RFID vs BLE: What to choose for asset tracking?

The future plans for beacon technology integration is trailing in popularity behind online basket comparison (42%), in-store Wi-Fi (54.3%), scan-and-go (59.3%) in-store bookmarking (62.8%). – Statista.

 

If you are into asset tracking technology, you will narrow your preferences into two major technologies – Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and radio-frequency identification (RFID). BLE solutions, however, have evolved over the years to be a precision inducing solution for asset tracking.

RFID solution comprises of tags, readers and software. The RFID tags are used to locate assets while the readers is a device used to gather information from an RFID tag, which is used to track individual objects. And a software is meant to compile the data from the reader and share it with the user. BLE solution used beacons and a mobile app or a software. Beacons are used to locate the asset and send the signal to the server. A mobile app or a software then interprets the signal to the user.

Current asset tracking methods and tools

Passive RFID:

These tags only work at very close range. While they do broadcast their location information, it has a very short range. Therefore, a scanner must be brought close to the tag in order to register and record presence. Hence, it isn’t ideal for asset tracking.

Bluetooth:

It doesn’t require interactions or active scanning. It has a capability to deliver information on real time. Significantly, BLE solution is capable of serving several use cases simultaneously.

What makes BLE solution an ideal technology for asset tracking over RFID?

Precise location identification

With beacons you can get to 5m accuracy both indoor and outdoor (depending on the environment). The typical accuracy of RFID is very low compared to beacons.

Cost-effectiveness

Beacons and RFID devices cost almost the same. However, BLE solution for asset tracking needs no other expensive readers. By installing a mobile app on the phones of the factory staff, you turn them into readers and save the amount that you’d normally need to spend if you go with active RFID.

Automatic scan and position update

Unlike passive RFID and barcodes, you don’t require to manually scan a tag to update an asset’s location. The mobile devices identify a beacon in range automatically via an app when the users get in the proximity of the beacons attached to the assets.

Use cases of BLE solution for asset tracking in various industries

Manufacturing

 

Essential BLE use cases in manufacturing industry include tracking of the logistics, employee and equipment.

BLE solutions help with intralogistics and tracking assets that haven’t yet reached the assembly line. BLE solutions help prevent the missing of any assets or equipment with precision tracking. Asset theft or misplacement can be a huge setback for manufacturing industry which can be solved by implementing BLE solution. The users can receive an alert if the asset is moved beyond the rage. Hence, active tracking from beginning to end is used to erase a substantial amount of inefficiency.

Logistics

 

BLE solution can benefit the logistics and transport industry by increasing effective storage, powering data analytics, and decreasing shipping mistakes.

BLE solution enables the users to track assets with ease and reliability which ultimately enhances the increased flexibility. The shipments or assets to be delivered can be easily found and optimized as more data like location is collected in real-time.

Healthcare

 

BLE solutions for healthcare improves the following operations:

  1. Effective tracking of medical devices
  2. patient tracking
  3. Automated medical record access
  4. Handling staff allocation

Business Services

The BLE solutions can be used in offices for the following purposes:

  1. Employee tracking
  2. Tracking office assets such as laptops and storage devices
  3. Automated login and logout time of employees

BLE solutions for office purpose are more affordable, practical, and scalable.

Bluetooth 5: the future of asset tracking

 

Below are the Bluetooth 5.0 enhancement:

 

  1. 4 times the range
  2. 800% more broadcast messaging capacity
  3. 2 times the speed

With the latest Bluetooth 5.0, BLE solutions have become more reliable for asset tracking. At LetsNurture, we believe that beacons are a step towards a future where assets will track themselves and tell you where they are just like an individual.

With our unique asset tracking solution, we are adhering the technological advancements by implementing BLE solutions. If you have any further query or would like to discuss this further, we would be glad to have a discussion with you. Please write to us at info@letsnurture.com.

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.