Putting the Smart in Smart Homes With Bluetooth

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Bluetooth and internet connectivity

 Internet connectivity is one of the main requirements for a smart home – otherwise there is no way in which the various devices in the house can communicate. Implementing Bluetooth connectivity has become a lot easier. There are a few guidelines that have been set up regarding RESTful (Representational State Transfer) APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for Bluetooth internet gateway products. These guidelines allow remote access to the devices in a home using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). The Bluetooth devices can connect, pair, and interact with the devices in the house.

 Using a HTTP proxy service, devices can create HTTP requests, and convey them to the gateway using Bluetooth. The gateway converts it into an actual HTTP request. For example, temperature sensors can be programmed to send temperature readings at certain intervals to a server in the cloud. Another example of this is a security system that uses a sensor to detect when the front door is opened. The HTTP proxy service is used by the sensor and a query is created. This query gets posted to a server, and the server sends a notification to the user’s smartphone to alert him or her about the event.

 Using devices with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) (which is a newer, low-power version of Bluetooth Classic) is very beneficial because it allows users to obtain data about the state of the device, such as temperature, battery level, or model number. When Bluetooth devices are connected, a client-server relationship is formed – for example, a phone can act as a client, and a smaller device with state data can act as a server. Communication between these two devices happens with the attribute protocol. The state data of the devices is grouped together to form services. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has defined certain standard services such as device information service and battery service.

Flexibility for developers

 BLE is very convenient for developers to use because it allows developers to create their services that are standards compliant, but they do not have to actually approach Bluetooth for the standardisation process. This saves a lot of time for developers. Developers can create their own custom services and they can define their own operations.

 Bluetooth Developer Studio is another tool offered by Bluetooth for developers. It is essentially a profile designer tool. A profile gives information about the services, characteristics, and descriptors of the device. It has drag and drop tools which enable developers to combine standard Bluetooth services as well as their own services. The code gets generated accordingly. It also has plugin component which generates the code for different platforms.

Ideal for smart homes and smart cities

 BLE is definitely a preferred solution for smart homes and smart cities. The fact that it is reliable, secure and also safeguards privacy make it very ideal. Bluetooth Low Energy, as the name suggests, utilises very little power and can be deployed in areas where charging and replacing of batteries is inconvenient. When compared to other protocols like IPv6, it has certain advantages. It requires less power as compared to IPv6. Also, it has the ability to connect a very large range of devices, which is not possible using IPv6.