For years, Cassia Networks has delivered reliable, long-range multiple-device connectivity, edge-processing, and location services solutions for Bluetooth IoT networks. The company supports a wide range of markets including the Industrial IoT (IIoT), Connected Healthcare, Smart Campus and personnel & asset tracking. Cassia’s enterprise Bluetooth IoT products and solutions are deployed throughout North America, Europe, China, Japan and many other countries and regions.
In a recent podcast, Bluetooth SIG interviewed Felix Zhao, CEO of Cassia Networks to discuss how the company is working with today’s leading solution providers and partners to provide personnel and asset tracking management solutions and location services using Bluetooth technology.
How is Cassia working with solution providers to enable positioning and location services using Bluetooth technology?
Cassia works closely with our partners to provide personnel and asset tracking solutions based on Bluetooth locationing technologies. For Bluetooth tag & beacon vendors and Bluetooth locationing solution providers, Cassia provides industry leading Bluetooth gateways and Bluetooth IoT management software. Our partners provide the Bluetooth tags, beacons, and the application software. The combined locationing solutions have been widely used for personnel and asset tracking applications for various industries such as Industrial, health care, education, construction, and retail etc. in many countries and regions. For example, Cassia is working closely with Kontakt.io, a world leader in providing Bluetooth tags and locationing solutions, to provide key asset tracking management solutions. This combined solution has been successfully deployed and used in various markets (e.g. medical manufacturing factories) to track personnel and assets in real-time.
Also, Cassia has been working closely with our locationing solution provider partner in China to develop a personnel tracking solution for the petrochemical factories. These types of factories are high-risk environments, therefore, this solution allows management to track the location of their workers in real-time and send notifications/alerts in the event a worker’s health and safety are at risk. The solution helps keep workers safe and also ensures workplace health and safety policies are met. Furthermore, Bluetooth positioning plays an important role in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. By deploying an asset tracking solution powered by Bluetooth technology, medical staff can easily track and monitor ill patients as well as locate medical assets such as wheelchairs, crash carts and ventilators. Cassia is currently working with several healthcare solution providers to provide personnel and asset tracking solutions based on Bluetooth’s positioning technology.
How can Bluetooth technology help solve the locationing and positioning challenges?
Traditional positioning technology such as GPS does not work well in an indoor environment. Bluetooth technology helps to overcome this challenge. The signal strength (converted to an RSSI value) of a Bluetooth tag or other BLE device received by the Bluetooth gateway is inversely related to the distance. That is, as distance increases, the Bluetooth signal strength or RSSI value gradually decreases. As a result, one can determine if a Bluetooth end device is in the coverage area of a Bluetooth gateway and the approximate distance between the Bluetooth device and the gateway. This is the simplest form of Bluetooth locationing: point of presence. If there are three or more Bluetooth gateways receiving broadcast signals from the same Bluetooth end device at the same time, the coordinates of the device can be calculated more accurately through a trilateration algorithm. The accuracy is generally around 3 to 5 meters. This is the second form of Bluetooth locationing. These locationing methods are suitable for various applications such as personnel and asset tracking in schools, hospitals, and factories. Cassia’s Bluetooth gateways and IoT Access Controller (AC) currently support all the above locationing methods. Also, we are currently working on new products and solutions designed to significantly improve accuracy (e.g. with sub one-meter accuracy) using Bluetooth 5.1 AoA/AoD positioning technology.
What are the key advantages of Cassia’s Bluetooth locationing solution?
Cassia’s gateways can extend Bluetooth’s range up to 300 meters with Bluetooth 4.0 and up to 1 km if using Bluetooth 5.0 without requiring any changes to the Bluetooth protocol or end device. As a result, fewer gateways are needed to cover large areas like a factory or hospital or school allowing for reduced deployment and equipment costs. For our partners, this is a huge advantage. Furthermore, Cassia’s gateways also support a very powerful pure scanning mode which not only improves positioning accuracy but also improves scan capability in environments with high background noise as well as situations requiring a large number of sensors. Cassia gateways and IoT Access Controller also provide enterprise-level reliability, scalability, end-to-end security, and edge-computing capabilities that are vitally important for enabling enterprise locationing services. Last, Cassia’s E1000 Bluetooth gateway can bi-directionally pair and connect up to 40 Bluetooth Low Power devices while still providing reliable data transmission and locationing functions at the same time. This makes it possible to have one Bluetooth network to support both data transmission and locationing services simultaneously. The benefits for customers are reduced deployment and equipment costs as well as improved security and reliability.
Why have you chosen to use Bluetooth technology?
We have chosen to focus on Bluetooth technology because we see the value Bluetooth offers for the IoT and locationing applications.
First, is the low power consumption and long battery life. Tags and beacons, for example, are usually powered by batteries. The minimal power consumption of Bluetooth technology can significantly extend the battery life of these devices compared to other wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi where battery life will only last a few days or weeks at most. The advantage for the end-user is a significant reduction in maintenance and equipment costs.
The second reason is the low cost. Compared with other wireless technologies, the cost of a Bluetooth chip and module is significantly lower. This plays a critical role in IoT, especially for enterprises looking to reduce costs and improve their bottom line.
Third, Bluetooth technology is one of the most common connectivity standards and is universally accepted. For instance, the 2.4 GHz band is available worldwide, which makes it a standard for low-power wireless connectivity. Because of the ubiquitous nature of Bluetooth technology, end-users are less concerned with compatibility issues and/or having to customize different end-devices for different countries.
Last, the market for Bluetooth technology is growing rapidly. To date, there are tens of billions of existing Bluetooth devices such as Bluetooth tags, beacons, and sensors, etc. which greatly lower the entry barriers for IoT customers.
What do you see for the future of Bluetooth technology as it relates to location services?
It’s exciting to see how Bluetooth technology is meeting the needs of location services and how it is becoming the wireless technology of choice. We see the growing number of Bluetooth Low Power devices being used in various industries for personnel and asset tracking applications and we’re excited to be contributing to this growth. Cassia is committed to providing our current customers and future partners with the most advanced enterprise Bluetooth IoT solutions and products to meet their needs.