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IOTE 2024 | The 21st International Internet of Things Exhibition-Shanghai

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Navigating Bluetooth Positioning: Room-Level Gateways, Precision AoA/AoD, and Consumer Tags (IoT Expo China-IOTE® Expo)


 In the realm of Bluetooth positioning, various technologies cater to diverse needs. Let’s delve into four primary categories:

1. Room-Level Gateway Positioning

The core device here is the Bluetooth gateway, utilizing RSSI for room-level positioning. Suited for asset management scenarios, it offers a cost-effective solution. With affordable gateway prices in the market — ranging from a couple of hundred to over a thousand — a Bluetooth gateway connects with Bluetooth location tags in each room. The cost advantage becomes apparent, especially when compared to UHF RFID solutions. Beyond cost, Bluetooth tags support real-time data upload, meeting the evolving demands of asset management. The sizable production volumes of these gateways, with millions shipped by domestic manufacturers alone, underscore their significance on a global scale.

2. Beacon Positioning

Bluetooth Beacons, also based on RSSI, employ a triangulation approach for more accurate positioning, achieving precision within a range of 1–3 meters. While their deployment density is higher than room-level gateways, leading to increased costs, the enhanced accuracy justifies the investment. Estimated data suggests that around 5 million Bluetooth Beacon products (base stations) are shipped annually by domestic manufacturers, with the global volume reaching tens of millions when considering accompanying tag products.

3. AoA/AoD Bluetooth Positioning

Leveraging Bluetooth 5.1 standards, Angle of Arrival (AoA) and Angle of Departure (AoD) algorithms enable high-precision positioning within sub-meter accuracy. With AoA relying on a single antenna for directional signals and AoD utilizing antenna arrays for signal transmission, these technologies find applications in B2B scenarios. Despite requiring substantial base station deployment and incurring higher individual costs, AoA Bluetooth base stations number around 50,000 annually in the domestic market, accompanied by approximately 1 million corresponding tags.


4. Consumer Tag Products

Consumer-oriented tracking tags come in two types: pure Bluetooth tags, such as Huawei Tag, and Bluetooth+UWB products, exemplified by Apple’s AirTag. The former, with over 100–200 million units shipped annually by domestic manufacturers alone, and the latter, with around 30–40 million units shipped globally per year, contribute significantly to the overall Bluetooth positioning ecosystem.

Summing up, the cumulative global shipments of Bluetooth positioning products reach approximately 260 million units annually. While this figure might be subject to some exaggeration, it underscores the substantial presence of Bluetooth technology in positioning solutions. Looking ahead, the consensus is that high-precision positioning is a definitive direction for the future, aligning with the trajectory of the digital economy and the foundational role of location data as a fundamental dimension in the realm of data. As Bluetooth paves the way, the torch is expected to be passed to dedicated UWB technologies for distance measurement in the coming years.

This paper is from Ulink Media, Shenzhen, China, the organizer of IOTE EXPO (IoT Expo in China)

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