Learn About Bluetooth Low Energy Indoor Positioning: BLE Beacon

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a radio frequency (RF) technology used for wireless communications that can be used to detect and track the location of people, equipment, and assets. It is suitable for many indoor positioning use cases, including asset tracking, indoor navigation, proximity services wait.

BLE BEACON
BLE BEACON

BLE beacons are small, versatile, low-power Bluetooth transmitters that can be detected by wireless devices such as BLE-enabled smartphones. Beacons can be deployed in fixed locations, such as mounted on walls or structures or placed on mobile assets to provide location reference for indoor positioning applications. This supports the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) concept, allowing anyone to interact with BLE-enabled applications using a smartphone or other embedded device. BLE beacons can be used to find the location of a device and provide relevant content such as documents, videos, apps, etc., or provide guidance about the user’s time or location to keep the user informed and engaged.

Beacons periodically broadcast signals that can be detected by other BLE-enabled devices. Location data from the beacon is collected by the BLE device and forwarded to the IPS to determine the device’s location. This can support a variety of location-aware applications and even trigger specific actions.

Beacons come in all shapes and sizes. Many beacons have long-lasting built-in batteries that can run for years, or they can be powered via a connection such as USB. BLE technology is generally cheaper to produce than other RF technologies, allowing for small, low-cost, low-maintenance hardware options that can be customized for deployment based on your unique needs. Some beacons go beyond BLE and incorporate additional technology such as accelerometers or temperature sensors to enhance the results.

  • How does BLE beacon positioning work?

Beacon Configuration: Each BLE beacon is configured with a unique identifier (UUID), major and minor values, and a transmit power level. The UUID is used to distinguish a specific group of beacons (e.g., within a particular venue or store), while the major and minor values help identify individual beacons within that group. The transmit power level provides an estimate of the signal strength at a known distance.

Signal Broadcasting: BLE beacons periodically broadcast signals containing their unique identifier and other information. These signals are typically in the form of advertising packets sent at regular intervals.

Signal Reception: Devices (such as smartphones) equipped with Bluetooth capability continuously scan for BLE signals in their vicinity. When a device receives a BLE signal, it can extract the unique identifier, major and minor values, and signal strength from the signal.

Signal Strength Measurement: The received signal strength indicator (RSSI) is used to estimate the distance between the device and the beacon. The RSSI is a measure of the power level of the received signal and is influenced by factors such as distance, obstacles, and interference.

Trilateration or Triangulation: Once the RSSI values from multiple beacons are obtained, the device can use trilateration or triangulation techniques to estimate its position. Trilateration involves determining the device’s distance from at least three known reference points (beacons), while triangulation involves measuring the angles between the device and multiple reference points.

Location Calculation: Algorithms are then used to calculate the device’s position based on the received signal strength from multiple beacons. Common algorithms include weighted centroid, fingerprinting, and multilateration.

It’s important to note that BLE beacon positioning has limitations. The accuracy of the positioning depends on factors such as signal interference, signal attenuation due to obstacles, and variations in signal propagation. Additionally, the environment and the density and placement of beacons can impact the accuracy of the positioning system.

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