“BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is an IoT technology that finds PAwR BLE applications in medicine, retail, location tracking, supply chain and logistics, personal health, and asset and inventory management.”
Use of technology in business and in personal life is what defines this era. The industrial revolution 4.0, Industry 4.0 is all about realizing the potential of Internet of Things (IoT) along with other modern day technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Additive Manufacturing, Simulation, Blockchain, and more. Use of cyber physical systems to build intelligent network of machines and to monitor and optimize the industrial production is what drives this industrial age.
In personal life technologies such as IoT have been playing a crucial role as well. Technologies like BLE and RFID are enabling a new trend of proximity based sensing applications, monitoring access control, security, home automation as well as health. Various smartbands and smartwatches are now available that can monitor your vitals and keep you updated on your health all the time, including when you sleep. When you go out running, it can monitor your heart rate and blood oxygen levels. While you run, it can also inform you if someone is trying to force enter your home or office.
So, you see that technology has become an integral part of our daily lives in this day and age. Off all these technologies, Bluetooth Low Energy is definitely turning some eyeballs, many actually.
Therefore, let’s see what this technology is in detail and what are the BLE applications in various areas, business and personal.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE): An Introduction
In simple words, to introduce BLE, you can say that BLE is an IoT technology developed over the Bluetooth 4.0 standard (2010) which is capable of sending periodic advertising signals with response (PAwR) enabling a short distance bidirectional communication at low energy consumption.
See, Nokia developed a communication standard in 2006 named Wibree, which was capable of what other technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth classic could do but at low power consumption. Since most IoT devices are battery run devices, power consumption is (was) a significant factor in deployment costs. It defines the life of the device. So Nokia was way ahead in thinking about this. Later in 2010, when Bluetooth 4.0 update was released, Wibree became the Bluetooth Low Energy standard as we know today. The BLE 5.4 standard was released in February 2023 which also included the release of Electronic Shelf labels (ESL). It offers “retailers the ability to automate pricing, establish more efficient in-store operations, and increase shopper satisfaction”.
BLE applications in retail and medicine are about short range communication between two BLE enabled devices where one is acting as transmitter and other is the receiver. Often this communication is bi-directional. See, BLE has this unique ability to act as a BLE beacon where it sends out low Energy signals like a lighthouse on the coast sends signals to the upcoming boats and ships that the coast is nearby and they can drop the anchor. BLE does the same. It sends low energy signal which is received by the BLE enabled receiver, say a smartphone. It can then decode/read the signal for the end users.
This PAwR ( Periodic Advertisement with Response) is a great feature of BLE devices and it is used in various proximity based advertisement applications in retail as well as healthcare, transportation, education, and asset tracking and management, inventory control, warehouse management and other IoT applications.
What makes this technology more accessible and popular is the fact that it uses your smartphone as a receiver so the deployment cost is low.
Let’s see some of BLE applications in various fields:
BLE Applications in Retail
In a retail store, BLE beacons can deliver targeted advertisements and promotions to customers based on their proximity to specific products or areas. This enhances the customer shopping experience to a great degree and gives them a smart shopping experience.
BLE technology can enable indoor positioning systems, allowing customers to navigate and find products within a store using their smartphones. Customers can self navigate and don’t have to talk to a staff member if they don’t want to.
BLE can facilitate secure and convenient mobile payment transactions between customers and retailers as well, unlocking the potential for cashless payments.
BLE tags can be attached to products, enabling real-time tracking and monitoring of inventory levels, helping retailers optimize stock management and prevent out-of-stock situations. This saves shop keepers the potential losses and ensures customer loyalty as people don’t like Out-of-stock situations.
BLE Applications in Medicines and Health
Remote Patient Monitoring
BLE-enabled devices can transmit health data, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels, from patients to healthcare providers in real-time, enabling remote monitoring and timely interventions. This is proved to be a miracle for old-age patients that cannot take the trip to hospitals on regular basis. In remote areas, this is equally useful.
BLE-enabled smart pill bottles or medication dispensers can send reminders and track medication adherence, providing patients with timely reminders to take their medication. This is a new level of personalization using IoT/BLE.
Wearable Health Devices
BLE is commonly used in wearable health devices, such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, and smart wristbands to collect and transmit biometric data to smartphones or other devices for monitoring and analysis. The BLE enabled wearable market is on the boom given the demand for wearables at present, as a fashion accessory.
BLE sensors can be used in telemedicine applications to facilitate remote consultations and diagnostics, enabling healthcare professionals to provide virtual care to patients in remote locations.
Asset Tracking with BLE tags
BLE tags can be attached to valuable assets, such as equipment, vehicles, or containers, allowing businesses to track their location and monitor their status in real-time. It allows for better productivity at workplace as people don’t have to spend time looking for a particular asset.
Supply Chain Management
BLE technology can be used to track and monitor the movement of goods throughout the supply chain, providing visibility and control over inventory levels and reducing the risk of lost or stolen items. BLE technology reduces stock shrinkage and enables an accurate inventory management. With accurate stock data, timely replenishment is ensured and losses are prevented.
BLE beacons can also be deployed in warehouses to enable precise indoor positioning and tracking of assets, optimizing inventory management and streamlining logistics operations. It also accurately tracks items coming in and going out of the warehouse at any given moment which leads to efficient inventory control and accurate stock levels.
Use of BLE sensors is also important in monitoring the condition and performance of equipments, enabling predictive maintenance and reducing downtime by detecting potential issues before they escalate.
BLE Applications in Proximity Advertisement and Smart Homes
BLE can be used to connect and control various smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats, and security systems, allowing homeowners to manage and automate their homes remotely. You can control the light bulbs and the intensity of the bulbs in any room, any time simply using a mobile app.
BLE-enabled smart meters and sensors can monitor energy consumption in homes, enabling homeowners to track and optimize their energy usage for cost savings and environmental sustainability. By remotely controlling electricity run devices, you can turn on/off devices at will and monitor the electricity uses throughout the house.
BLE-enabled security systems can provide wireless connectivity between sensors, cameras, and control panels, allowing homeowners to monitor and secure their homes remotely. Using a mobile app and BLE proximity sensors, you can monitor who enters your home, even when you are out for a run.
These are just a few examples of how BLE technology is being applied in various industries and domains. The technology consumes low power and it is very versatile and that is why BLE is a popular choice for a wide range of applications in retail, healthcare, asset management, inventory control, proximity advertising, smart homes etc.
- Last updated on Aug 16, 2023