In recent years, wireless communication technology has brought unprecedented development to the field of IoT. As more devices connect to the Internet and each other, people can transfer data from one place to another without any physical connection. LoRaWAN technology and BLE technology are both wireless communication technologies, but there are some differences between the two. For example, the former is widely used to transmit data over long distances, while BLE is often used to connect devices over short distances. In this article, we will compare LoRaWAN beacons and Bluetooth beacons, and help you understand which one is more suitable for your use cases.
What is a LoRaWAN Beacon?
A wireless communication protocol called LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) was created for low-power, long-distance communication between IoT devices. LoRaWAN beacons use a low-frequency, long-range transmission method to communicate with gateways, which then send the data to the cloud for analysis. This technology is suitable for applications that require long-range communication, such as tracking assets in a large warehouse or monitoring soil moisture levels on a farm.
What is a Bluetooth Beacon?
Bluetooth, on the other hand, is a short-range wireless communication protocol commonly used for personal area networks (PANs). Bluetooth beacons use high-frequency, short-range transmissions to communicate with nearby devices. This technology is suitable for applications that require short-range communication, such as tracking in a retail store or guiding visitors in a museum.
Applications of LoRaWAN Beacons and Bluetooth Beacons
Asset Tracking: LoRaWAN beacons can be used to track assets such as vehicles, containers, and equipment. When LoRaWAN beacons are installed on assets, their location can be monitored remotely in real-time, even in areas with limited cellular coverage.
Smart farms: Real-time monitoring of crop soil moisture through Lora beacons and optimization of irrigation can reduce water consumption by more than 30%.
Dementia patients: Wearable beacons can monitor falls and track medications.
Efficient workspaces: LoRaWAN beacons can monitor whether an office room is occupied as well as room temperature and energy use, as well as check parking availability.
Smart waste bins: The capacity of the bin is sent to the staff through beacon alerts, and the pickup time is optimized by monitoring the capacity of the bin at each time period.
Proximity marketing: BLE beacons recommend relevant discounts and new products based on a customer’s purchase history, helping marketers retain loyal customers and offer specific services based on the preferences chosen by new customers.
Indoor navigation: BLE beacons can use smartphone signals to locate indoors and take customers to their destinations.
Comparison Between LoRaWAN Beacons and Bluetooth Beacons
To help customers make an informed decision about which beacon is right for their application, we have created a comparison table that covers 12 different aspects:
BLE beacons are typically used for short-range communication within a range of about 10–100 meters. In contrast, the LoRaWAN beacon is ideal for long-distance communication, with a range of up to 15 kilometers in urban environments and up to 40 kilometers in rural environments. This makes LoRaWAN well-suited for applications that require long-range connectivity, such as remote monitoring of agricultural fields or oil and gas pipelines.
Another difference is the type of data that can be transmitted using LoRaWAN. BLE beacons are designed for high-speed data transmission, which is useful for applications that require a lot of data to be transmitted quickly, such as streaming video. In contrast, LoRaWAN beacons are designed for low-speed data transmission, which is more suitable for applications that require only small amounts of data to be transmitted, such as sensor readings.
In addition to their data rate and range, there is another reason why the LoRaWAN beacon is ideal for long-range communication. LoRaWAN beacons are particularly anti-jamming because they are not easily disturbed by obstacles and their signal is not interrupted by occlusion. So it can track the location of objects or people and whether the signal is blocked by solid matter or not. On the contrary, the signal of BLE beacons is easily interrupted by obstacles.
Bluetooth beacons have a latency of 100-300 ms, while LoRaWAN Bluetooth beacon has a latency of several seconds. A BLE beacon is more suitable for applications that require low-latency communication.
LoRaWAN is highly scalable, making it a good idea for use cases that need a lot of devices. Bluetooth is less scalable, making it better suited for smaller-scale applications.
LoRaWAN uses a star topology, while Bluetooth uses a mesh topology. This means that LoRaWAN is better suited for applications that require a centralized network, while Bluetooth is better suited for applications that require a decentralized network.
LoRaWAN beacons have not only end-to-end AES128 encryption but also integrity protection, mutual authentication, and confidentiality. Your messages are safe while using LoRa to share or receive information. As for BLE beacons, beacon hacking is one of the most common risks. Hackers occasionally target beacons with weak security in public areas, despite the fact that the majority of beacon manufacturers now have measures in place to prevent this from happening. It’s crucial to realize that BLE beacons purchased from trustworthy and reliable providers, like MOKOSmart, are 100 percent secure.
Future Developments in LoRaWAN and Bluetooth Beacon Technology
Emerging trends and innovations
Because more LoRaWAN end nodes are being used for tracking and monitoring purposes, the hardware segment of the LoRaWAN market is anticipated to reach USD 30 billion by 2032. LoRaWAN trackers use GPS-powered sensors to transmit geolocation data about the assets they are attached to. They help businesses manage high-value equipment and also improve security during asset transportation. The trackers are additionally protected by a sealed, shock-resistant case, making them durable enough to withstand impacts from large machinery during transport and continue to function.
Expect to see continued improvements in Bluetooth’s range, functionality, and power consumption, especially in more common examples of Bluetooth devices.
A BLE audio version that was published in 2020 enables the development of Bluetooth-enabled headphones with a lower battery or a leaner profile. In addition to the energy consumption improvements, the upgrade adds the ability to broadcast audio to multiple devices.
A new configuration option in Bluetooth 5 enables the device owner to reduce the packet size in exchange for a greater transmission range without sacrificing functionality.
Potential for hybrid solutions
BLE and LoRaWAN beacons complement each other’s strengths, making them ideal for a variety of applications.
Until recently, BLE usage was limited to low throughput endpoints like beacons and wearables. However, the latest Bluetooth 5.0 can send large data files or stream audio without quickly draining your device’s battery. On the other side, LoRaWAN beacons meet the demand for widely used, low-cost sensors that must transmit little data packets over a great distance. BLE and LoRa are crucial requirements that make up a complete wireless solution for low-power IoT applications. Low-power long-range connectivity is addressed by LoRa, whereas low-power short-range connectivity is addressed by BLE.
In recent years, there have been many studies on the development of IoT, which have led to its improvement. The evolution of LoRaWAN and BLE beacons is a powerful solution to resolve the issues and obstacles associated with the IoT due to the rapid increase of IoT devices and applications such as asset tracking, e-learning, smart cities, healthcare, and environmental protection.
However, LoRaWAN beacons and BLE beacons have distinct differences in terms of range, data rate, interference resistance, and latency. While Bluetooth beacons are better suited for indoor location-based services that demand low power consumption, LoRaWAN beacons are ideal for transmitting data over long distances. Which beacon type is best for you will depend on the particular needs of your use case when deciding between the two.
Mokosmart is a reliable company that specializes in developing and manufacturing both BLE and LoRaWAN beacons. We work closely with our clients to help them design the ideal beacon by understanding their unique goals. With the help of a trusted provider, you can select the right beacon technology for your needs and enjoy the benefits of IoT connectivity.
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