BLE, or Bluetooth® Low Energy, is wireless communication technology built to communicate and exchange data within a short range. It requires little battery power to operate and can quickly transfer small data packets to compatible devices. Today, virtually all smartphones, wearable technologies and other mobile devices can read and broadcast BLE data.
It all starts with a device called a beacon, which is a Bluetooth transmitter that broadcasts its presence. True to its name, a beacon transmits small increments of data to nearby compatible devices as often as every millisecond. Each beacon has a unique identifier, making it easy to distinguish between other beacons.
Companies use Bluetooth Low Energy for a variety of purposes, including supply chain management. Because each beacon has a unique identifier and communicates with other nearby beacons, companies use this technology to track equipment, assets, and employees. In addition, its low battery consumption makes it the ideal technology for these applications.
In addition to its low battery consumption, which is a major difference from Classic Bluetooth, BLE also offers greater device connectivity than its classic counterpart. While Classic Bluetooth can connect seven devices at once, BLE can simultaneously connect 20.
While its most common applications occur in the retail sector, most industries use BLE to identify, track and manage valuable assets. Here are several ways this technology can help your operations.
Bluetooth Low Energy is frequently used in asset tracking efforts. Companies will tag each item they’d like to track with beacon tags. This beacon broadcasts its unique ID to a BLE gateway (reader), which records the signal strength and data of the asset. This method makes it easy to maintain oversight of each unique asset with little human intervention, maximizing your workforce’s productivity.
In addition to tracking the asset’s location, BLE sensor beacons can record other sets of data as well, such as temperature, movement and speed.
Personnel tracking uses the BLE beacon embedded in company-owned mobile computers or employee IDs to track their employees throughout the job site. Whether you want to monitor daily operations or to locate employees in emergencies, personnel tracking ensures you have complete oversight of your workers. One example of BLE in action is Zebra’s MotionWorks Proximity, which uses the beacons in mobile computers to enforce social distancing protocols.
Beyond personnel tracking, companies also use this technology to track customers in unique situations. For example, hospitals and nursing homes use BLE to track patients who are at risk of getting lost.
Retail stores often use BLE in their marketing efforts. Because BLE is in virtually every smartphone device, marketing experts can advertise products to consumers based on their recorded location. If a customer interacts with a product tagged with BLE in-store, stores will also use that data to remarket that product online.