IoT Readiness of BLE 5: Evaluation, Implementation and Improvements

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: The rapid enhancement of low-power short range wireless connectivity has been a driving factor of the pervasive adoption of Internet-of-Things (IoT). However, the lack of universal standard for such technologies causes compatibility issues and slows down innovation. The Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol has become the leading protocol that is most likely to be adopted as the standard over other compatible technologies and thus has to be studied thoroughly and all characteristics evaluated. Several major enhancements were introduced in the release of BLE 5 which makes the technology instantly more attractive in wider range of use cases than before. These enhancements bring additional complexity into the BLE architecture while allowing for more flexibility and configuration varieties to optimize each use case. This thesis attempts to evaluate the benefits of new features in BLE for a specific device developed by Tritech Technologies and the possibility of utilizing several features to improve wireless performance. Additionally, the technology architecture is deeply studied, challenges in implementation identified and operational characteristics measured. Results of the literature review discusses how the scalability of BLE has significantly improved, new features provide more flexibility making the technology more attractive for all IoT and finally recommends further work in order to have a single standard when operating low-powered wireless communication. Moreover, test results of power consumption, possible range and throughput are summarized showing that the new features can bring significant benefits to certain products but massive drawbacks might occur in form of power consumed if not carefully implemented. To point out some notable test results acquired in this project, double the energy utility was achieved by utilizing high speed physical layer (PHY) in high throughput operation that reached data transfer rate of 1.37 MB/s. Using long range PHY with coding scheme of eight symbols per bit reached roughly 1 km range in Line-of-Sight (LoS) and improvement from about half-house to nearly full-house coverage. Furthermore, a method of dynamically switching PHYs was implemented and concluded not suitable for such an application due to high added power consumption.

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