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Bluetooth is unlocking a world of possibilities, helping to connect nearly every Thing in the Internet of Things. Most commonly thought of for audio streaming – connecting your headphones to your device or your phone to your car – Bluetooth is the unsung hero in a variety of industries.
Bluetooth device shipments are forecast to grow to 5.4 billion units in 2023, a 26 percent increase from 4 billion units in 2019. Seamless communication between devices is now an essential part of daily life and the number of connected devices is only going up.
Driving the growth is Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), which allows for short bursts of long-range radio connections, making it ideal for applications that depend on long battery life and don’t need high throughput streaming data. Designed for the IoT, Bluetooth LE enables a number of IoT use cases across medical, consumer, smart home, security, and more. I could go on forever, but instead, I’ll highlight Bluetooth applications that will erupt in 2023.
Highly Accurate Asset Tracking
Various industries are rapidly adopting Bluetooth-enabled real-time locating systems (RTLS) solutions to identify and track people or assets. In medical, hospitals are turning to RTLS to improve efficiencies and increase patient care quality. In industrial settings, organizations are utilizing RTLS to locate heavy machinery in complex settings and track power tool location and maintenance. With a predicted 516,000 implementations of Bluetooth RTLS asset tracking use cases by 2025, asset tracking is becoming more refined and accurate. Technologies such as Angle of Arrival and Angle of Departure will enable more accurate positioning, and High-Accuracy Distance Measurement (HADM) will narrow down accuracy to the centimeter.
Indoor Navigation and Wayfinding
Unfortunately, GPS does not work very well indoors, creating a real need for better indoor positioning technologies. This kind of locationing system can be used to track assets in a warehouse or people in a shopping mall, or people can use locationing for their own wayfinding. Malls, airports, markets, train stations, hospitals, you name it, smart devices can help consumers more easily navigate complex facilities.
Personal Item Finding
Keys, wallets, bags, cars, and even dog collars, consumers are buying Bluetooth personal tracking devices, like AirTags and Tile devices, to keep track of personal items. Can’t find an item? Turn to your smart device to locate it! In tandem with the affordability of these devices, apps like Find My, and HADM, consumers will no longer need to worry about losing items they treasure most.
At the heart of all these Bluetooth-enabled applications is the silicon supporting them, taking into account ultra-compact footprint, low-power consumption, long-range, and ultimate RF sensitivity to provide robust, reliable, and secure Bluetooth connectivity. Two Silicon Labs Series 2 Bluetooth Wireless SoCs to highlight:
- The BG22 is a versatile single-chip solution for Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth mesh, and direction finding with sub-meter accuracy. Designed to meet the unique requirements of high-volume, battery-powered Bluetooth products, BG22 features an ultra-low transmit and receive power and high-performance, low-power M33 core to deliver industry-leading efficiency that can extend coin cell battery beyond five years.
- The BG24 is ideal for IoT wireless connectivity using Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth mesh for smart home, lighting, and portable medical products. Key features include high performance 2.4 GHz RF, low current consumption, an AI/ML hardware accelerator and Secure Vault™, enabling device makers to create smart, robust, secure, and energy-efficient products. Applications include gateways/hubs, sensors, switches, door locks, smart plugs, luminaires, blood glucose meters, and pulse oximeters.
You can find these products on the Silicon Labs’ Arrow webpage, as well as our vast collection of development tools to help developers go to market faster. With Arrow’s engineering and design expertise and supply chain services, paired with Silicon Labs’ vast portfolio covering diverse wireless networks and ecosystems, customers are able to innovate better and get to market on time.
Bluetooth LE is taking IoT devices to a new level, driving IoT adoption across nearly every industry. While many of these devices are sight unseen, they are making a major impact in operational efficiencies and overall consumer experiences.