Asset tracking is seemingly finding its application in many businesses where track and trace solutions are highly in demand and businesses need real-time updates on the real-time location of assets and individuals. Various unfavorable business conditions such as the long Covid19 pandemic, changing customer expectations and increased market volatility have pushed for strengthening of existing infrastructure and the need to create a robust technology based digital infrastructure for real-time tracking of assets.
Various technologies including RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), BLE(Bluetooth Low Energy), UWB (Ultra-Wide Band), LPWAN (Low Powered Wide Area Network) etc. have increasingly created a strong foothold in track and trace solutions and Real Time Location Services (RTLS).
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacon Technology
Developed over the Bluetooth specification, BLE is a short range, wireless technology that is capable of data transmission in the form of small data packets in a periodical manner.
The BLE specification was first developed by Nokia in 2006 by the name Wibree. Nokia intended to create a wireless specification that had all the benefits of wireless standards such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc. but at a low power consumption rate.
In 2010, Wibree specification became part of Bluetooth 4.0 with the name of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and it has evolved quite a lot since then.
(BLE) has become a popular technology for asset tracking due to its low power consumption and low cost. The BLE beacon can be used for a variety of applications, from tracking shipment and inventory in warehouses to monitoring the position of patients and equipment's in healthcare facilities.
The Pros and Cons of BLE for Asset Tracking
When it comes to asset tracking, BLE is quite popular in the field of indoor navigation and indoor positioning. With the wide spread availability of Bluetooth enabled smartphones, BLE is actively chosen for short range tracking needs.
Like many other track and trace technologies, BLE also has some pros and cons as mentioned below:
The Pros of using BLE for asset tracking
Low Power Consumption
BLE uses less power than standard Bluetooth, making it an ideal choice for devices that need to operate for long periods without recharging. This means that devices can be placed in places that are difficult to reach and can remain active for years without requiring maintenance.
Low Cost of BLE devices
Another positive thing about BLE is BLE beacons being inexpensive and thereby making it a cost-effective solution for asset tracking. The cost of the device is also low because they require only a minimal amount of hardware for BLE functionality.
BLE is readily available on most smartphones and other standard consumer devices, meaning that it is a well-established technology. This availability makes it possible to incorporate BLE tracking into existing equipment without having to replace them with specialized purpose-built devices.
Widely available android devices support BLE and BLE APIs that allow discovery and data transmission with other BLE devices.
BLE beacons can be used for a wide range of applications, making BLE one of the most versatile technologies for asset tracking. The potentials of BLE include indoor navigation, inventory management, healthcare, and security, etc.
The Cons of using BLE for asset tracking
BLE has a limited range of up to 100 meters, making it less suitable for tracking assets in large areas. So, BLE is ideal for indoor tracking, but not for outdoor use.
Nearby 2.4GHz devices can interfere with BLE signals, potentially causing dropped connections or other issues. To overcome this problem, invest in high-quality BLE equipment or use special protocols to reduce interference.
BLE signals can be intercepted and analyzed, which could lead to data breaches and so, companies should implement a high level of security features to minimize the risk of data loss. The BLE 5.4 allows for encryption advertising data (EAD) which means your data while broadcasting is encrypted and safe.
While BLE uses less power than standard Bluetooth, it still requires batteries. As the batteries lose their charge, the signal strength weakens, making it harder to track the asset.
BLE offers a cost-effective, low-power solution for asset tracking, which can be useful in many applications. While it has some limitations such as range, interference, and security concerns, BLE has a bright future in asset tracking given the fact that it has low deployment costs and high battery life.
- Last updated on Jul 04, 2023