Bluetooth low energy nodes offer accuracy to within 30 cm

November 20, 2018 //By Julien Happich
Bluetooth low energy nodes offer accuracy to within 30 cm
The myriads of Bluetooth beacons that had to be deployed in commercial buildings in order to track the whereabouts of consumers and their smartphones may no longer be needed. Many dedicated beacon applications could now be implemented with just one or two Bluetooth nodes per floor as researchers from Imec have managed to extract range from a Bluetooth signal with an accuracy down to 30 cm.

At electronica, Imec researchers where demonstrating the use of a BLE-enabled smartphone as a digital car key, based on Secure High Accuracy Distance Measurement (HADM) algorithms the group recently developed. But reaching a 30 cm accuracy, over 10 times better than current approaches, could open up many different applications for accurate indoor navigation (patient in or out of their room) or even for automated tire pressure measurement applications.

The researchers were also able to extract "angle of arrival" signal information from a BLE module, meaning that it would only take one module to accurately geolocalize another BLE user. As a demonstration, a spokesperson for imec walked away with a BLE radio transmitter, while the other logged the distance. A single return trip a few meters away read as a nice stepping curve on a nearby display unit.

For BLE-enabled tyre pressure sensors, this new feature means the exact position of any new tyre mounted on a vehicle could be automatically determined by a Bluetooth node in the cockpit, removing the need for the inertial measurement units that are used today in conjunction with the pressure sensor to determine a tyre's rotation patterns and its position relative to the cockpit (so the tyre monitoring system knows where each tyre is).

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