An overview of Bluetooth with Low Energy Functionality

 

 

Silicon Labs - Bluetooth low energy apps

 

Traditional Bluetooth is optimized for sending a steady stream of high quality data in a power-efficient way. Bluetooth low energy technology allows for short bursts of long-range radio connections, making it ideal for applications that depend on long battery life and don’t need high throughput streaming data. This overview focuses on this low energy aspect, but also calls out some of the contrasts with traditional Bluetooth technology.

Bluetooth technology is a core component of the IoT. Bluetooth was designed to offer a wireless alternative to cable connections by exchanging data using radio transmissions. One of the most popular applications for Bluetooth has been wireless audio. This uses a version of Bluetooth called BR/EDR (Bit Rate/Enhanced Data Rate) that is optimized for sending a steady stream of high quality data in a power-efficient way.

Bluetooth version 4.0 introduced Bluetooth with low energy functionality, sometimes referred to as Bluetooth Smart, which gave developers the ability to create sensors that can run on coin-cell batteries for months and even years at a time. Some of these sensors are so efficient that the kinetic energy from just flipping a switch can provide operating power. Bluetooth low-energy technology is inherently different from BR/EDR. BR/EDR establishes a relatively short-range, continuous wireless connection, which makes it ideal for uses such as streaming audio from a smartphone to a headset. Bluetooth low-energy technology allows for short bursts of long-range radio connections, making it ideal for IoT applications that depend on long battery life. Furthermore, Bluetooth low-energy is built on an entirely new development framework using GATT (Generic Attributes). GATT profiles describes a use case, roles, and general behaviors based on the GATT functionality. Theses profiles allow developers to quickly and easily develop applications to connect devices directly to applications running on smartphones, PCs, or tablets.