Primer on Bluetooth Low Energy

bluetooth-low-energy

We’re sure that, like us, you’ve heard at least something about Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Blutooth 4.0 is another name for BLE and it’s already available in some smartphones; starting with the iPhone 4S, BlackBerry 10, and with Android support added in 4.3 — Jelly Bean. Here’s your chance to get acquainted which what the specification brings to the table. The source material (which we’ll talk about below) provides a ton of background. But if you want a succinct overview check out [Gervasi’s] summary of Bluetooth Low Energy.

We won’t republish the technical details here as both articles do a great job of covering those. Here’s what you should take away from BLE: It’s meant for use with devices running off of a tiny power source. The one outlined in both articles is a coin-cell. But we prefer to think of the future that is energy harvesting. Peak current is limited to 15 mA. This does limit the throughput, but think sensors, not Bluetooth headsets. You just don’t need to push all that much data from these devices. A cleverly designed energy harvesting circuit should be able to implement BLE devices with no battery whatsoever.

We did mention a deeper exploration of the standard. The image above comes from this BLE Primer for Developers. Add it to your weekend reading.

[via Reddit]

13 thoughts on “Primer on Bluetooth Low Energy

  1. >Android support coming in 4.3 — Key Lime Pie

    Android 4.3 is actually Jelly Bean. Besides, this version is already released and available for Nexus and cyanogenmod-supported devices.

  2. Most frustrating thing about BLE is the god-awful marketing terminology they came up with for it. “Bluetooth Smart” and “Bluetooth Smart Ready” are some of the most confusing anti-names ever. They’re gonna confuse users even more than users are ordinarily confused..

    The technology itself is pretty cool, I just hate the name so much.

  3. I co-authored the BLE Primer for Developers that is referenced in the article. Nice to see it get a mention :-) Worth pointing out that the article includes lots of practical information on how to develop apps that exploit BLE on the BlackBerry 10 OS as well as the theoretical background. BlackBerry 10 has excellent support for Bluetooth Low Energy (and NFC and…..). @mdwrim

  4. As background information: Bluethoot organization saw possibility that 6LoWPAN, Z-Wave, ZigBee etc. would eat their market domination and BLE is their answer to that.

  5. “A cleverly designed energy harvesting circuit should be able to implement BLE devices with no battery whatsoever.”

    So it’s using RFID style technology to convert other radio frequency energy to DC power to run a really low power Bluetooth transceiver?

    1. That’d be one way to do it. Alternately, you could hook some other energy-harvesting power source (solar cell, piezo, Peltier) directly to the device, so that it would start transmitting whenever the associated condition was present (sunlight, vibration, thermal gradient).

  6. The article on Element 14 references, “Bluetooth Low Energy: The Developer’s Handbook”. But there’s no link provided.

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