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Implementing Bluetooth Beacons (iBeacon) – nRF52 use case

By Mohammad Afaneh | |

Introduction As a continuation of our series on Bluetooth beacons (part 1 here and part 2 here), today we cover Apple’s iBeacon standard in a bit more detail. iBeacon is especially useful for deploying location-awareness applications and monitoring user behavior within an area. It was introduced in iOS 7 and utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to send out advertisements that get discovered and utilized by other BLE-capable devices (especially smartphones). It’s an application layer implementation on top of BLE, so it requires awareness on both sides: Implementing the iBeacon format on a BLE device (normally battery-operated)Implementing awareness of the iBeacon…

Understanding the “SweynTooth” BLE Vulnerabilities

By Mohammad Afaneh | |

About two weeks ago (February 11, 2020), a group of Singaporean researchers released a group of vulnerabilities discovered in quite a few BLE vendor SDKs. They named the group of vulnerabilities “SweynTooth“. Here’s their explanation: The insight behind the name SweynTooth arrives from Sweyn Forkbeard, the son of King Harald Bluetooth (after whom the Bluetooth Technology was originally named). Sweyn revolted against Harald Bluetooth and this forced King Harald to his exile. The exile lead to the death of King Harald shortly. We envision that if SweynTooth style vulnerabilities are not appropriately handled by BLE vendors, then the technology can…

An overview of Bluetooth Beacons – Part 2

By Mohammad Afaneh | |
Overview of Bluetooth Beacons Part 2

Bluetooth beacons are alive and well due to the low cost and widespread usage in commercial spaces like retail stores and logistics. The technology itself has been around for a while but gained widespread awareness when Apple released its iBeacon protocol in 2013. Since then, adoption and uses have increased as businesses and developers come up with creative ways to use the technology. In part 1 of this series, we went over the major differences between Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Despite having Bluetooth in their names, they are two very different things and are not compatible with…

An overview of Bluetooth Beacons – Part 1

By Mohammad Afaneh | |

For many of us, our first encounters with Bluetooth probably came in the form of wireless headsets and hands-free devices. However, a new breed of Bluetooth devices is emerging — they are lower in cost and they consume less power. From a non-technical and user perspective, the name Bluetooth appears to cover any form of Bluetooth connectivity and requires some sort of manual activation via your phone. In reality, there are two types of Bluetooth “radios” — Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Despite the name, Bluetooth Classic and BLE are not compatible with one another. This is because…

Implementing Over-the-Air Device Firmware Update for nRF52 – Part 3

By Mohammad Afaneh | |

Introduction In the previous post, Implementing Over-the-Air Device Firmware Update for nRF52 – Part 2, we introduced the OTA DFU process on the nRF52. In this post, we’ll go over testing the process using one of the DFU examples included in the nRF5 SDK, the “BLE Secure DFU Bootloader” example.. The hardware requirements for running the BLE Secure DFU Bootloader example are: A development PC (Windows, Linux, or macOS) – for building the bootloader and application, and generating cryptographic keys. An nRF52832 or nRF52840 development kit – used as the DFU target (Note: In all the steps below, we’ll be using an nRF52840…

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