Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

The speculation over the IoT phenomenon has been gaining grounds in recent years, and there seem to be no signs of it slowing down anytime soon. Despite all the headlines and hype, it is fair to say most people are still in the dark as to what the impact of this soon to be mainstream technological sensation will be. In all honesty, IoT has been around for some time now. However, it will soon become a household marvel. Let’s examine what IoT is, and the role Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) plays in its development.

What is Bluetooth Low Energy?

For a novice, it is simple to see BLE as a type of Bluetooth that uses less power, consumption or energy.  It is an eco-friendly form of Bluetooth that has been developed specifically to facilitate the “Internet of Things”. I guess by now almost every soul on the planet is familiar with what Bluetooth is, right? Anyways, to shed more light; think of using a wireless headset to listen to your favorite song on your smartphone. Yes, that is an application of Bluetooth.

However, a new wave of technological advancement is on the horizon known as the Internet of Things or for short (IoT). This next wave of mainstream tech will enable the connectivity of your everyday household devices (like the washing machine, cooker, toaster, kettles, etc.)  to one another and to the internet. These devices will be able to communicate with you directly or be controlled by a smart device such as your smartphone or tablet. Yes, that’s right! You won’t need to border about turning “on” or “off” the washing machine or heating the kettle manually as these would be possible just by the touch of a button on your smartphone. How cool is that?

So, what is the Internet of Things?

In short, the Internet of Things is the connection of a device to other devices (usually through some form of wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth low energy) and to the Internet to help them communicate and share data across wireless networks. Therefore, IoT is a humongous connection of “things” which also includes people, animals and basically whatever you choose to connect. Bluetooth chips can be used to make animals part of the internet of things, as some people do with their pets already.  So, the connection could be between people-to-things, people-to-people, people-to-animals, things-to-things, things-to-animals, etc… you get the point, the possibility is endless!

The “Internet of Things” is not limited to within the house; it extends to the workplace, cars and even entire cities. It is extraordinarily huge. The scale at which it will change the way we live and work is yet to be determined.  For example, in cities think about the connection of traffic lights and security cameras to share data with security offices. Through IoT, our devices will be able to communicate to us by voice or text just like our smartphones and computing devices do today (e.g. Cortana, Siri, Google Now). Our energy meters will tell us when to turn them off; our cars will tell us to stop driving if they’re tired of being driven without being serviced properly. Okay, might be a bit exaggerated! But who knows? The limit to your imagination is your only limitation with the Internet of Things.

But what is the role of BLE in IoT?

BLE’s energy efficiency has made it a preferred and one of the most compatible options for IoT. BLE, for example, is more energy efficient than ZigBee, Bluetooth classic and Wi-Fi. What this means is that BLE can better support the connectivity of IoT devices for longer periods than the above (especially when the devices are battery-powered). Also, BLE’s low data rate makes it extremely suitable for utilization in cases where only state data has to be exchanged such as sensors.

These are just some pointers of the role BLE plays in the next wave of mainstream tech which is guaranteed to transform the way we live, work, play, exercise, travel, etc.

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