After listening various requests, ideas and suggestions from many business realities, who approached us as potential customers of #Beacon #Bluetooth to be used to support the social distancing required to fight the Sars-Cov2 pandemic, we’ve identified two distinct solutions, both valid and applicable depending on the scenarios that each business reality has within it.
CONTACT TRACING via APP + Bracelets / keychains
In this solution, BLE beacons help to maintain social distancing thanks to the possibility of communicating with the smartphone, in ways similar to the communication between Smartphone and Smartphone; that is, when at least one of the two people is equipped with a smartphone, thanks to acoustic, bright or vibrating alerts implemented, social spacing is encouraged.
SOCIAL DISTANCING and CONTACT TRACING via Beacons communication
The solution provides the ability of the beacons to interact with each other and, thanks to the immediate light signal (vibe and buzzer), the possibility to ensure the maintenance of the distance between people. The downside of this solution is the battery life(from 10 to 30 days) , due to the continuous use of the processor to “listen” to the presence of BLE beacons in the nearby. The beacons then also broadcast a special advertising allowing for control intervention by the staff in charge (head of department /RSPP). Finally, the storage function of the MAC Address of the detected beacon can be enabled, to better track the possible chain of contagion.
Both solutions are based on our “standard” BLE beacons, which integrate many other features including the ability to send alarm signals in case of danger or call for help and, the “man down” function, in case of sickness.
Thanks to their ductility, these BLE beacons will able to be used even after the end of the Covid emergency, thus allowing long-term technological innovation.
Beacons can also be integrated in complex systems, with the presence of Gateway and Echobeacon (repeater) devices, for applications in logistics,industry and at all levels of the company. In other words, the proposed beacons, after the Covid emergency, can be rearranged for other purposes and other projects.
Indoor Position System (IPS) project inside a warehouse with Bluetooth Low Energy: Italdadi’s case
Company born in the 50’s, Italdadi produces metal nuts, which are shipped all over the world: males rubber carriers, niplex, corks and ring nuts, worked with a wide range of surface finishes, complete the mission of this reality.
With over 20 employees and with an annual revenue between 10 and 15 million euros generated from sales all around the world, the dynamic company’s profile is completed.
With a production capacity of more than ten million pieces per month, Italdadi has maintained over the decades a dynamism that has allowed it to distinguish its products from a simple commodity: last generation machines and a last generation information service allow a real-time control of the productive process, devoted to flexibility and efficency, while more than 1000 containers are moved inside the warehouse(metal bins and pallets).
Italdadi’s need is to know in real-time the position of the containers and their contnent inside a 1000m^2 wharehouse: this will optimize the research of specific goods and to reduce the time of containers shifting.
In the past the research of containers required too much time, also aggravated by the risk of human error: these inefficiencies in logistical timing inevitably had also an impact on the production.
The answer to these needs is the Indoor Positioning System (IPS), cheap and convenient, based on the Bluetooth Low Energy technology and the partnership of CD Soluzioni specialized in software management voted for IoT, Global Tag that provided the Beacons and BluEpyc, with its contribution of EchoBeacon and Gateway BLE.
Backbone plug of the Bluetooth Low Energy hardware infrastructure are the Gateways, fixed devices powered and connected to the company’s network via Ethernet, and the EchoBeacon, device working as a repeater (they receive the data from the Beacon and transmit it to the Gateway, ensuring a more granular monitoring of the area presided by the EchoBeacon) that only need to be powered, they are able to reduce installation costs and improve the location of the containers: the Beacons, applied to the containers very easily, send the radio signal (advertising interval) to the Echobeacons, and they represent the heart of the system, while the software is the brain of the system.
Going into more detail about the individual components the Beacons are attached to about 400/500 metal containers stored in the Italdadi warehouse and about 100 containers in the warehouse adjacent to the production, ready to be shipped to suppliers. Started in June 2019 with a feasibility study to evaluate the amount of hardware components to install in the areas of the company and test its performance, the project is evolved, starting from october, of 4 gateways, 24 echobeacons and more than 500 beacons installed on the containers.
