What Bluetooth 5 Means for Asset Tracking

What Bluetooth 5 Means for Asset Tracking

Bluetooth 5 was just released–here’s how it will impact the asset tracking market and future RTLS systems.

Bluetooth 5 was just released, and the world of technology is racing to make space for the new specifications. However, the most impactful result of this development will likely not be found in malls or consumer products like wearables.

The increased speed and range will no doubt be exciting for consumers, but these are not the solutions that will fully utilize the futuristic capabilities of the technology. Instead, it is Bluetooth-based asset tracking and Real-Time Location Systems that will be the big winners with Bluetooth 5.

Extending range into WiFi territory

This new Bluetooth features four times the reach of previous iterations, and that will have huge implications in the battle for top standard. WiFi has long been one of the most popular standards in the field in part due to its range. Will that begin to change?

What does this mean?
For large enterprises and warehouses, this could mean less hardware will be needed to extend coverage as well as less errors or assets moving out range–and that means a lot of savings for businesses.

With future infrastructures, where a company previously needed 10 Gateways, they might only need 5. That’s money saved on hardware, installation, cables, and deployment specialists. More importantly, in scenarios where beacons simply can’t be placed (for example, in the middle of a sports field) the longer range will make covering previously unreachable space easy. The lifetime maintenance of these infrastructures will also be simplified significantly. Maintenance includes not only expected things like battery changes, but also the unexpected–a beacon falls from the wall or has signal trouble. With the number of beacons in a fleet cut in half, taking care of these instances will be much more manageable for managers.

Essentially, while the infrastructure requirements and hassle greatly shrink, the cost remains the same. With Bluetooth already representing one of the most affordable standards for RTLS, this development could make it unstoppable.

800% more broadcast messaging capacity

Perhaps the most impressive statistic associated with the new standard is this increased broadcasting capacity. 800% is music to our ears–but what does that mean? It’s actually very simple:

Until now, beacons could only send 31 bytes of information at a time. Now, we can send 800% more rich, contextual data and metadata. For example, the new Kontakt.io Beacon Pro is equipped with sensors to send data on light and movement. These sensors do three major things: first, they let managers better understand their infrastructure through data analysis. Second, they enable triggers and alerts based on changes in the environment. Third, these triggers can help save energy by powering the beacon down when not in use.

What if there were even more sensors?
Previous advertising packets have always been of a certain size, and the Beacon Pro makes complete use of that size with all its sensor data. Now, there’s 800% more space to play with. Do you have assets that are very sensitive to moisture? A beacon equipped with humidity sensors could send you an alert the moment the environment surpasses acceptable level of moisture.

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Faster data means more than just speed

Bluetooth 5 is also twice as fast as its predecessor. This may not impact managers on a daily basis, but it will make updates to firmware much more manageable. Again, infrastructure maintenance can take a toll on managers, and faster firmware updates could mean less hassle for everyone involved.

When will we see Bluetooth 5?

The world has just been given access to the standard specifications–but it will be several months before we see them implemented in real technology. This release is the start of the race, and time will tell what the real impact of this new Bluetooth will be.

Once infrastructures are ready to leverage Bluetooth 5, businesses with any kind of asset tracking system will find themselves capable of much more than previous iterations. Businesses looking to leverage the IoT–now is the time to get excited.

Want to learn more about how Bluetooth can make your RTLS better? Our White Paper on RTLS offers our findings in depth including the role of big data and seven straight-forward steps to implementing a successful RTLS system.

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No time? No worries! We carefully organized our paper to help busy managers learn about new possibilities in their particular sector, fast. Download the white paper here. 

Hannah Augur - Photo
  • Hannah Augur
Content writer / tech journalist / geek based in Berlin. Hannah reports on all things tech and has a medium-sized tolerance for buzzwords.

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