Bluetooth v5.1 – Setting the Stage for Improved Direction Finding

Bluetooth v5.1

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) released details of the direction finding feature in the newest version of Bluetooth. In version 5.1 of the Bluetooth Core Specification the stage is set for significantly improved direction finding abilities of Bluetooth. Combined with low cost and interoperability, this further solidifies Bluetooth’s role as the preeminent protocol for Asset Tracking and Way-finding uses cases.

Direction Finding Use Cases and Applications

Rigado has been helping our customers to build Asset Tracking applications using Bluetooth for many years now, and we have some great use cases and applications. But solutions for location applications can be a challenge to architect and achieve a high desired level of accuracy.

Bluetooth v5.1 addresses this by enabling positioning systems to to more easily determine more precise asset location information.

“Positioning systems use Bluetooth to determine the physical location of devices and include real-time locating systems (RTLS), such as those used for asset tracking, as well as indoor positioning systems (IPS), like those for indoor wayfinding. Today, Bluetooth positioning systems can achieve meter-level accuracy when determining the physical location of a device. By adding the new the direction finding feature, these positioning systems could improve their location accuracy down to the centimeter-level.” Bluetooth SIG

A key change in the specification is the addition of “Continuous Tone Extensions” which will enable gateways to either determine the Angle of Arrival (AoA) of a message from a Bluetooth device or enable the Bluetooth device to determine the Angle of Departure (AoD) of a signal from the gateway to the device. Accuracy can be improved by adding AoA to existing asset tracking solutions. AoD can be added similarly to improve accuracy on internal way-finding applications.

Bluetooth Benefits

Bluetooth has already been a great choice of protocol for Asset Tracking location applications based on its ability to additionally provide sensing and monitoring data. Affordable network infrastructure, long end device battery life, and the dropping cost of beacons and tags are all compelling reasons to consider Bluetooth as your Asset Tracking wireless protocol of choice.

The key takeaway from the announcement today is that the Bluetooth SIG is actively working to reduce its own barriers to growth and scale in commercial environments. The significance of that commitment should be appreciated. As an active member of the Bluetooth SIG, Rigado is helping to lead the way in the future of wireless data infrastructure for commercial IoT. We’re investing in AoA and are excited about what it will provide to the Asset Tracking market.

More details about Bluetooth version 5.1 can be found on the Bluetooth Blog.

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