Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons are mainly used for positioning, because the mounting is very flexible and easy. However, their battery operation for two to eight years without having to rely on external power supply is also very useful for positioning. Beacons have other useful features besides the locating function, which are also used outside the locating range.
Above all, BLE Beacons can also provide a large number of different sensor values. This enables the detection of movement (accelerometer/tiltometer), temperature, humidity, air pressure, light and magnetism. This makes them particularly suitable for applications in office and home automation, healthcare, retail and industry.
TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY MEASUREMENT
An application example of beacons outside the locating functionality is temperature measurement. Temperature is the most frequently measured environmental variable. Temperature sensors – devices for measuring thermal energy, with which a physical temperature change can be detected – can be used in a variety of applications. They have found their way into manufacturing industry, agriculture, room automation and healthcare, among others. The sensors can measure the temperature of solids or liquids and are an integrated element in a BLE Beacon (for condition monitoring of assets).
Humidity is defined as the amount of water vapor in an atmosphere of air or other gases. The most common measure for measuring humidity is relative humidity (RH). RH is the ratio of the actual amount of water vapor (content) in the air to the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold at that temperature (capacity).
By measuring the humidity, it can be ensured that processes run smoothly and that immediate action can be taken in the event of sudden changes. Among the most important applications are industrial and office environments for heating, ventilation and climate control. Humidity sensors are often combined with temperature sensors for condition monitoring.
Related use case: Temperature Monitoring of Food in a Warehouse
Related use case: Condition Monitoring in Archive Rooms
Related use case: Monitoring of Environmental Conditions in Pharmaceutical Storage
MONITORING OF ACTIVITIES
Motion sensors are electromechanical devices for measuring acceleration forces. They measure the acceleration, movement or vibration of a device or system. The sensors can be used for shock monitoring, occupancy detection and fall detection. Sometimes motion sensors are used as integrated element of BLE Beacons.
The use of motion sensors is also possible without a position determination, because they can be assigned to an object like an office chair, a bed or a person. Thus, an event can be assigned to a user without the beacon being located continuously.
Related use case: Workplace Occupancy Sensing
Related use case: Dead Man Control via Indoor Positioning
BEACONS IN THE FORM OF E-INK DISPLAYS
Another possibility to use beacons besides position determination is the use in form of E-Ink Displays for electronic and centralized labeling of objects.
The electrophoretic display is a technology that emulates the appearance of ink on paper (electronic ink, E-Ink). If this process is used to print on a plastic film laminated to a layer with integrated circuits, an Electronic Paper Display (EPD) is created. The EPD technology conveys the look and feel of paper and convinces with good readability, very wide viewing angles, design freedom, robustness and low power consumption.
E-Ink products offer a readability under all lighting conditions that is very close to that of printed paper. In addition, they are described as bistable, which means that the display only consumes power when the display content changes, enabling an exceptional battery life of up to 5 years.
Related use case: Digital Room Signage in Office Buildings
Related use case: Tracking Solution with Information Display for Hospital Beds