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Four key elements to achieve precise Bluetooth location services

Dec. 15, 2020

Four key elements to achieve precise Bluetooth location services


Bluetooth direction finding function

The Bluetooth 5.1 core specification has an optional function that can detect the signal direction. Bluetooth devices with this function can determine the direction and signal accuracy by identifying the angle of the signal (that is, identifying the angle at which the signal reaches the receiver or the angle at which the signal leaves the transmitter), and can achieve centimeter-level position accuracy.


This technology will vigorously promote the development of proximity solutions. By using Bluetooth Low Energy RSSI, the proximity solution can more accurately determine the distance between two Bluetooth devices. For example, museums and retailers can send relevant information about nearby points to visitors: when a user approaches a display cabinet/store/shelf, the Bluetooth tags or beacons affixed to it can send relevant data to the user’s smartphone. It may be the information of a certain artwork or the buy-one-get-one promotion activities that users often go to the store.


Imagine that when you walk into a museum, there are multiple exhibits with beacons in one of its exhibition halls. With the support of the Bluetooth direction finding function, you can learn all the relevant information of all exhibits through the App on your mobile phone; When you want to learn about a particular exhibit, just point your mobile phone to it to get more information about the exhibit.


At the same time, these new features will greatly enhance the performance of asset tracking and indoor navigation and positioning systems, and solve the pain point that GPS cannot be used indoors. The direction-finding function allows the real-time location system (RTLS) to more accurately confirm the location of nearby devices. For example, in a factory and warehouse environment, Bluetooth beacons located around the facility can communicate with Bluetooth tags on assets in the warehouse to confirm the location of a pallet or forklift. Such beacons in large shopping malls can locate the location of smartphones and help users find specific stores, restaurants, or the nearest toilets.


For many years, the positioning system has relied on Bluetooth technology to confirm the location of the device and achieve meter-level position accuracy. Nowadays, with the enhancement of location services by the Bluetooth direction-finding function, the positioning system can simultaneously identify the signal strength and direction to determine the location of the device and improve the accuracy to the centimeter level.


Triangulation and Triangulation

The real-time location system (RTLS) uses trilateration and triangulation to determine the location of the device. The trilateral measurement method is very suitable for locating pallets with Bluetooth tags in warehouses or medical equipment in hospitals. According to the TOF distance measurement method (Time of Flight, Chinese translated as "time of flight distance measurement method"), three or the distance between more than three transmitters and the device with the tag and convert this distance into the position coordinate of the target device according to the calculation result.


Although the trilateral measurement method can also be used in shopping malls or stadium navigation solutions, but the triangulation method equipped with Bluetooth directional function can provide a more accurate solution. The triangulation method determines the location of the smartphone based on the angle of the signal sent or received by a fixed-location device. Of course, developers can also combine these two methods to improve positioning accuracy, by using both the Angle of Arrival (AOA) and Angle of Departure (AOD) positioning methods and RSSI to more accurately estimate the location and distance of the device.


Angle of arrival


The Angle of Arrival (AOA) method is used to track mobile transmitters attached to mobile people/equipment (such as warehouse forklifts or hospital patients). When calculating the distance using the angle of arrival, the transmitter uses a single antenna to transmit the signal, and the receiver uses multiple antenna arrays to estimate the transmission angle of the signal. The angle of arrival is calculated according to the phase difference when each antenna receives the transmitted signal. Since the distance between the antennas is fixed and known, the direction of the device can be estimated


Departure angle


The opposite of the arrival angle is the departure angle. Facilities such as stadiums use the departure angle to track the location of visitors' smartphones and provide them with venue navigation. In general, the location of the transmitter is fixed and sends signals to all nearby smartphones. The smartphone obtains the signal direction from the departure angle data and converts it to a location on the map in the app, so that visitors can easily find the route in the venue.When calculating the distance using the departure angle, the transmitter is equipped with multiple antennas and the receiver is equipped with a single antenna. The multiple antennas of the transmitter will switch continuously and transmit data alternately. The receiver samples the transmitter's data and then calculates the transmitter's angle and direction based on the known antenna array situation and sampling information.




Quuppa is a member company of the Bluetooth Technology Alliance in Finland. It is committed to providing location services and applications to many factories and enterprises in the world by providing leading real-time location systems (RTLS). Currently, more than two thousand Quuppa RTLS systems have been deployed in more than fifty cities and towns around the world. Quuppa’s Bluetooth positioning technology solves many problems faced by many companies. Among them, the application and deployment of the Morita fire truck manufacturing plant in Japan has enabled this century-old factory to accurately locate and track important assets, thereby effectively improving Increased production efficiency. Bluetooth asset tracking helps real-time monitoring of fire truck production for more than 100 years, Morita has been focusing on research and development of fire protection technology. Since manufacturing Japan's first fire truck in 1917, Morita has continued to make progress and has now become one of the world's most important fire truck manufacturers. Its Sanda plant covers an area of 57,000 square meters and produces approximately 700 fire trucks every year. Different from the traditional automobile production process, the fire truck is not manufactured on the production line, but the whole vehicle is produced and assembled in a fixed position in the factory. There will be multiple fire trucks in the same location area. Due to the large area of the factory, determining the number of fire trucks in each area and identifying and tracking each fire truck takes time and effort. In addition, there are a lot of metal objects in the factory, so it is also a challenging environment. Fire trucks are produced and assembled at fixed locations in the factory in order to meet this challenge, Morita is actively looking for an asset tracking solution, and finally adopted a Bluetooth location solution based on Quuppa positioning technology provided by the Japanese company Kokusai Kogyo. By installing Quuppa locators on site and attaching tags to each fire truck, the factory can monitor the real-time data generated by the system and see the number and location of fire trucks in a specific area.In the end, experiments have proved that this Bluetooth solution with built-in Quuppa positioning technology can fully meet the requirements put forward by Morita, and has the following advantages: Provide real-time and high-precision location information

High accuracy can be guaranteed even in challenging environments such as large-area ceilings and all-metal structures

Reasonable infrastructure layout and low maintenance cost

Can expand to meet other needs in the future

The solution exceeded Morita's expectations and helped the company improve the production efficiency of fire trucks. Employees can now easily monitor and track fire trucks to predict possible production delays.



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