At this stage of the feasibility study, the biggest challenge is the correct positioning of EchoBeacon, to ensure a 100% coverage and to avoid the channels congestion, all made more complicated by the reduced space of the warehouse. By placing the EchoBeacon in some areas, the data transmission was impaired by electromagnetic disturbances, so the performance of the system was not satisfactory: the objective of the site survey is precisely to overcome such limits, identifying the optimal positioning of the device.
In particular, the settings of the Beacons have been evaluated in order to optimize the battery consumption and the saving of the data in short times: the choice fell on a ping rate that will allow a battery life of 3 years. The data flow in Italdadi therefore starts from the Beacon on the container, arrives at the EchoBeacon which, with the appropriate filters and calibrations, transmits it to the Gateway, which sends the advertising packets to the “signal triangulation” software: after processing those values, the CD Soluzioni’s system returns the Beacon’s positioning to the management software, and then the container to which it is associated.
The strengths of the system can be summarised as follows:
Very low cost of the Beacons applied to the containers, without reducing their performance, and ease of installation
The EchoBeacons do not require connection to the company (wireless) network, so they simplify and reduce installation costs while improving detection accuracy.
The software optimizes the radio signals received by the Bluetooth LE system and returns the desired information, i.e. the storage position of the container to Italdadi.
All of this can be translates into rapid traceability of the material to be destined for production and the possibility of sharing information that, made available to everyone, no longer depends on the presence and memory of the operators in the warehouse.
«The Beacon was the project key» states Fabio Mazzola, CEO of Global Tag, «as it was necessary to find a solution that was easy to apply but, robust enough to withstand all production processes, including the heat generated by the freshly produced nuts. We have therefore thought of a silicone type support able to resist and protect the tag from high temperature, humidity and corrosive agents; moreover, the position identified on the container has made it possible to preserve it from shocks deriving from handling by forklift trucks.»
He echoes him Dimitri Cardoni di CD Soluzioni, highlighting how “the NRG Suite is now able to support the entire production cycle in Italdadi, from detecting the position of the container in the warehouse to the processing of orders:
by integrating several operations, the Suite not only returns more information to the company, but has increased its value »
Giovanni and Roberta Poli, owners of Italdadi, recognize that “we are very satisfied with the result obtained with an excellent quality/price ratio, we have maintained our constant commitment to innovate and improve the production process using the latest available technologies. The introduction of this system, during all testing and acceptance phases, thanks to the work of the project team, has had little impact on our daily work, allowing us to stay focused on what is our core business»
The Bluetooth Low Energy Protocol (also known as BLE or Bluetooth Smart), was first introduced by Bluetooth SIG along with the Bluetooth 4.0 version (2010).
The BLE protocol allows a wireless data transfer with “low energy” devices (Beacons); once in function, they keep listening to the channel until a device requests a connection with them.
BLE Beacons broadcast data packets via wireless (through the 2,4GHz band) spaced out by configurable time frames (Broadcast Interval). This emitted data string is called Advertising Packet. The connection to the Beacon occurs through the Master/Slave principle. (the same principle used by Bluetooth Classic). The Master has the job to handle the communication (start, synchronization, end), while the Slave only performs the Master orders. The Master can open multiple connections with Slaves at a time, but a Slave can be connected with only one Master at a time.
An example of Master/Slave architecture is the communication between Smartphone and Beacon: The smartphone (Master, with a Bluetooth 4.0 chip or higher) keeps listening to the channel where the Beacons (Slave) send their own Advertising. Once it receives an Advertising, the Smartphone can perform a connection with one or more Beacons at a time (maximum 8).
An example of data sending between Master and Slave during Connection Mode
By remaining dormant most of the time, Beacons have an extremely reduced battery consumption compared to a Bluetooth Classic device (also due to the small amount of data sent during the connection and the dormant period). This allows these devices to be powered by small energy sources (such as a coin-cell), and to have a long life expectancy (from months to several years).
BLUETOOTH LOW ENERGY VERSIONS (BLE)
It is the first protocol that introduced the low energy version (2010).
Faster than the previous version.
Fixes the interference problem with 4G/LTE.
