IoT Devices: What You Need to Know About Bluetooth

Understanding what IoT Devices are and how Bluetooth works with them can help you make informed decisions for your organization. Here is what you need to know about it.

Bluetooth devices connect across the city.

At some point in time – at least, since 1994 – you’ve probably used a device that connects via Bluetooth. It was invented by Ericsson to enable users of wireless headsets to connect to a wide range of devices. Today, you can connect to just about any electronic device via Bluetooth: speakers, headphones, car stereo systems, wearables, game controllers, printers, medical devices and more.

There are two kinds of Bluetooth devices available on the market. The first type, known as Classic, is what you find in headsets, wireless speakers and car stereo systems. The second type, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is used where power consumption needs to be monitored and where small packets of data are transferred infrequently. BLE is used in devices that are powered by batteries and located in sensors.

It should be noted that Classic and BLE are not compatible with each other. A classic device cannot communicate directly with BLE. Devices like smartphones will use what is called Dual Mode Bluetooth so that they can communicate with both Classic and BLE devices.

With IoT systems becoming more prominent, BLE and devices that use it have become the protocol.

How does it work?

Bluetooth and IoT go hand-in-hand, especially considering the rate IoT is growing and is being accepted on a global scale. It provides low power, low range, high bandwidth options to connect devices. It uses a parent-child model for connection. This means that one device, your smartphone for example, is the parent, and the wireless speaker you are connecting to, is the child. The parent devices pushes the information to the child and the child “listens” for the information from the parent. So, if you are listening to music on your phone and want to listen to it on the speaker instead, you connect the devices via Bluetooth.

Did you know that a Bluetooth parent can have up to seven children? Think about how many devices your computer is connected to via Bluetooth. Mouse, keyboard, speakers, printers, etc. This network of connected devices is known as a “piconet.” It is so versatile that your parent could be a child in another piconet and vice versa.

How Is Bluetooth Used with IoT Devices?

Because it was designed to work with portable equipment, devices and applications, it excels in connecting two devices that need minimal configuration. It also uses weak signals, so it continues to communicate with those devices at peak efficiency even when in a “noisy” environment. This makes it perfect for use with Industrial IoT devices that send short data packets in noisy environments.

In addition to industrial environments, it is also great for home environments. Most smart home devices do not need a high bandwidth to communicate with its parent. Plus, it has the ability to create a mesh network that is self-healing. This means if one device on the network runs out of power or it is disconnected from the network, all of the others can still communicate with one another. For example, you have your smart appliances, lights and HVAC system on a Bluetooth network. If your washing machine gets disconnected, everything else will continue functioning just like before.

What Is Bluetooth 5.0?

5.0 is the newest version of this technology that is focused on BLE and has new enhancements and features. It is 2x faster than previous versions, has 4x the range, and 8x the advertising capacity. It was specifically developed in 2016 to work with IoT devices and introduced the self-healing mesh network mentioned earlier. It is also backwards compatible to other versions.

Read more about 5.0 here.

Why You Should Consider Bluetooth As Your IoT Device

Bluetooth is a versatile way of communicating at a low bandwidth through “noisy” areas. When connected to IoT devices and used indoors, it is powerful tool, especially when used in asset management situations like a warehouse, where beacons can talk to one another. It is easy to setup and combined with other IoT devices, it provides you with a reliable, self-healing network.

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