Amazon has recently announced support for Bluetooth Low Energy in Amazon FreeRTOS. Amazon FreeRTOS is an IoT operating system for microcontrollers. Support for Bluetooth LE allows you to see Bluetooth devices and extract sensor data. Amazon’s implementation also allows you to subscribe to MQTT topics over Bluetooth Low Energy through an iOS or Android mobile device.
There’s an example how to Perform OTA Updates on Espressif ESP32 using Amazon FreeRTOS Bluetooth Low Energy. It shows how to connect Amazon FreeRTOS devices using Bluetooth Low Energy to AWS IoT Core via Android and iOS devices.
Bluetooth iBeacons are increasingly being used with fleet tracking. An example is Geotab who claim to be:
“World’s leading connected vehicle company, helping businesses leverage data to better manage and track their fleet”.
GeoTab has IoX extensions that extend the capabilities of their system.
One such extension is IOX-BT which monitors beacons attached to tools and equipment. This allows the system to be used to improve asset utilisation, reduce misplaced equipment, boost productivity, reduce operational costs and improve on-time delivery.
One of our clients Chime Software Limited, part of Wren Construction, is offering a Time and Attendance Tracking systems for the building construction industry. It’s a mobile and desktop solution allowing teams to easily collaborate.
The clock in and clock out uses iBeacons. It’s possible to view and authorise timesheets either from your desktop or mobile phone. It’s also possible to take textual and photographic notes for sharing across a team or project.
There’s a new insightful article at IHS Markit on Convergence of Wireless IoT Connectivity where it’s said that it’s unlikely that wireless IoT connectivity will be dominated by a one protocol or standard. While that might seem obvious, what’s less obvious is that, increasingly, multiple protocols are being used for IoT solutions.
The article observes:
“Almost all major chipset vendors such as Qualcomm, Cypress, Texas Instruments and Redpine Signals are offering wireless ICs with multi-protocol wireless connectivity allowing interoperability between wireless protocol and standards”
“It is most likely that these connectivity standards will increasingly work together to complement each other meeting the demands of IoT.”
Our SensorLoRa™ is one such solution, that combines the best of Bluetooth and LoRa.
The latter part of the article explains how, when there’s a problem in a smart factory, it can have large affects. The onus is on technology that can predict problems before they cause downtime. This leads to questions where the data processing should be the observations that:
“In the long-run, pushing everything to the cloud doesn’t work from a cost point of view.”
“Once you aggregate and compress the data, for example, to ‘max,’ ‘min,’ ‘outliers,’ ‘average’ and stuff like that, you lose the ability to run data science”
After our post on SensorLoRa™, a few people asked us specifically about LoRa™ and LoRaWAN® in the United Kingdom. First we should point out that SensorLoRa™ uses LoRa™ and not LoRaWAN®. LoRa™ is the patented digital wireless data communication technology protocol while LoRaWAN® is a higher level communication protocol that runs on top of LoRa™ that provides extra features.
Both LoRa™ and LoRaWAN® use the 868Mhz radio frequency that is license exempt in the UK. This doesn’t mean you can use this frequency as you like. There is set a set of rules defined by EU ETSI EN300.220 (pdf) the most pertinent of which is the duty cycle that defines for how long a transmitter can transmit.
LoRaWAN® imposes extra rules and a more onerous usage policy on top of than that required by the EU rules and also requires the use of a LoRaWAN® server. In the UK, LoRaWAN® is usually synonymous with The Things Network although you can, for a fee, run your own LoRaWAN® Things Network.
For SensorLoRa™ we don’t need the extra facilities provided by LoRaWAN®. We just need point to point communication. Our customers also usually don’t like shared servers. Hence, we only use LoRa™ rather than LoRaWAN® thus providing a private, separate, minimal network with no fees that’s only constrained by duty cycle for LoRa™. This doesn’t preclude us using LoRaWAN® for custom solutions, it’s that in most cases it isn’t needed.
While the article explains the use of Bluetooth mesh in the context of lighting, many of the concepts are equally as applicable in other applications of mesh. The article covers robustness, interference immunity, low energy, scalability, antennas and security.
Shiny is a Xamarin framework (iOS, Android and UWP) library for backgrounding and device hardware services that has recently added support for beacons. The library has recently been updated to support beacon ranging and monitoring.
SEAtS Software, a student attendance monitoring solution has a new article that takes a look at options for implementing student attendance monitoring. It compares using iBeacons, mag stripe card readers, GPS, WiFi and QR codes.
The article concludes that iBeacons are best because they are easy to install, provide the best accuracy, are affordable, easy to use and reduce administration time.