"The future of BLE entails evolution of BLE as low cost sensors and positioning beacons, its extended applications in retail inventory management, position based advertising, RTLS, etc."
Every year breakthroughs happen, more so in the technological innovation arena and not every advent becomes a standard in industry. Some are more useful than others and some just fade into oblivion and become things of the past. As a new wireless communication technology, Bluetooth low energy has transformed how we broadcast and advertise information, capture data, and ensure positioning and indoor navigation for personal and business use.
BLE is a secure, short-range, low-energy-consuming IoT that can broadcast Wireless Bluetooth signals on a regular interval, acting as a beacon. It is low-consuming because it sends out signals on an interval and the data transfer rate is lower than Bluetooth classic.
It finds many applications in short-range wireless communication and data transmission as a low-power-consuming beacon. I’ve already written a few blogs on how BLE can increase supply chain visibility, its applications in retail inventory and electronic shelves, advertising, and marketing but let’s see what the future of BLE as an IoT is. Would it become industry standard or would it be replaced by a new technology soon and just fade into oblivion?
The Future of BLE
The use of IoT in transforming industries and creating major social changes is quite apparent and as we move from villages and cities towards smart homes in smart cities, we wonder what next is possible.
Bluetooth low energy (BLE) has become quite useful in various business and utility applications. It’s cost-effective and efficient as a beacon, broadcasting valuable information on location, and identification as well as various sensing information such as temperature, humidity, toxic gases, light, and sound.
Let’s see how Bluetooth Low energy will be used in the future, and explore new BLE applications in providing great access to information to industries and society altogether:
Smart Administration with BLE
Bluetooth low-energy technology can be used to automate various administration works, providing better information and services to the public, i.e. a smart administration.
BLE beacons can be used outside public offices and at various crucial locations in a smart city, to help people with crucial information.
Smart Healthcare and Fitness with BLE
BLE can also be used to create smart healthcare by combining it with heart monitors and proximity-based sensors such as BLE Wearables. Fitness trackers can use BLE technology to communicate various health indices to Bluetooth-enabled smartphones of the user as well. BLE can also be used to broadcast information that patients need at a healthcare facility/ hospital, improving patient outcomes.
Tourism with BLE
The tourism sector can benefit immensely from technology, especially Bluetooth low energy. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology is transforming how tourists experience places and activities. BLE beacons can be used to help tourists with various utilities, public toilets, city maps, famous attractions, popular delicacies, and safe/ unsafe zones, providing them with a wholesome tourist experience.
BLE beacons placed near tourist attractions, landmarks, and areas of interest provide pertinent information, such as historical data, interactive maps, audio tours, and promotional offers, straight to visitors' smartphones or tablets. Such proximity-based communication provides personalized and context-aware experiences, allowing travelers to explore sites at their leisure while accessing rich multimedia material suited to their preferences.
Apart from that, BLE can be used at museums and near various ancient artifacts to help tourists with an eventful experience.
More Smart Cities with BLE
BLE can be used for various smart city projects. The Smart city architecture mostly includes people, governance, and services. A service structure based on a business model includes E-Government, E-democracy, E-Business, E-health, E-Security, Intelligent Transportation, Communication, E-learning, Environment, and E-education and BLE can be used in all of them in various creative ways.
The use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology in smart city initiatives is fast altering urban landscapes into more connected, efficient, and sustainable spaces. BLE beacons strategically placed around smart cities offer a variety of applications aimed at improving citizen services, infrastructure, and quality of life. These beacons enable location-based services, allowing residents and tourists to easily access information, traverse urban settings, and locate local resources.
Furthermore, BLE-enabled sensors embedded in urban infrastructure, such as streetlights, parking meters, and trash bins, allow for real-time monitoring and management, resulting in more effective resource utilization and lower operating costs.
Smart Supply Chain and Manufacturing
Future supply chain networks need to be agile in the face of new challenges. BLE can help with that. BLE can be used to identify and track assets inside an inventory and to increase the overall supply chain visibility. With increasing customer expectations regarding their products, supply chain, and manufacturing businesses need to adopt technological means and BLE will prove to be one such cost-effective and efficient technology in the future.
Innovations in BLE
Another important innovation in BLE technology is the use of BLE beacons not just as information-sharing beacons but as BLE sensor tags as well. These BLE sensors are created by adding sensing components within the BLE beacon unit. Fitted with temperature sensors, humidity sensors, light, sound, and proximity sensors, these BLE beacons can sense these parameters in the deployed environment and share/advertise that data on end users’ smartphones.
When BLE and UWB come together
Bluetooth low energy itself is a product of innovation in Bluetooth classic. When Bluetooth 4.1 was launched in 2009-2010, as smart Bluetooth, it broke away with the notion of inefficient Bluetooth. It was originally developed by Nokia and it has no compatibility with Bluetooth classic.
Bluetooth Low Energy has now created a niche in low power consumption, and short rate transmission in the line of NFC and Wi-Fi, and there are various possibilities for innovations in BLE and how it is used with other technologies of the day.
It can be combined with Ultra Wide Band (UWB) to detect proximity-based locations of individuals and objects as well. The BLE part of this will detect nearby locations and trigger the UWB part for accurate data in small changes in movement and direction to communicate with the human-machine interface. It will improve spatial awareness in terms of tracing and tracking an asset.
To summarize, BLE technology is quickly gaining traction as a modern IoT technology, offering low power consumption in battery powered IoT devices and wearables while sharing information over short distances. BLE technology is also being popular as wearable technology where wearables like fitness trackers, smartbands, smartwatches, healthcare devices use BLE technology and various sensors for measuring temperature, humidity, oxygen levels, light, sound, heart vitals, etc.