Bluetooth 5.1 Might Usher in a New Era For RTLS, but the Market Needs to be Open to Cooperation

1Q 2019 | IN-5389
In addition to more consequential features, Bluetooth Core Specification v5.1, announced on January 28, 2019 by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), brings enhancements in the form of minor upgrades to how Generic Attributes are stored and advertising channels are ordered. However, the most important part of the new specification is its new Radio Direction Finding (RDF) feature, which will allow RDF-ready devices to detect the direction from which a Bluetooth signal is coming, instead of simply estimating the distance between the devices from the transmitted signal’s intensity. This, in turn, will allow for a significant improvement in location accuracy, as it is expected that with RDF Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) location accuracy can drop down from a few meters to sub-meter level. RDF is not a new technique to radio-frequency technologies in general, nor is it new to Bluetooth applications, but being standardized by the Bluetooth SIG may foster interoperability in wayfinding and asset tracking cases that require higher accuracy than previously allowed by Received Signal Strength Identification (RSSI), and interoperability is an important aspect when it comes to the scalability of these solutions.

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