Bluetooth Low Energy: Enabling The Internet of Things


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Bluetooth Low Energy: Enabling The Internet of Things

  1. 1. BLUETOOTH LOW ENERGY: ENABLING THE INTERNET OF THINGS R BY BARTLEY GILLAN, HARDWARE, CHAOTIC MOON LABS “THE CONNECTED DEVICE MARKET HAS EXPLODED SUCH THAT MOST EVERY NEW GADGET IS EXPECTED TO LEVERAGE THE POWER OF OUR SMARTPHONES.” emember when Bluetooth was nothing more than oddly shaped hunks of plastic sticking out of people’s ears? Flash forward a decade and Bluetooth is still enabling conversations, though these days it’s between devices and the world around them. Bluetooth has always had the ability to extend our phone’s capabilities to other devices, but that traditionally was limited to hands-free phone systems and music playback. The past couple of years, however, has seen the introduction of smartphones that support Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy or Bluetooth Smart, if you prefer.) This has enabled an explosion of connected devices that exchange small amounts of data via Bluetooth Low Energy connections. How did this happen? Well, several significant changes in the Bluetooth 4.0 ecosystem have made it much easier to bring smartphone connected devices to market. Historically, if a device manufacturer wanted to create an iPhone appcessory — a connected hardware device that communicates with an iPhone app — they had to apply for access to Apple’s Made for iPhone program. If approved, the manufacturer could then gain access to the accessory documentation and order Apple authentication chips that let their devices to connect with an iPhone (but not without signing a strict NDA first). With the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy in the iPhone 4, Apple dropped their walled-garden approach to accessories and embraced the full potential of the Bluetooth Low Energy spec. This allowed many appces- sories to work with iOS devices quicker and at lower cost than before. Unfortunately, appcessory manufacturers have only recently been able to offer Android device compatibility, as Android waited until 4.3 to provide built-in Bluetooth Low Energy support. As its monicker implies, Bluetooth Low Energy has significantly decreased power consumption. This enables lost-and-found Bluetooth-compatible tags like Chipolo to operate on a disposable coin-cell battery for up to a year, making battery charging or replacement an infrequent nuisance. Another way Bluetooth Low Energy stands apart from older Bluetooth implementations is how easy it is to pair devices. Gone are the days of having to manually pair devices, entering passcodes and being unable to pair more than one device at a time. Today, Bluetooth allows smartphone apps to exchange data with devices passively in the background — and to communicate with more than one compatible device simultaneously. Apple’s recent introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy location devices, or iBeacons, is one such example of this new ease of connectivity. The connected device market has exploded such that most every new gadget is expected to leverage the power of our smartphones, and Bluetooth Low Energy is what makes that happen. Wearable activity trackers, lostand-found tags, and door locks are just the beginning of the new wave of technology enabled by Bluetooth. Thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy, you can soon expect the “things” in Internet of Things to be plentiful. THE INTERNET OF THINGS... SO FAR. MY FAVORITE BLUETOOTH-COMPATIBLE PRODUCTS: TILE Solves the problem of lost items with trackable tags that sound off when misplaced. BASIS B1 BAND Meaningfully tracks a user’s activities, giving them the info they need to create healthy habits . COIN KEVO Simplifies payments like no other digital wallet has — by storing multiple cards within a single, swipeable card. Turns iPhones into keys that unlock digital deadbolts with a quick touch. CALL US TODAY. Chaotic Moon is 90+ of the most talented thinkers, designers and engineers the world has ever known. Our dreamers and doers are hell-bent on changing the world through better experience design. Through talent, expertise and sheer brute force, we transform bold ideas into the world’s best software products. 512.420.8800 319 Congress Ave. Suite 200 Austin, TX 78701