Do not be puzzled about designing a Bluetooth low-energy enabled product. This technology offers the perfect solution for various design challenges while helping developers link to the Internet of Things. Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) is also called Bluetooth 4.x and Bluetooth Smart. Where would you begin, if you are planning for a kind of product that can connect to a mobile device or computer via BLE with minimal power consumption? RF designs are extremely challenging, expensive, and time-consuming without intricate experience and knowledge. Apart from the knowledge, designing your BLE module project with a chip or discrete solution depends on time-consuming and expensive testing, certifications, and equipment.
However, you don’t need to throw away your idea just because of the challenges involved in the design process. All you need is to choose the right BLE module for your discrete design that should solve all such issues.
Choosing Bluetooth low-energy modules saves you time and money while allowing you to turn your BLE-enabled product idea into reality. Taking a timely decision about choosing the Bluetooth Smart technology can help you successfully implement your idea. Here are the top reasons why one should opt for Bluetooth low-energy modules in a product design.
BLE (Bluetooth Smart) modules can shorten the time for marketing a product. Designing a Bluetooth Smart enabled product from the beginning involves research, equipment, multiple testing, certification, and other related work.
Therefore, the development process may take years. You may be miles away from other tasks by the day you complete the initial prototype. At that time, there is a possibility that your product’s market may have been disappeared. With a perfect BLE module, you can easily reduce your marketing time by 6 months or even more.
Most modules of Bluetooth Smart come with are CE, IC, FCC, and other necessary certifications. Discrete Bluetooth low-energy solutions could take several months to get all essential product certifications. It means a lot of research and application.
Moreover, you will have to wait for certifications and even reapplying if the certification is not granted for some issues. Therefore, there is no point in consuming this much time for certifications when you already have pre-certified Bluetooth low-energy modules available on the market. You will also be avoiding any fees needed for certification alongside a few other costs.
Who would mind saving cash on RF testing, production testing, and RF engineering? Rather than spending so much money on engineers’ salaries, tuning testing gear, and antenna matching, you can get benefit from a production-tested and pre-certified solution.
Your campaign of fundraising would finish sooner. Therefore, you will quickly be emphasizing the production of the products. There is also no need to be worried about evaluating and procuring various RF components.
A perfect BLE module can fit easily into a design. There is no need to individually integrate components into the BLE design or functionality around components. When you use a module, it means you will not be wasting your money or time on the receiver or antenna placement. The pre-made RF part also ensures a straightforward container design.
Getting involved in connectivity details can be time-wasting when there are bigger goals ahead of you. You know your skills the best and what you are not good at. Using Bluetooth low-energy modules help in devoting energy to build and market what you are best at so that you can quickly get to the new tasks or projects.
As its name suggests, BLE (Bluetooth low-energy) utilizes less energy as compared to standard Bluetooth connectivity solutions. This technology is rising in popularity with time for wireless medical equipment, home automation, mobile payments, retail geo-fencing, and exercise sensors, etc.
The top brands like Apple are already using this technology on their latest iPhone models. Therefore, this technology will go through rapid revolutions because of its quickly increasing demand for various products.
Bluetooth low-energy can be greater than location-based smartphone technologies since it is more targeted. For instance, with Bluetooth low-energy, a shopping store can detect your location in the store to share relevant offers with you. Many stores are testing this new idea and it would probably introduce an innovation in the retail world.
At this moment, hands-free payments are not much popular. However, Bluetooth low-energy technology can change that. Companies like PayPal are introducing Beacon Bluetooth low-energy technology soon.
Therefore, PayPal customers would be able to pay and verify transactions through voice recognition. Customers will also get payment receipts via email that would be all hands-free. Bluetooth mobile transactions are, at the moment, in their early stages. Mobile payments would require enhanced security as compared to the prior Bluetooth applications.
We already have various smartphone apps that allow us to shut down the lights, lock doors, and adjust the thermostat. The BLE module technology would make it even easier. With BLE, it is possible to automatically adjust the thermostat as a person goes outside or comes in from the door, for instance.
Apart from the advantages discussed above, there are many cost advantages we can enjoy with Bluetooth low-energy modules. Let’s go through the key cost advantages that this technology offers:
When the production volumes are below 50000 units, these modules offer a cost-benefit as compared to discrete solutions. You will be able to keep the costs between $100000 - $200000, including development, RF certification, testing, and manufacturing costs.
At 50000 - 100000 volumes, either the chip or module solution can be rational from the total standpoint cost. However, if the volume is 100000+ units, you should go with the discrete design.
A quick design cycle will help you market your product quicker. As we already discussed, BLE modules allow us to develop products months before what we expect with discrete designs.
