Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons have changed the landscape of tracking devices and humans and form an integral part of Bloodhound’s workforce and asset management solutions. BLE beacons also known as active beacons are battery-powered tags that utilize Bluetooth technology to function as tracking systems. These tracking systems broadcast and read information in real-time and are typically used to track assets and/or field workers indoors. Beacons are more accurate when tracking devices in an indoor physical space whereas geofencing is more suitable for outdoor tracking. Geofencing relies on satellites (GPS) which is great for covering large areas but can be up to 5 meters less accurate than beacons.
Active beacons work on the same principle as lighthouses in the sense that at every constant interval they are sending out signals or messages. These signals are actually unique ID numbers that tell the observer device which beacon the device (or worker) is close to. Otherwise known as Proximity-based beaconing, the most common use of BLE beacons and utilizes Bluetooth readers that actively look for BLE beacons in their area.
Once a reader picks up a beacon it can send that tag’s ID and received signal strength to a central server. For example if a BLE active beacon is attached to a printer which requires maintenance, the technician will be required to read a strong enough signal from this specific beacon in order to activate the service plan on their mobile device. Bloodhound’s FILE13 mobile phone application can be utilised to preload specific service plans stipulating all parts that need to be checked. This combined with required photo evidence of services being completed ensures assets are serviced correctly.
Active beacons are relatively simple to install as all that is required to implement this tracking method at a specific location is a BLE transmitter and reader. Another advantage is that BLE beacons require low power and batteries can last up to 2-3 years. Furthermore, these tags can read a range up to 90 meters and regular devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops can be used for handheld reading. Active beacons are therefore ideal to monitor, track and enforce proper maintenance plans and can enable managers to better ensure mobile technicians and fieldworkers service assets correctly and frequently.
We hope you enjoyed this article. Please keep an eye out for our next article where we take a deeper look into NFC tags. If you would like to stay informed please subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss a post.