Progress in the Development of Bluetooth
Bluetooth is already one of the most widely used wireless protocols for enabling IoT.
With the success of Bluetooth in the smart home, the standard is now making its way into the enterprise. Its low cost, ease of use and familiar installation are just some of the reasons Bluetooth is so appealing for use in the workplace.
Bluetooth can be used to solve problems currently prevalent in several industries. One application of Bluetooth is for asset-tracking infrastructure to improve the life span of tags, giving them the ability to last for years in between battery changes. This would rely on Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE beacons that can be attached to mobile objects as well as on BLE receivers installed at various access points. Bluetooth can be used to locate missing crash carts and IV stands, or even to send and receive temperature data from refrigerators storing medicines. There are also use cases for wearables in healthcare, security and facilities management.
Traditionally, Bluetooth devices are managed by utilizing a “star topology”, a type of RF topology. When a group of devices are organized in this manner, it forms a piconet that includes a master and as many as seven active slaves. In this formation, the group of devices share a radio channel and are synchronized by the master to a common frequency-hopping pattern. Bluetooth is not commonly used for the enterprise because it is very difficult to implement over a large area and the connections are anchored on smartphones. This issue is being solved by utilizing an enterprise networking BLE gateway or hub. With the use of a gateway, infrastructure devices can be placed throughout a building as part of a corporate network. These devices will be similar to WiFi access points and would provide BLE beacons and communication services, allowing any Bluetooth enabled device to connect to the network.
There has also been rapid progress in the development of Bluetooth 5, the latest version of the Bluetooth wireless communication standard. The Bluetooth standards group is promising improved speed, greater range, more space in the beacons for full URLs and potentially better battery life. The hope is that with all these upgrades, Bluetooth will function similarly to WiFi WLANs making it the next protocol of choice for enterprise IoT.
SURE Universal’s platform supports any wireless protocol, meaning that their customers can use Bluetooth to enable the soul of IoT in their smart homes or in the enterprise.