Bluetooth for Asset Tracking
Back in December we hosted a webinar looking at Asset Tracking at Scale Using Bluetooth Low Energy. We made the case that not only is Bluetooth the right choice for asset tracking and logistics, it’s actually the most exciting choice as well!
What’s so exciting about it? To start, the Bluetooth SIG is intentionally building its technology to allow for effective yet inexpensive asset tracking. The Bluetooth v5.1 specification significantly increases the protocol’s location accuracy. To take asset tracking to the next level combine BLE sensors/beacons with edge filtering and processing capabilities.
Interoperable and Affordable
Bluetooth provides a robust level of support for sensors of all types. The protocol offers bi-directional communication, enabling manageable over-the-air sensor configuration and firmware updating. It provides an excellent and scalable security model. It also allows for long range communication, resulting in a relatively low total number of required devices. Wireless edge infrastructure built on Bluetooth is not only therefore cheaper, the protocols ubiquity supports increased interoperability as well.
The proliferation of Bluetooth in the consumer space has resulted in a dual benefit in terms of solution costs. First, the ability to bring personal mobile devices into a commercial solution can reduce the need for additional badges or wristbands to track individuals. Second, chipset vendors have been making impressive reductions in power consumption. This is of particular note in asset tracking, where device battery consumption is a key solution consideration.
The use of Bluetooth in asset tracking solutions means an upgrade of traditional uses:
- Anticipating peak times. Locating important items is a common use, but understanding the traffic and utilization pattern of an item being used – such as a wheelchair in a hospital – elevates asset tracking to a next level of value.
- Improving resource allocation. In the hospital example, a cache of mission critical assets can be kept in the right place, at the right time, to reduce the cost of operations on multiple levels.
- Algorithms applied to distributed, real-time decisions. A common HVAC system example is automated adjustments based on conditions within different parts of a building. Occupant / tenant comfort is optimized and improved while energy costs are being reduced.
- Finding non-obvious relationships and patterns. For example, how dwell time from an occupancy sensor in a stairwell can predict activities taking place there other than stair climbing.
Making these possible requires not just the use of Bluetooth but also edge-capable gateways that process, filter and utilize data correctly and reliably.
In January 2019, the Bluetooth SIG announced the Core Specification v5.1 for Continuous Tone Extensions. The result is that application location accuracy levels previously measured within a meter range can now be detected down to the centimeter. That’s huge. More precise and accurate location results are allowed without the drawbacks of a traditional range-based approximation.
Taking advantage of the new specification, however, does require significant hardware changes. Expect that it will take several quarters before becoming commercially available in hardware. Continuous Tone Extensions hold a lot of promise for future development of asset tracking and logistics solutions, and we are excited to follow the progress of the technology.
The pinpoint accuracy, affordable infrastructure and operating costs, and ability to deliver real-time asset monitoring and tracking data all make Bluetooth the right selection for the next generation of Asset Tracking solutions.
For further information read our White Paper “Asset Tracking at Scale Using Bluetooth Low Energy” and visit our Enterprise Bluetooth Applications and Use Cases page ⟶
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