Before the onset of the smartphone era, Bluetooth used to be the de facto connectivity standard in transferring data from one phone to another; usually, audio, videos and picture files. Now in its latest avatar, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), or Bluetooth Smart, the technology is making a full-fledged return because of its ease of use in connecting devices for the Internet-of-Things It is a light weighted subset of classic Bluetooth that supports Bluetooth 4.0 Core specification. As per ABI Research forecasts, there will be a flood of new Bluetooth-enabled devices with a total shipment of 5 billion such devices, and BLE alone constituting 27% of all shipments.
Low power wireless personal area network technologies are intended to replace the cables being used in devices connection, from mobile phones and headsets to heart monitors and in medical device gadgets. The retail sector will particularly be a keen adopter of BLE technology, especially “beacons” which are the transmitters that relay the device’s location to nearby portable gadgets. The market for this is expected to grow to 60 million Beacon devices by 2019. Apart from retail, according to ABI Research, the market is huge for connected homes and access devices.
BLE can bring several advantages to the retail sector, including faster communication, safety, security with added benefits of low power consumption.
BLE devices send out continuous radio signals to nearby smart devices (Android/IOS) within a specified range. Smart devices/Smartphones which are in that range can listen and be triggered. The smart device then sends a UUID (Universally Unique Identifier) number to the cloud server. The server checks what action is assigned to that ID number & responds quickly. The signal tells the smart device “Here I am” by giving its ID number. Mobile operating systems like iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, Windows 8 and Windows 10 are compatible with BLE.
For retail industry players, the biggest challenge is to plan on how to maximize margins in a highly competitive market. To do that, everyone has to anticipate what the market changes are and quickly brace themselves to attract customers in providing a seamless, consistent shopping experience. Data based on product features, such as, visible attributes (colors, sizes), pricing information, availability of stock, etc. can be better consumerized by BLE technology. Almost all customers nowadays that enter a store are carrying some kind of smart device on them. If BLE is used, then customers can be alerted with personalized coupons and deals as soon as they enter a store.
Device monitoring and Real time positioning Services: BLE devices have the capacity for location intelligence and real-time tracking of whether an asset in within the premises, which can be tracked using a smartphone.
Proximity Marketing: BLE devices are helpful in driving promotion for traditional off line retailers to better engage with customers, convert prospe customer closer to the store, even before they care to enter the premises. Receiving personalized and relevant information and a customized experience goes a long way in converting sales.
It’s an undeniable reality for a retailer that Bluetooth Low Energy can be a positive way to cts, and send special offer advertisements based on in-store behavior.
Need-based Alerts and Notification: BLE can help detect the presence of theengage with customers in their store and to know how they interact in their shopping journey.
eInfochips has extensive experience in designing Smart IoT solutions for Retail Industries.
Anticipated Trends and Persistent Challenges in 2024
As we approach the year 2024, it becomes imperative to scrutinize the dynamic landscape of BLE, focusing on emerging trends and enduring challenges.
BLE is seamlessly aligning itself with 5G technology. In the year 2024, this integration is expected to gain momentum, enabling BLE devices to leverage the high-speed, low-latency benefits inherent to 5G networks.
BLE’s capacity to furnish precise indoor and outdoor location data is gaining significant traction. The year 2024 promises an uptick in location-based services, featuring asset tracking, indoor navigation, and proximity marketing, all powered by BLE technology.
The quest for prolonged battery life in BLE devices remains unabated. Advancements in ultra-low-power design will continue to be a hallmark in 2024, ensuring BLE devices function efficiently for extended periods with minimal power consumption, thereby catering to a myriad of IoT applications.
With the increasing emphasis on security in the realm of IoT and connected devices, BLE is evolving to provide enhanced security features. Expect refinements in BLE’s security protocols and encryption techniques in 2024.
BLE mesh networking is gaining prominence for orchestrating expansive networks of interconnected devices. The year 2024 is likely to witness further evolution in BLE mesh technology, facilitating more intricate and extensive IoT deployments.
Despite BLE’s widespread adoption, interoperability issues persist, particularly when integrating with other wireless protocols or legacy systems. Mitigating these interoperability challenges will take precedence in 2024.
The utilization of BLE for location-based services and data transmission underscores prevailing privacy concerns. Striking a delicate balance between data collection for service improvement and user privacy protection will continue to pose a substantial challenge.
As the quantity of BLE devices burgeons, scalability issues might surface. Effectively managing large-scale BLE deployments, particularly in industrial IoT settings, remains a challenge that necessitates attention.
The increasing utilization of the 2.4 GHz band by various wireless devices, including BLE, could lead to spectrum congestion. In 2024, efforts to alleviate interference and optimize spectrum usage will assume greater significance.
Maintaining vigilance and proactively addressing potential security vulnerabilities will be imperative for BLE developers and users alike.
In summation, Bluetooth Low Energy stands poised for further expansion and innovation in 2024, with trends centered around integration, location-based services, power efficiency, and security enhancements. Nonetheless, challenges pertaining to interoperability, privacy, scalability, spectrum congestion, and security must be thoughtfully addressed to safeguard the continued success and security of BLE technology in an increasingly interconnected world.