IoT and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are two technologies that enable a lot of interesting use cases. While the IoT is all about connecting the world, bluetooth le allows devices to communicate wirelessly. However, there are certain considerations each technology brings along with it.
What is bluetooth le?
Bluetooth low energy (BLE) is a family of short-range wireless connectivity protocols from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). based on the Bluetooth 4.0 le specification.
Bluetooth le technology allows mobile devices and computers to establish peer-to-peer communication without requiring a physical connection to a power source. In contrast to classic Bluetooth, which requires establishing a connection to a power source before establishing a connection.
BLE relies heavily on the Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) technique, which means that bluetooth le device communicate by accessing a channel for a fixed amount of time. Whenever a BLE device wants to send a data packet, it wakes up the BLE radio, establishes a connection, and begins transmitting data.
Devices can communicate using BLE over distances of a few meters to a few tens of meters. BLE uses less energy than classic Bluetooth but does not provide the range or speed of classic Bluetooth.
Bluetooth le Applications
The BLE uses IoT devices that do not have a power source, such as sensors.
BLE can also be used to connect IoT devices to mobile devices. For example, it can be used by mobile apps to connect and control IoT devices. But it can be used in conjunction with another IoT communication protocol, such as Thread, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, or NFC.
Bluetooth le device can be battery-powered or powered by an external source.
Bluetooth Low Energy is suited to connecting low-power devices in IoT scenarios. This communication protocol is not well suited for connecting high-power devices, such as smartphones, to low-power devices.
BLE has a range of about 10 meters, which limits it for use in small and confined areas. However, BLE can be used to connect IoT devices in larger areas through mesh networking.
You can use BLE in a number of different ways, depending on your own needs.
Fitness trackers use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to track your health statistics. For example, RunKeeper uses BLE to keep tabs on your steps, distance covered, pace, calories burned, and more. If your fitness tracker uses BLE, you can pair it with your phone to track your progress.
If you have an app that uses BLE, you can also pair it with your beacon. For example, if you own an e-commerce store, you can use BLE to provide product information to shoppers. These beacons can display various details about the products, such as their name, price, and review rating.
Medical devices can use BLE to connect you to your doctor. For example, Medtronic uses BLE to send reminders to pacemaker wearers to take their medicine.
Bluetooth low energy for Smart Homes
The BLE-based devices, once incorporated into a smart home system, can monitor and control various home appliances, such as lighting, climate control, security, and entertainment.
- The technology has the low power consumption advantage. Compared to Classic Bluetooth, Bluetooth low energy has a 15–40 percent lower power consumption.
- It enables applications to work up to 10 times longer before recharging.
- Also offers new features designed to make it secure, robust, and easy to use.
- Features an enhanced security model. The devices may transmit data encrypted using 128-bit keys with AES-GCM.
- Bluetooth low energy technology features 802.15.4-based mesh networking, which eliminates the need for a master-slave architecture.
Every technology has its disadvantages and BLE is no exception. The main ones are:
- Low bandwidth – not suitable for large data transfer applications
- Limited range (typically 1 -15 m, but steadily increasing with each iteration of the spec)
- Requires a gateway device to connect the end devices to the Internet (smartphones, dedicated gateway devices)
- Interference and noise from other protocols in the 2.4 GHz spectrum (WiFi, Bluetooth classic, ZigBee, etc)
- Can be difficult to debug issues with communications especially relating to longer ranges and interference
- A bit of a learning curve for newcomers to the technology
A lot of IoT projects are built around Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a type of radio technology that’s used in everything from fitness trackers to smart locks.
BLE has a relatively simple design. It’s designed to be paired with low-energy devices (the other end), which use considerably less power than the devices sending data. The low-power nature of BLE makes it ideal for use in battery-powered devices.
The BLE radio protocol is relatively simple, and it’s used for more than just IoT. BLE radio chips also are widely used in home automation, which makes sense, since bluetooth le devices need to communicate with one another to coordinate things like turning off lights.
The BLE standard also makes it relatively simple to add support for other networks, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth mesh. This allows devices to communicate with one another using whichever network is most convenient.