfaces. Other common industrial use cases include asset tracking and connecting power tools in assembly lines, as well as on construction sites where they facilitate tool configuration, tracking, and diagnostics.

Smart buildings leverage our wireless connectivity to enable smart lighting, HVAC, and access control, and security and surveillance systems. And, finally, smart cities integrate our technologies to set up city-wide mesh networks for device monitoring (e.g., for electric cabinets), smart-parking solutions, EV (electric vehicle) charging stations, and smart-utility metering.

Why use Bluetooth technology?

Back in 1998, ABB Corporate Research evaluated Bluetooth in harsh industrial environments, including concrete, steel, and EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) noise. The results were excellent.

This led some of my colleagues at ABB to found connectBlue, which focused on providing Bluetooth connectivity for industrial automation applications and use cases by delivering end products and pre-certified modules. I joined connectBlue from the Ericsson Bluetooth Division shortly thereafter. connectBlue was acquired by u-blox in 2014.

For many of our customers, long-range – or, rather, good-link budget – is critical to use cases where distances are important or where signals are obstructed by obstacles. Waste-water plants are examples of the former, while remote controls for truck cranes, where the person holding the remote control and the receiver are often on opposite sides of the truck, are an example of the latter.

As early as 2005, connectBlue developed modules achieving ranges of more than 1.5 km with Bluetooth Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate (BR/EDR). With the latest version of Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), we are once again able to provide long-range features for low-power devices – often a prerequisite for Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications.

Back in the early days, the common chorus on Bluetooth® among industry players was: “It’s a few-meter-range technology. There’s no way we can use it in industrial applications.” We constantly had to educate the market about the long-range capabilities of Bluetooth. And, while customer awareness has improved tremendously, we still occasionally must do so.

FEATURED RESOURCE

The Bluetooth Range Estimator 

Calculate the expected range between two Bluetooth devices.

TRY IT NOW

What location services or smart building spaces are you currently in?

Two examples come to mind. One of our Swedish customers delivers products and services for construction site management. They recently launched a product that combines GNSS and Bluetooth® to keep track of equipment on individual construction sites as well as within an entire city. And then there is a smart city project we are currently involved in with city of Lund in Sweden, ABB, Schneider Electric, and other partners. There, the application is to monitor power distribution cabinets throughout the city using Bluetooth mesh. The network, once in place, can be used as a communication backbone for a whole host of additional applications, such as environmental data sensing.

What would you tell technical decision makers, product managers, and the like who may be considering wireless protocols for commercial and industrial projects that have longer range requirements?

We spent almost 20 years convincing the market that Bluetooth® is a robust, long-range technology well suited for non-consumer applications and use cases. For years, we delivered Bluetooth solutions with ranges over one kilometer, and many of our customers in non-consumer markets make use of the range and link budget Bluetooth provides.

Bluetooth is good for tough applications, and the solutions we developed using the technology prove it. In this article, Seven reasons why Bluetooth is perfect for the Industrial IoT, we’ve distilled down the arguments we give our potential customers in favor of using Bluetooth in the Industrial IoT.

 

FEATURED PROGRAM -> JOIN THE MEMBER PROMOTION PROGRAM

Bluetooth Member Promotion Program

Are you a Bluetooth member designing innovative wireless solutions? You may be eligible to participate in the Bluetooth Member Promotion Program.

Learn More

How Bluetooth Technology Enables Reliable, Long- Range Solutions

The success of Bluetooth® technology in the wireless communication industry is illustrated by its…

Advanced Real-Time Location Services Using Bluetooth® Low Energy Technology

This session will look at how Quuppa uses advanced positioning algorithms enabling real-time tracking with Bluetooth® Low…

New Opportunities to Improve Smart Building Efficiencies with Safe Return Solutions

As COVID-19 continues to have a major impact around the world, governments and commercial…

How Bluetooth® Technology is Enabling Safe Return Strategies in a COVID-19 Era

This report shares insight into how Bluetooth® technology is being leveraged by organizations of all sizes to…

5 Must-Read Bluetooth Member Case Studies

Every year, the Bluetooth® community makes major strides that drive wireless innovation, overcome challenges,…

Why The Return Of Spectator Sport Lies With Technology

The UK sports industry is worth a whopping £23.8 billion, an indication of the…

Social Distancing by the Thousands: How our BT710 Makes it Easy

As more governments, schools, workplaces, and others explore options for resuming public life in…

4 Bluetooth Solutions Global Facilities Use to Support Safe Return Initiatives

The COVID-19 pandemic is transforming the way we work, gather, and live, and the…

Best Recorded Bluetooth Presentations From 2020

The Bluetooth® community makes major strides each year that drive wireless innovation, overcome challenges,…

Wearable device sales have jumped more than 30% this year, exec says

Although a majority of consumers plan to spend less this year due to the…

Smart Buildings Facing The New Normal

With workplaces and life somewhat returning to normal, we are now faced with a…

From vehicles to vaccines (and BLE to NB-IoT): five key asset tracking use cases

FedEx has introduced a new Bluetooth based asset tracking system in time for anticipated…

How to Leverage the Rapid Transformation of Sensors into Edge Computing Devices

Bluetooth® sensors are rapidly evolving into intelligent multifaceted edge computing devices enabling real-time data…

How Wireless Technology Is Enabling the Adoption of Commercial Connected Lighting

This report on commercial connected lighting systems developed by Guidehouse Insights analysts shares perspectives…

Advanced Bluetooth® Technology – Under the APIs

Bluetooth technology has changed enormously since its initial release about twenty years ago. Communication…

Reducing the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission

Learn how Philips partnered with Cassia Networks to help fight the spread of COVID-19…

Extending an ENS to Support Wearable Devices

See how an ENS can better address population groups critical to managing a pandemic…

POM Tracer Ensures Workplace Safety with Contact Tracing Solutions from Laird Connectivity

POM Tracer was looking to create an easy-to-implement product that would allow businesses and…

“Back to Work” Solutions - Explained

In this report, we share a detailed technical analysis of technologies available to enable…

Advantages of Wireless Human-Machine Interface (HMI) for Industrial Automation

In comparison to today’s consumer products that offer enhanced connectivity and a more immersive…

Dyer Engineering Installs Location Tracking to Manage Workflows at Sites

Dyer Engineering is an innovative group of fabrication and machining businesses with wide-ranging capabilities…

2020 Bluetooth Market Update

Supported by updated forecasts from ABI Research and insights from several other analyst firms, the Bluetooth Market Update highlights the latest Bluetooth trends and forecasts.

Bluetooth Location Services

See 8 use cases for enhancing building efficiencies and creating a better visitor experience, discover new data that supports the latest trends and forecasts, and find out what’s driving the rapid adoption of location services solutions.

Lighting as a Platform

See how connected lighting systems are being used as a platform to enable advanced building services like wayfinding, asset tracking, and space utilization to improve the ROI of smart building investments.

An Introduction to Bluetooth Beacons

Learn how to build your own Bluetooth beacon or integrate beacon technology into your existing products and apps.