Indoor Positioning, Tracking, And Navigation By Using Bluetooth Beacons

Bluetooth Beacons are transmitters that are tiny radio transmitters. They come in various sizes, colors, and shapes, rendering them ideal for a wide range of purposes and enabling seamless integration into any setting.

Hence, the benefits of a Bluetooth low energy beacon are self-evident. For example; they are inexpensive (between three and thirty euros), easy to install, and can accurately estimate a position within a few meters. Moreover, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is also an extremely energy-efficient technology. Client-based (interior navigation) and server-based (asset tracking) apps can employ beacons. If you are interested in knowing more about it, keep reading this article till the end!

Functionality:

For applications that require high accuracy and want to integrate Apple devices, indoor navigation with beacons (the most prevalent types are the iBeacon and Eddystone) offers significant benefits. When utilized in a client-based procedure, such as for airline passengers using an app, a BLE beacon provides indoor navigation that is cross-platform and accurate to 1 meter.

If the positioning data gets presented directly on a smartphone, it receives Bluetooth signals from beacons positioned in the building and calculates the signal strength. A client-based technique has a precision of 1-3 meters and a range of up to 30 meters. The present floor is also recognized when establishing the position.

Server-based tracking of people or items is possible with the receiver hardware. The Bluetooth beacon is connected to the object to be monitored, while the approved Bluetooth Low Energy standard provides tracking accuracy of a few meters.

Installation:

A grid-based utilization of beacons is proposed in a client-based strategy. The number of beacons required is determined by the room size and potential signal propagation impediments. Each location within the monitored area should ideally be monitored by three Bluetooth beacon signals.

Otherwise, the precise location cannot get determined. The rooms must get examined. Also, a floor plan with all items must be developed to establish the required number of beacons. As a general rule, we propose lowering the beacon’s transmission power while increasing the density of the installation. As a result, the network becomes more tightly woven. Also, the location accuracy improves.

Bluetooth beacon is often unaffected by other radio networks and does not impact medical devices. However, since BLE and Wi-Fi utilize the same frequency spectrum, interference can arise if beacons get installed in an area with more Wi-Fi signals. Bluetooth fills the other available channels in a consistent manner (frequency hopping). In the graphic, advertising mediums that can get used for placement are highlighted in red. Additional functionalities, such as a temperature sensor, are reserved for the blue-colored channels.

The Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology allows for two to eight years of battery life without using an external power supply. Bluetooth low energy beacon can also be powered by bulbs or by connecting to the power supply.

Signal Transmission:

During installation and parameterization, attenuations in Bluetooth signal dispersion within structures get taken into account.

  • Synthetic materials, wood, and glass have low attenuation qualities.
  • Marble and brick have medium attenuation qualities.
  • Concrete, plaster, and coated glass surfaces have high attenuation qualities.
  • Metal and water attenuation properties are really high.

Sensor Of Data:

Sensor data can also get provided through a Bluetooth beacon. Sensor capabilities might get included to detect movement, humidity, temperature, light, air pressure, and magnetism. It makes them especially well-suited for use in domestic and office automation, health, retailing, and industry.

Is Bluetooth Positioning Accurate?

Depending on the system design, hardware options, and density of deployed sensors or beacons, BLE indoor positioning and location systems can offer varying levels of accuracy. Indoor positioning utilizing BLE sensors or beacons can achieve a precision of fewer than 5 meters (with optimal deployment and conditions).

Like Wi-Fi technologies, Bluetooth often uses signal strength to estimate device locations. Identifying location typically produces positional accuracy in the meter range, which is far less exact than UWB. It utilizes Time of Flight distance-based measuring for centimeter-level precision. BLE isn’t the most precise RF technology for indoor locating right now.

But, it’s still quite frequently utilized. Because many indoor positioning applications do not necessitate a high level of precision, BLE is a viable choice that offers a variety of benefits, including flexibility, low power and price, and ease of installation.

With the release of Bluetooth 5.1 and its enhanced direction-finding technologies, BLE will be able to identify locations with sub-meter accuracy. This is due to the new capacity to calculate the direction of a Bluetooth signal using Angle of Arrival, which will be combined with identified signal strength (RSSI) to detect and track devices and assets with greater accuracy.

A mobile asset, such Bluetooth beacon, with a single antenna broadcasts to a stationary BLE sensor with a multi-antenna array to discover direction. The angle of approach of the sending mobile device gets determined by measuring the phase shift of the various antennas as a result of receiving the signal.

What is the BLE Range?

Depending on whether you’re utilizing BLE beacons or BLE-enabled sensors, or the nature of the indoor space, the range of BLE placement can vary. BLE has a lower range than other RF technologies, like UWB or Wi-Fi, with best results between 0 and 25 meters and up to 100 meters (with optimal deployment and conditions).

BLE beacon technology uses small devices that may be put on walls with ease. Their goal is to assist Smartphones in determining their location. BLE beacons get powered by batteries and consume relatively little energy. A single battery charge can last for years in a good Bluetooth beacon.

Many vendors produce BLE beacons that are compatible because BLE is an open industry standard. Signal stability, quality, battery life, and how the beacons get packaged vary by manufacturer.

Wrapping Up!

In a nutshell, we can say that the indoor location technique relies on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmissions from battery-powered beacons. It’s one of the most well-known indoor positioning technologies, and it’s now industry-standard and available on most devices. It uses BLE beacons (also known as iBeacons), which are low-cost, tiny, has a long battery life, and doesn’t require an external power source. Today‚Äôs gadgets (phone/watch, etc.) detect the beacon’s signal and estimate the distance to the Bluetooth beacon to estimate the user’s indoor location.