23rd July - Valencia.
The rising need for embedded and wireless connectivity in most electronic gadgets and consumer wearables products has led to an upsurge in demand for Bluetooth technology
Further, the rapid growth in IoT applications and the increasing demand for consumer electronics such as smartphones, tablets, smart TV, laptops, and PCs are the key driving factor for its continued growth.
In 1999, the release of Bluetooth Classic technology was ground-breaking. It allowed the ditching of cables and enabled the sending of data, music, and conversations between our devices and headphones wirelessly. The problem was, Bluetooth Classic needed a lot of battery power, making it impractical for hearing aids. In early 2020, a consortium of over 34,000 companies known as the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced the creation of LE Audio (Bluetooth 5.2). Now, after a year of development, most hearing aid brands and Bluetooth device manufacturers are set to release LE Audio-equipped devices that incorporate this technology.
Bluetooth Low Energy 5.2 Audio Apps
Imagine walking into an airport and tapping a prompt on your smartphone. Immediately, your Bluetooth hearing aids receive a live stream of sounds from the announcement channel of your airline. Or, how about sitting in the last row of the audience at a public presentation? There’s too much ambient noise to understand the presenter, so you connect your Bluetooth hearing aids to a private broadcast that beams crystal-clear audio directly to your ears.
That’s the future of Bluetooth, and the new Bluetooth 5.2 “LE Audio” standard is making it possible. Over the next several years, headphones, earbuds, and hearing aids equipped with Bluetooth LE Audio technology are set to radically transform the way we enjoy the world around us – with improved sound quality, better connectivity, and longer battery life.
The most exciting advances are:
Connectivity in the Automotive Market
The demand for smartphone-operated cars is driving the development of Bluetooth in the automotive industry. Furthermore, the use of this technology allows for automotive diagnostic inspection, which improves vehicle's safety. Bluetooth in automobiles serves as a bridge between the car and telecommunications industries. The market for Bluetooth in cars is projected to rise as smartphones and infotainment platforms such as Apple CarPlay, Spotify, and Android Auto become more integrated. As a result, a growing number of automakers are incorporating this technology into their cars in order to meet consumer demand.
Given its extensive ecosystem, low-power nature, and ubiquitous presence in smartphones, Bluetooth Low Energy is becoming the preferred wireless technology for enabling new use cases in automotive applications. Such use cases include phone-as-a-key, cable replacement for body applications, battery-management systems, infotainment, and wireless sensors.
Secure car access applications are bringing a corresponding development of specifications that will ensure the security and accuracy of the phone-as-a-key solution. Customization is an inherent benefit that allows drivers and passengers to seamlessly adjust the position of mirrors, seats, and the steering wheel. Based on the location of their respective phones, it is possible to identify the driver and passengers, allowing personalized settings for the infotainment system based on each user’s profile. Additionally, it is possible to create shared keys for friends and family as well as temporary digital keys for valets, making phone-as-a-key a convenient feature for car sharing.
Piloted Parking Often referred to as assisted or remote parking, the convenience offered to the driver by piloted parking is unparalleled. This works on a simple idea — when the driver exits the vehicle, they can activate piloted parking on their smartphone app. This results in the car automatically manoeuvring to a nearby parking space and parking there! Even if there is limited parking space, the sensors in the vehicle enable it to fit perfectly into the parking spot. This would have been a difficult task if the driver was parking the car manually.
Car Servicing Bluetooth is widely used in establishing connectivity between a car and the computers at a car service station. In such a scenario, this connection is live as soon as the vehicle enters the service station premises. The main computer at the station notifies the service personnel about the task and then his system connects with the vehicle wirelessly. The necessary information is also downloaded from the vehicle.
Growth of Bluetooth Location Services- and impacting Retail with Beacon technology
According to a market trends survey by Bluetooth, Bluetooth Location devices will trend upward over the next five years thanks to continued interest in asset tracking and indoor positioning use cases, analysts expect growth to achieve a 32 percent rise in CAGR through 2025. More than half of of Bluetooth Location Services implementations around the world support ‘retail and services’ use cases, according to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).
Industries, in particular Retail, have been waiting a long time for smart technology companies, to bring in new advances that can empower smart phone users with the ability to enhance the communication process, while gathering key data and insights on the customers’ journey and overall experience.
Beacons, used by retailers for proximity marketing and communication, have been around for years. However, the legacy issues surrounding Bluetooth technology, particularly the impact on mobile phone battery life, has hindered adoption and success in the market.
As mobile communication increases, wireless communication devices like toys, gaming devices, headphones, smartphones, and watches are working using BLE with just one charge.
Considering the investment retailers are now placing on customer retention, through developing complex loyalty schemes and mobile applications, using beacon technology is now more important than ever for improving engagement with the customers. Or, linking a customer’s online profile with their physical journey.
Indoor navigation is the most common use case reported by Bluetooth SIG. The Bluetooth 5.1 standard enhanced locating capability by adding angle of arrival capability, whereby a locating antenna anchor array can track enabled BLE devices more closely. This can be used to locate people or physical assets in a building. Nearly 80 per cent of all Bluetooth Location Services implementations include indoor navigation, it reports. Point of interest information accounted for 67 per cent of Bluetooth Location Services use cases. Personnel and equipment tracking accounted for 21 per cent and 17 per cent of Bluetooth Location Services use cases respectively. Bluetooth tracking tags accounted for the “vast majority” of Bluetooth Location Services device shipments globally, according to Bluetooth SIG. Apple recently announced a Bluetooth-enabled tracking tag, the AirTag, for the consumer market.
Upsurge in IoT and Wearables
More IoT devices rely on Bluetooth technology than any other wireless solution, making it the #1 technology for the IoT. Analysts predict that — due to a greater focus on health and wellness and the shift to working from home — wearables and PC accessories will see a significant boost.
IoT has brought a revolution in the world of technology and connectivity. Bluetooth, with its extended range, speed of transfer and mesh networking capabilities has played a large part in the success of the IoT. But…this is only just the beginning for Bluetooth, particularly its Low Energy (BLE) variant. Adding Radio Direction Finding (RDF) and Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) technologies quadrupled Bluetooth’s ability to locate devices by tracing the direction and strength of signals. This makes for the adoption of advanced Bluetooth applications into the wide array of IoT devices.
The latest, high end BLE devices have dual core processors, floating point processing, a much expanded I/O capability, and run real time operating systems. The BLE standard itself has evolved, offering higher data rates, longer range, better locating capabilities and low power audio.
Mesh networking technology is also providing exciting innovation that stirs IoT applications to get more affectionate with Bluetooth. Mesh networking extends the possibilities of IoT Bluetooth devices to connect a whole building or a wide area. The guaranteed interoperability and scalability of Bluetooth mesh network can turn workspaces and factories smarter.
Redefining the Holy Grail of Wireless
To many, these new capabilities represent a major step toward what many wireless engineers consider a Holy Grail for wireless devices - Real-Time Location Services (RTLS), which unlocks exciting use cases that have been predicted for the future of wireless. Yet finding the skills and expertise to make that happen is becoming more and more difficult. Tried and tested companies like CIS Electronics Engineering have over 20 years’ experience in finding specific embedded engineering expertise for the next Bluetooth technologies.