Backward compatible with previous versions.
Allows chips to use Bluetooth over the l’Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6), for a direct Internet access.
Devices that implement the BR/EDR Core Configuration will be backward compatible with all the previous Bluetooth Core Versions that implement the same technology (starting from 1.1).
Compared to previous versions, Bluetooth 4.2 allows a faster throughput (250% more than 4.0 e 4.1 versions).
The packets capacity has been incremented 10 times more than previous versions.
With more efficent and secure features, Bluetooth 4.2 allows only trusted users to track devices and communicate with them.
Backward compatible with previous versions.
Doubled velocity speed (from 1Mbps to 2Mbps), and increased reading range up to 4 times with same power (these features can’t coexist, only one at the time).
Data size that can be sent over a Beacon increased to 255 bytes.
The use of the long reading feature drastically reduce the trasmission speed; That’s because greater is the distance, greater is the probability some bits will be lost, and perform the necessary controls reduce the amount of bits that can be sent.
Backward compatible with previous versions.
Summary Table of the major differences between Bluetooth versions (from 2.0 to 5.0).
Both Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy operate on the same band (2,4GHz).
Both Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy use the Master/Slave architecture: first you have to make the connection, than the communication can start.
BLE devices operate in Sleep Mode, so they wake up only if a connection request is sent, that allows them to have a longer duration than a Bluetooth Classic device.
BLE devices allow a faster connection and a more economic cost than a Bluetooth Classic device, but they have a lower data throughput and a lower reading distance.
POSSIBLE BLE-ORIENTED APPLICATIONS
Inside the IOT Industry (Internet Of Things), there are many applications in which the BLE technology can be integrated. Some example here below:
Indoor Position System-> Indoor tracking of a building with people/animals/objects in it (to know if the entity associated to the Beacon is in the area designed by the user).
Workplace Safety-> Constant monitoring of the workers and the possibility to send a special Advertising if something anomalous happens (e.g: fall, abandonment of the workstation etc…).
Access Control -> A beacon can replace the classic PVC card, but more permorming, there’s no need of a contact or to cross a gate, but only enter/leave a certain area determined by the user.
Marketing -> It’s possible to assign a Beacon to a certain category or product, and configure it with custom values, allowing the Beacon to send via Advertising a packet containing the relative data of the associated category/product.
Tourism -> Placing Beacons in different areas of a museum/park and associate them to a the desired areas/objects, so that it can describe them (Smart Guide).
Smart Home -> To Enable/Disable “smart” devices inside a house , based on certain values trasmitted by the Beacon (for example if a Beacon with a temperature sensor marks a value higher than 27°, send through ad hoc devices a command of POWER ON to an air conditioner). This type of applications don’t work only with a Master/Slave logic, but they need the support of ad hoc devices that can handle this type of dynamics.
The BLE technology is an excellent option for tracking and for long reading distance applications, by having a MAC ADDRESS that allows a global and unique identification. They can also be used alongside the RFID technology for many applications.
Global Tag adds a new RFID UHF long range tag to its product range. Routy UHFis now available!
Routy UHF, long range distance tag
Thanks to its features it can be detected, with 2W ERP power, up to 30 meters and, with a mobile device, up to 8 meters, more than double than an usual reading range of a UHF tag.
This new model maintains the features of robustness, ease of application and quality in the materials used. This tag guarantees resistance and durability, even in harsh environmental conditions (Storage temperature from -40°C to + 100°C).
Awaiting the summer, here is an absolute novelty by Global Tag. It is the silicone wristband Watchy SLIM characterized by high quality materials, an amazing versatility and a size which is smaller than any previous version; this last feature has been required by the many customers which have used the RFID silicone wristband of the Watchy Family during these years.
The new Watchy Slim
Different models of Watchy family
The specifications and options are unchanged, with the possibility to integrate LF and HF chips (also NFC). The tag printing is available (up to 3 colors).
This new product has especially been developed for the following applications:
– Access control in swimming pools and spa
– Access control, management of lockers and micropayments in parks and holiday villages.
– Access control for rooms, SPA area, payments, during the stay in holiday villages and luxury hotels