A Layman’s Guide to BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)

Bluetooth low energy or BLE is a wireless personal PAN ( Personal area network) technology that is designed and marketed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. It is used across diverse sectors like security, fitness, healthcare, etc. BLE, unlike its earlier counterpart provides a far better reduced power consumption and cost while it maintains a similar range of communication.

Operations of Bluetooth Low Energy

The mobile operating systems like iOs, Windows phone, Android and Blackberry -all support the BLE. The Bluetooth 4.0 allows the devices to implement either or both of the LE and the earlier systems. The devices that implement both of the system is Bluetooth 4.0 dual mode.

How BLE Works Using GATT

The BLE uses the 2.4 GHz radio frequency using a simple modulation system compared to its earlier version. As of now, all current low energy application profiles supports GATT or generic attribute profile. GATT is applicable for sending and receiving short data called as attributes based on a low energy link. The Bluetooth 4.0 has a low power consumption. Working with Android API for service queries and other reading characteristics, it allows the android apps to transmit with BLE devices with low power consumption as noted above. Some of the examples are fitness devices, heart rate monitors and sensors, etc.

Use of BLE across various sectors

The BLE devices are applicable to health care sectors, sports sector, etc. It simultaneously gives notifications. The phone alert status profile and alert feature can allow a user’s device to receive alerts like incoming calls from another device. While, the time feature allows current time information on a user’s device to set from a server device like a wrist watch and a smart phone’s network time.

There are 2 major roles and responsibilities when an Android device starts interacting with a BLE.

1. Central vs Peripheral- The device in the main role scans and looks for advertisements, while the peripheral device makes one.

2. GATT server vs GATT client-These connections establish the fact on how 2 devices communicate with each other and establish a connection.

Features of BLE wireless technology

The BLE wireless technology features are: Low cost, increase in range, multi vendor compatible, very low power consumption and large durability. The current specification of Bluetooth uses a service architecture based on GATT where all communication in low energy happens. This GATT feature uses the protocol to read, discover and write indications.. The new Bluetooth 4.0 fits well with new class of gadgets like medical devices, fitness tools and even home lighting tools.

Why Retailers Prefer BLE?

There are many reasons as to why BLE is preferable in the coming period. First of all, BLE is getting popular as it uses less energy. It is used for home, medical wireless device, retail stores and mobile payments. Speaking of retail stores, it is predicted that soon retailers will be the first professionals to adopt the BLE. This is further done integration with iBeacon. BLE could also boost mobile payments as well.

Apple has already started using the Bluetooth Low Energy with their product- iBeacons. To develop such application contact beacon developers.

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