Mokosmart is a company that specializes in designing, developing, and manufacturing BLE beacons. Small devices called Bluetooth beacons provide signals to other nearby Bluetooth devices. They are widely used in wearable devices, marketing, and other fields. UWB beacons have also begun to be more and more attractive over the span of years. Like BLE beacons, UWB beacons use wireless technology and are widely utilized to transmit and receive data wirelessly via radio frequencies.
If you are interested in knowing which beacon can take your business to the next level, go through this article to find out more about the use cases of Bluetooth and UWB beacons and how they are different from each other.
What is a UWB beacon?
Small, battery-operated radio transmitters called UWB Beacons are fastened to objects or walls. Connecting to these beacons allows nearby devices with UWB capabilities and compatible apps to determine exact angles and distances. Innovative experiences like location-based services, wayfinding, touchless access control, and others are delivered by apps using spatial awareness data.
What is a Bluetooth beacon?
Bluetooth beacons are small, low-power devices that use BLE technology to transmit signals to nearby Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Applications of UWB beacons and Bluetooth beacons
Peer-to-peer services: Two UWB devices can share relative range and positioning information to locate one another thanks to AoA technology. This allows two moving people to pinpoint each other, parents not to lose track of their children, and ride-sharing customers to find their drivers in a sea of cars.
Touchless Access Control: In order to access a secure location using modern secure access technology, you normally need to enter a code on a keyboard, place your finger on a scanner, tap a badge or wristband on a card reader, and then open the door. With the UWB setting, you just get close to the door and it will open. Uwb-based solutions can track your approach, verify your security credentials, and get you through without stopping and clicking first.
Location-based Service: GPS beacons are more commonly used when we travel outdoors or go out, but in some cases, it is difficult for us to obtain or maintain GPS signals, especially when we are inside buildings. UWB beacon technology brings more accurate GPS-type positioning for indoor navigation. Even in busy multipath signal situations, UWB offers a high-precision location and can get around machines, walls, and other obstructions. As a result, UWB makes it simpler to move around expansive spaces like airports and retail centers and to locate your automobile in multi-story parking lots.
Targeted digital marketing efforts and client traffic data are also made possible by high-precision targeting. According to the guidelines for sharing data set by the mobile phone user, the advertising display can present relevant content combinations based on who has already approached the display. Retailers can offer customized offers, and entertainment venues can offer personalized recommendations during events.
Indoor navigation: Bluetooth beacons can provide indoor navigation information for places such as entertainment venues, art exhibitions, and railway stations. By transmitting signals to smartphones or other smart devices, Bluetooth beacons can provide location-based information or marketing campaigns.
Proximity marketing: The sales industry is taking full advantage of BLE beacons for close marketing to customers. With beacon technology, customers in malls or near storefronts can immediately receive notifications of offers or discounts on different products on their mobile phones. The beacons can also send users notifications of hot-selling products to their devices based on their interests and purchase history.
Asset tracking: Bluetooth beacons can be attached to assets such as laptops, tools, and other equipment to track their location within a building or other indoor environment.
Comparison between UWB beacons and Bluetooth beacons
UWB and BLE beacons are often used in scenarios that require higher accuracy or indoor navigation. However, there are still some differences in the use of these two beacons. To help customers make an informed decision about which beacon is right for their application, we show the main differences between Bluetooth and UWB in the table below:
One of the advantages of the UWB beacon compared to BLE is that it can transmit signals over a longer distance, which makes it suitable for tracking the location of objects or people over a larger area, such as large indoor Spaces such as warehouses or factories. BLE may be limited to tracking at a smaller range. This makes beacon UWB suitable for applications requiring communication over longer distances.
UWB beacons are generally more accurate than BLE beacons. The main reason for this is that the distance-based approach of UWB determines the location through its ToA monitoring. This makes UWB beacons ideal for use in applications where higher location accuracy is required, such as in hospitals or art museums, where precise location information is critical. BLE, in contrast, uses radio waves, which results in slower data transfer rates and decreased precision and accuracy.