There is no need to hire RF engineers and the more focus will be on scripting communication text and programming APIs. These modules ensure a significant reduction in the cost of the process of development.
Since these modules are pre-certified, it eliminates the RF certification process cost and time. You can drop these modules into new designs in just a few weeks or even days. It results in quickly marketing the product to the customers.
The use of a BLE module protects against the obsolescence of the product when the product has lifecycles. Therefore, it will have more life than IC’s. The design of modules will utilize newer chips without replacing actual pins, when appropriate.
Moreover, a module doesn’t need a new firmware interface or peripheral to function. Therefore, it turns out to be another important cost-benefit to enjoy with Bluetooth low-energy modules.
Engineers would have ease of design and be better adaptive in designing and maintaining wireless Bluetooth connections. It includes automatic reconnections. Therefore, you will also be able to ensure connection improvements in your BLE-enabled product.
The latest 4.1 specification enables an IPv6 communication core design by introducing L2CAP dedicated channels. As a result, you will get benefit from enhanced data transfer.
Moreover, there are the latest enhancements in the 4.1 specifications for IPv6. Therefore, have the choices of enhanced dual-mode and BLE modules and chips.
Once you have made the decision that you are going for the Bluetooth low-energy module, it becomes essential to choose the most suitable module. All modules offer connectivity.
But, there are a few differences in power, configuration, and architecture - among a few other important factors – that you must consider. Luckily, we have so many choices available. Since there are many choices, it becomes critical to consider many factors as well. Here are the key factors to consider when you are looking for the right BLE module.
Cost is a critical concern for most applications. The total ownership cost linked with the choice of the module can outweigh the unit cost of the module as a significant factor.
The total cost includes extra development time, expensed, software and tool purchases, post-deployment maintenance, and certification expenses.
You must also ask the vendor about the nature and type of integration support, software and hardware development, regional support availability, external components requirement, and the experience of the vendor.
It is also important to know compliance with actual listing and certification and update the path to the new standards, like Bluetooth 5.
How much space the Bluetooth low-power module should occupy on the PCB board is important in a few applications. It can have a great impact on the PCB complexity and cost we require for the device. In a few applications, including wearable products, the height of the module is also a big concern.
Some Bluetooth low-energy modules come with design support to drop in the communication peripherals via messages transfer as a single function. Those modules are like “black boxes” linked with the host processor which handles various device operations. It simply executes the transfer commands and data of the host.
Other types of modules are known as “host-less modules”. These are standalone devices that work like both BLE peripherals and user-configurable program controllers. However, various modules can work in both architectures and may sometimes need extra development effort or software to be host-less.
Take a look at the following features of a BLE module:
Just like the Bluetooth Classic, Bluetooth low-energy also utilizes the GSFK modulation approach. The modulation index of the BLE is configurable from 0.45 to 0.55. It is higher than Bluetooth Classic. On a 2MHz channel, it enables the reduced BER that helps in ensuring better range.
Bluetooth low-energy technology utilizes the same AFH pattern as the Bluetooth Classic, while devices are in connection. It reduces interfaces from diverse technologies in an ISM 2.4GHz Band that is shared by various wireless devices that operate in this range.
BLE technology utilizes a 24-bit single CRC on every packet, permitting the data and header fields to identify the odd number, 4-bit, and 2-bit errors. Rather than 32- or 16-bit CRC, 24-bit CRC is suitable for the data payload of BLE. It enables optimization of data payloads and quick error checking.
Authentication and encryption of Bluetooth low-energy are based on the AES-128 system. This system is designed by the Government of the U.S. to protect data. Another vital feature of Bluetooth Smart is dual-mode proficiency.
Devices like phone accessories or sensors often utilize Bluetooth low-energy by themselves. However, the frequency of tablets and smartphones act like wireless hubs for communicating through Bluetooth Classic and BLE.
The core specification of the Bluetooth makes the dual-mode application possible. Dual-mode modules come in a combination of BLE and Classic communication stacks, permitting the shared antenna.
A BLE module could be a perfect choice for home automation, health, wearable, kiosk, toy, and other IoT-capable industries. In this article, we have discussed the most significant reasons why and how BLE technology can help you complete your BLE-enabled product’s design with perfection.
In these modules, you get the ability to bring your BLE-enabled product idea into reality much faster than using other methods like Bluetooth Classic. With BLE, you can address all challenges that we encounter in the discrete design process.
There are various kinds of Bluetooth low-energy modules available on the market. All you need is to choose the most suitable module according to your project type. You can identify the best available module for your project by following the selection guide in this article.
For further queries about Bluetooth low-energy modules and their applications, you can feel free to contact us, anytime.
Free A Quote