"Innovation is the difference between leaders and followers" -Steve Jobs, former CEO, Apple Inc.
At a time when innovation is the need of the hour and has become synonymous with progress and modernity in almost every area, when industry 4.0 is looking to revolutionize how we produce and manufacture and experience the service sector, countries all over the globe are heavily banking on ‘IoT’ as a mean to add competitive advantage in the market, be it retail, services, manufacturing, logistics and supply chain, healthcare or education and utility, and to ensure a high level of social development and living standards and even comfort.
Bluetooth low energy (BLE) and Wi-Fi are two innovations that have changed our day to day life. While BLE is still catching on in terms of day to day life, it is heavily used in businesses and Wi-Fi has truly become our daily driver.
Let’s see which is better for IoT applications, BLE or Wi-Fi;
What is IoT?
‘Internet of Thing’ or ‘IoT’ as an idea was formulated in 1999 as a system to enable communication (data exchange) between physical world and computers through sensors (technology).
About a decade later around 2008 and 2009, Internet of Things (IoT) became so prevalent that the number of devices connected to internet exceeded the number of people on the globe at the moment. The age of ‘internet of everything’, people called it.
At present, various wireless technologies are capable of transferring data between two objects with ease and BLE and Wi-Fi are such technologies. As IoT, these two technologies are used at home as well as for simplifying business operations like inventory management, identification and asset tracking etc.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) as IoT
As an IoT, BLE is capable of broadcasting information using Bluetooth signals (wireless communication at 2.4GHz-2.483GHz ISM band). In businesses like retail, supply chain and logistics, inventory management, education etc., BLE is used as a BLE beacon to broadcast information that can be accessed on bluetooth capable devices like mobile phones. Since every mobile phone is now a smartphone, BLE has become quite prevalent.
Wi-Fi as IoT
Wi-Fi has become a versatile tool for IoT devices. With 18M of Wi-Fi enabled device and the fact that many IoT dveices are controlled through smartphnones, Wi-Fi has become a very important IoT enabler.
Operating at a frequency of 2.4GHz and 5 GHz (range 1GHz-6GHz), Wi-Fi not only controls our smartphones, tablets but Wi-Fi enabled light bulbs, location tracking devices, 4k audio and video streaming devices, manufacturing robots, drones etc. as well.
With its reliable and sophisticated connectivity and cost effective deployment, Wi-Fi is the most prevalent IoT tool at present.
IoT applications of BLE and WiFi: Which is better?
Bluetooth Low energy was developed as an alternative to Bluetooth classic, to reduce the power consumption and increase the efficiency in terms of data transfer and range and it has achieved these objectives successfully. Wi-Fi on the other hand is quite versatile and finds greater use in IoT than BLE.
Let’s see how these two, BLE and Wi-Fi, perform in terms of IoT applications:
Since BLE is primarily used as Bluetooth beacon and Wi-Fi doesn’t need specialized gate way and is simply deployed in IoT applications, then it’s fair to say that in terms of implementation cost, BLE is not just as cost effective as Wi-Fi.
Though BLE offers low power consumption when used as beacons as it sends out data on a regular interval.
In terms of connectivity, BLE and Wi-Fi, both offer pervasive connectivity as both of these technologies have become an important part of smartphones and tablets, which often control most of IoT applications.
Connecting BLE and Wi-Fi is just as easy as clicking a button.
Security: Wi-Fi WPA3 Security and BLE AES 128 bit encryption
BLE uses AES-CCM cipher with 128 bit key length for protecting data through encryption over wireless link whereas Wi-Fi uses WPA3 security that employs GCMP-256 encryption, which provides better data protection.
Location awareness and geo tagging:
BLE and Wi-Fi, both are capable of geo tagging and provide accurate location within 1m range.
To conclude, BLE and Wi-Fi, both are wireless technologies that are quite efficient. BLE is quite low power consuming, and cost effective, while Wi-Fi is quite versatile, reliable and cost effective.
Both of these two technologies find IoT application in retail, logistics and supply chain, asset tracking and identification as well as education, healthcare etc.
- Last updated on Mar 27, 2023