Best known for its innovation in audio streaming and wearable devices, Bluetooth technology is now also the standard for creating proximity solutions used across a wide range of location services — including point of interest information, item finding, real-time locating systems (RTLS) for asset tracking, and indoor positioning systems (IPS) for wayfinding. Though the onset of COVID-19 lockdowns led to a reduction in Bluetooth Location Services deployments (the 2021 Bluetooth Market Update reports a 25 percent decrease in implementations compared to previous forecasts), there has been continued interest in asset tracking and indoor positioning use cases, analysts expect Bluetooth Location Services growth to rebound by the end of 2021. As per ABI Research, Bluetooth Location Services grew to rebound by the end of 2021 and achieve a 32 percent CAGR through 2025.
Bluetooth Technology as a Positioning Radio
Powering rapid growth in RTLS solution shipments, Bluetooth technology helps track assets and people, whether locating tools and personnel in a warehouse or medical devices and patients in a hospital. Bluetooth IPSs have also quickly become the standard for indoor navigation solutions, helping visitors find their way through complex facilities. 79 percent of all Bluetooth Location Services implementations include indoor navigation.
Tags are also an important part of location services solutions, enabling commercial and industrial applications to track materials, personnel, and fleets of vehicles. The 2021 Bluetooth Market Update states that Bluetooth tracking tags account for the vast majority of all annual location services device shipments with nearly 40 percent of Bluetooth tags in 2021 supporting manufacturing and logistics. As more companies around the world turn to Bluetooth technology to enable tags and other asset tracking solutions, analysts predict Bluetooth asset tracking will soon be the leading use case for location services.
Heightened awareness of Bluetooth Location Services and the resumption of solution implementations will continue to support an increase in market expansion. Thanks to new features that support higher accuracy, such as Bluetooth Direction Finding, significant growth in Bluetooth IPS solutions are expected over the next five years.
Bluetooth is Making the Smartphone a Key
After first becoming widely accepted as a digital wallet for mobile payments, the smartphone continues to expand its role in everyday life. Having achieved 100 percent penetration in smartphones, it is no surprise that Bluetooth® technology is turning the smartphone into a convenient and secure digital key, unlocking doors and spaces as you approach your car, home, office building, and more.
“With Bluetooth technology, digital keys enable passive entry and start for vehicles,” said Ram Vedantham, business line manager for 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity at Texas Instruments. “In addition, this technology enables access control in homes, buildings, and warehouses, which will grant the ability to manage privileges using secure digital keys for personnel needing access to a specified space.”
According to Youngji Kim, Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) market research program manager, geofencing is another prime example of using Bluetooth technology to support digital key and access control solutions. “Industrial complexes can use the phone as a way of identifying individuals to restrict access to hazardous areas,” said Kim.
Industrial facilities, such as warehouses, factory floors, and chemical plants, that need to prohibit employees without proper training from accessing hazardous areas can harvest tremendous benefits from access control solutions. With the added value of location-based services, such as personnel tracking, alerts can be sent to personnel and facility managers should an employee or visitor wander close to or enter a hazardous area, enhancing safety for all. And, should an emergency happen, first responders can locate and get to individuals quicker if they know their exact position and status in a facility.
Click here to read the 2021 Bluetooth Market Update.
Click here to learn more about the RTLS system.