Best known for its innovation in audio streaming and wearable devices, Bluetooth® technology is also the standard for creating proximity solutions used across a wide range of location services applications — including point of interest information, item finding, real-time locating systems (RTLS) for asset tracking, and indoor positioning systems (IPS) for wayfinding. Though the onset of COVID-19 lockdowns led to a reduction in Bluetooth Location Services deployments (the 2021 Bluetooth Market Update reports a 25 percent decrease in implementations compared to previous forecasts), thanks to continued interest in asset tracking and indoor positioning use cases, analysts expect Bluetooth Location Services growth to rebound by the end of 2021 and achieve a 32 percent CAGR through 2025.

Bluetooth Technology as a Positioning Radio

Powering rapid growth in RTLS solution shipments, Bluetooth technology helps track assets and people, whether locating tools and personnel in a warehouse or medical devices and patients in a hospital. Bluetooth IPSs have also quickly become the standard for indoor navigation solutions, helping visitors find their way through complex facilities. 79 percent of all Bluetooth® Location Services implementations include indoor navigation. 

Tags are also an important part of location services solutions, enabling commercial and industrial applications to track materials, personnel, and fleets of vehicles. The 2021 Bluetooth Market Update states that Bluetooth tracking tags account for the vast majority of all annual location services device shipments with nearly 40 percent of Bluetooth tags in 2021 supporting manufacturing and logistics. As more companies around the world turn to Bluetooth technology to enable tags and other asset tracking solutions, analysts predict Bluetooth Asset Tracking will soon be the leading use case for location services

Heightened awareness of Bluetooth® Location Services and the resumption of solution implementations will continue to support an increase in market expansion. Thanks to new features that support higher accuracy, such as Bluetooth Direction Finding, significant growth in Bluetooth IPS solutions is expected over the next five years.

“The new development in Bluetooth® location methodologies allows companies to achieve high accuracy and reliability at a price point that other technologies cannot offer.” 
– Fabio Belloni, Quuppa

The Future Is Phone as a Key

After first becoming widely accepted as a digital wallet for mobile payments, the smartphone continues to expand its role in everyday life. Having achieved 100 percent penetration in smartphones, it is no surprise that Bluetooth® technology is turning the smartphone into a convenient and secure digital key, unlocking doors and spaces as you approach your car, home, office building, and more.

With Bluetooth technology, digital keys enable passive entry and start for vehicles,” said Ram Vedantham, business line manager for 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity at Texas Instruments. “In addition, this technology enables access control in homes, buildings, and warehouses, which will grant the ability to manage privileges using secure digital keys for personnel needing access to a specified space.”

“Though it is implementation dependent, Bluetooth® technology provides the security features and options that enable secure solutions, including the digital key.” 
– Ram Vedantham, Texas Instruments

According to Youngji Kim, Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) market research program manager, geofencing is another prime example of using Bluetooth® technology to support digital key and access control solutions. “Industrial complexes can use the phone as a way of identifying individuals to restrict access to hazardous areas,” said Kim.

Industrial facilities, such as warehouses, factory floors, and chemical plants, that need to prohibit employees without proper training from accessing hazardous areas can harvest tremendous benefits from access control solutions. With the added value of location-based services, such as personnel tracking, alerts can be sent to personnel and facility managers should an employee or visitor wander close to or enter a hazardous area, enhancing safety for all. And, should an emergency happen, first responders can locate and get to individuals quicker if they know their exact position and status in a facility.

Download the 2021 Bluetooth Market Update to see more new Bluetooth technology trends and forecasts.

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