In addition to its accuracy and range, there is another reason why the iBeacon UWB is suitable for indoor position tracking. Its signal can pass through obstacles, such as cubicles and ceilings. So it can track the location of objects or people and whether the signal is blocked by solid matter or not. BLE beacons cannot do the same thing as UWB because they have to transmit signals over line-of-sight.
Although the advantages of UWB beacons are many, some disadvantages should also be considered. One of them is its cost. UWB beacons are generally not as cheap compared to BLE, which makes it less easy for small businesses to apply them. In addition, the UWB beacon price and complexity of deployment are raised by UWB’s need for more complicated gear and infrastructure. BLE is also easier to implement and less costly than UWB, making it both suitable for large businesses and good for small businesses. In addition, BLE devices can be easily and quickly used through Bluetooth devices.
UWB beacons typically have a shorter battery life compared to Bluetooth beacons due to the higher power requirements of UWB technology. If you need a longer battery life, Bluetooth is the better option.
Bluetooth is a more widely used technology and is compatible with most smartphones and other devices. UWB technology is still relatively new and may not be compatible with all devices.
Finally, security is an important consideration when choosing between UWB and Bluetooth beacons.
There are almost no security issues with UWB beacons because its signal is generated by fast pulses (2ns) and supports scrambled timestamp sequences (STS), it is difficult to interfere with malicious attacks. As for BLE beacon, beacon hacking is one of the common risks. Although most beacon-makers now have safeguards in place to prevent this from happening, hackers can still sometimes target beacons with lax security in public areas. It’s crucial to realize that BLE beacons purchased from trustworthy and reliable providers, like MOKO SMART, are 100 percent secure.
Factors to consider when choosing between Bluetooth and UWB beacons
Bluetooth and UWB beacons are two popular technologies used for proximity-based tracking and location-based services. Here are some factors to consider: range, accuracy, battery life, cost, and interference resistance. When making your choice, consider the following important inquiries:
- What is the range required for your application?
- Does the accuracy need to be 10 cm? Or is one meter acceptable?
- Is battery life a concern?
- What are the requirements for the interference resistance of the beacon?
- What is your budget for the beacons?
These inquiries above will help you identify the kind of beacon that is most appropriate for your particular use cases.
The potential for hybrid solutions
Currently, there is a wide range of use cases for combining UWB beacons with BLE beacons, including smart home, automotive, consumer, and industrial sectors, all of which benefit from the combination of BLE and UWB to provide localized services.
Let’s look at an example. Assuming you are walking towards your car at this time, BLE can make an initial discovery at the approaching outer boundary, which can then coordinate with multiple anchor points placed around the body to activate UWB ranging. The corresponding UWB radio on your smartphone can be found via the newly activated UWB anchor. These UWB radios can provide extremely precise range measurements by coordinating ToF and AoA measurements.
A similar switch between BLE and UWB occurs with project trackers. The battery-powered tag can be attached to a key of the door, a Bluetooth headset, a puppy’s collar, or anything else you often can’t find. BLE beacons associate the tracker with your phone. When you want to find something you’ve lost, you can use an app on your phone to find it. BLE will look for the relevant tag, and as soon as it gets close, UWB ranging is activated and your app will navigate you to the precise location of the lost item.
In summary, UWB beacons have many advantages for indoor tracking, including high accuracy, wide range, and no interference from obstacles. But compared to BLE, UWB often costs more to implement and needs a more complicated infrastructure. Although BLE is more cost-effective and energy-efficient, its lower precision and range may not be ideal for all indoor location monitoring applications. As determined by the demands and restrictions of the application, UWB or BLE will be used.
Contact MOKOSmart to discuss your project and determine which beacon will work best for you. We are glad to help you identify the best solution.
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