Why choose Bluetooth® LE for your RTLS projects

Bluetooth Low Energy

Bluetooth Low Energy was born as part of the basic Bluetooth 4.0 specification. Initially designed by Nokia as Wibree, and then adopted by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), its initial goal was to provide a radio standard with the lowest possible power consumption, specifically optimized for communication between smart devices over short distances, with low cost, low bandwidth, low power, and low complexity.
Unlike classic Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy technology allows for significant energy savings by consuming up to 100 times less than traditional Bluetooth, and this reduced consumption allows for a considerable increase in the battery life of the devices.
Initially Bluetooth 4.0 technology was known only for its communication capabilities between devices. Today, however, Bluetooth, thanks to its evolution to Low Energy, has increased its areas of use, and has become a reference technology for localization and monitoring solutions, especially in the indoor environment.
Thus, Bluetooth Low Energy becomes a key technology for the IoT, allowing sensors and devices to be connected with extreme simplicity to collect valuable data to simplify and improve business and industrial activities.

RTLS: why choose Bluetooth Low Energy as an enabling technology?

There are various technologies besides Bluetooth LE to implement Real-Time Locating Systems (RTLS), including RFID, UWB, and Wi-Fi, each of which has its own unique characteristics, implementation requirements, strengths and weaknesses.
The options are therefore numerous: the choice of one technology over the other often depends on the specific needs and characteristics of the project.
However, there are many characteristics that make Bluetooth Low Energy an advantageous technology compared to the others, in relation to the implementation of RTLS solutions:

low-power consumption: Bluetooth LE has been designed to consume less power than classic Bluetooth or other active radio technologies (such as Wi -Fi or UWB). This allows to have tracking devices (tags) that run for years on a small button cell battery.
low-cost: Bluetooth LE technology integrated circuits are designed to have a low cost. Furthermore, the great diffusion of Bluetooth LE technology (present on smartphones, tablets, wearables, electronic devices in general) allows to reach significant production volumes, which allow a considerable cost containment, with consequent benefit on the final price of the devices (tags, beacons, gateways) Bluetooth LE.
flexibility: compared to high technologies whose strength is linked to specific application niches (e.g., UWB is ideal for high-budget applications with stringent precision requirements), Bluetooth LE makes possible to create solutions that adapt flexibly to the most diverse application, functional and economic needs: you can go from more accurate systems based on AoA (Angle of Arrival) or AoD (Angle of Departure) type technologies to simpler systems, able to trace only proximity or presence; from more complex systems up to extremely simple and economical systems, which do not require cabling or accessory IT infrastructures.
scalability: expanding a Bluetooth LE-based RTLS, either functionally or in size, is generally a relatively simple task. For example, thanks to the wide availability of Bluetooth LE sensors, the antennas of a Bluetooth LE RTLS can also become the nodes of a wireless sensor network, thus integrating localization functions with those of monitoring physical or environmental parameters.
market adoption: Bluetooth LE is easy to use and most consumer and industrial electronic devices are equipped with Bluetooth LE, making integration into RTLS Bluetooth LE systems possible.
Bluetooth LE is IoT-ready: all the characteristics listed above make Bluetooth LE perfect for creating IoT ready solutions.
Thanks to its unique characteristics, Bluetooth LE is the best solution for Local Area Tracking applications, i.e. for locating and tracking applications for resources or people in a confined area, which can be indoor (offices, hospital), outdoor (car park), or both indoor and outdoor (production plant with external warehouse).
When choosing the technology for localization systems, there is often a tendency to think that Bluetooth is inaccurate or inferior to alternative technologies. This feeling is sometimes supported by the presence of improvised technology suppliers on the market.
Actually, Bluetooth LE today can meet the most varied needs, thanks to multiple localization methods and algorithms. When sub-meter accuracy is required, adopting AoA or AoD systems allow to easily meet the requirements. With standard techniques based on signal strength (RSSI), applications ranging from simple presence, to proximity (to specific points of interest), to location to within a few meters can be implemented. With mesh technologies (such as Wirepas Mesh 2.4GHz, which although not standard Bluetooth uses the same radio and the same channels), it is possible to greatly simplify the architecture of tracking systems, completely removing wiring and drastically lowering installation costs. Ultimately, Bluetooth LE is the only technology on the market today, capable of responding to all the functional and application requirements typically required.
With all of Bluetooth LE capabilities, flexibility, and easy integration with other technologies, total Bluetooth RTLS deployments are projected to grow 2.5x over the next five years, with the fastest growing segments in healthcare, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing and smart building applications. ABI Research predicts that Bluetooth LE will be the fastest growing technology along with UWB in the coming years in the positioning landscape.

BlueUp RTLS solutions

The RTLS solutions offered by BlueUp are all based on the Bluetooth® LE standard or compatible wireless protocols (such as Wirepas Mesh 2.4GHz).

MeshCube presents a completely wireless infrastructure based on a communication network in Wirepas Mesh 2.4GHz (discussed above). With this technology all design, installation and wiring costs are reduced to almost zero, making extremely economical and suitable for applications of automatic inventory, asset tracking, distributed monitoring via sensors.
LocateBLE allows the localization of assets and people in real time through algorithms based on RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) and trilateration. The rewarding feature of LocateBLE is its independence from hardware: the platform is designed to be compatible with multiple types of Bluetooth LE antennas on the market, Bluetooth LE gateways, WiFi access points or Zigbee nodes with Bluetooth LE interface, ... . This flexibility, makes LocateBLE suitable for a wide range of asset tracking applications.
AccuRTLS is the ideal solution if location accuracy is the key requirement. AccuRTLS provides state-of-the-art performance, with real-time tracking and accuracy up to a few tens of centimeters in a real operating environment, thanks to RTLS technology Bluetooth LE Angle of Arrival, developed by Quuppa.

Hybrid solutions

There are also cases in which, in the same project, there are environments where it is easy to develop a wired infrastructure, while in other environments this is impossible.
These needs can be met with hybrid solutions. To do this you can resort to adopting a mix of the various solutions offered by BlueUp.
A hybrid solution could be created by combining, for example, MeshCube with AccuRTLS, or with LocateBLE:

MeshCube + AccuRTLS

MeshCube: periodic tracking, medium accuracy, wireless infrastructure.
Scenario: quasi-static conditions (e.g. warehouse).
AccuRTLS: real-time localization, high accuracy, IT infrastructure for communication and antenna power supply.
Scenario: accurate localization in specific areas (e.g. production line, …).

MeshCube + LocateBLE

MeshCube: periodic tracking, medium accuracy, wireless infrastructure.
Scenario: quasi-static conditions (e.g. warehouse).
LocateBLE: real-time localization, average accuracy, cabling for antennas
Scenario: localization in real time on specific areas (e.g. exit/entrance gates, assembly points, ...).

Do you want to find out if BlueUp solutions in Bluetooth Low Energy technology (and compatible technologies) can help you in your reality?
Contact us to find out more! 😊