Indoor asset location enabled by Bluetooth chips from Silicon Labs

Date: 05/07/2022
Digital asset management is further simplified by the availability of Bluetooth-based location services. Semiconductor chip maker Silicon Labs is providing module and chips to support the design of Bluetooth location services. Low-power consuming Silicon Labs' BG22 SiP modules and SoC chips can operate for up to ten years on a single coin cell battery, with advanced software that can track assets, improve indoor navigation, and better locate tags with sub-meter accuracy.

Borda Technology has developed products using Silicon Labs Ics for Healthcare application for managing health facility assets such as medical electronic equipments and other Bluetooth tagged patient tools, systems and devices. It can also be used for Patient Throughput Management and Patient Flow, Patient Safety, and more through real-time location services (RTLS).

"As the largest, pure-play IoT company in the world, we focus on providing complete wireless IoT solutions for the edge, including silicon, software, tools, and support," said Daniel Cooley, CTO of Silicon Labs. "Today's new Bluetooth location services offering further proves our belief that we can deliver differentiated solutions to our customers by thinking of IoT as a complete platform, rather than a singular piece of hardware."

Technology based on these chips help industry's where thousands of parts equipments and things are distributed in a place where monitoring and accessing them is extremely difficult and time-consuming. One good example is assembly-line of a automotive manufacturing where the assembly-line systems and people need to access around 30,000 parts per vehicle. It can be applied to electronics manufacturing where thousands of components need to be accessed in a distributor/electronics manufacturing ware house.
Chemical industry, pharmaceutical industry or any such process driven industry where ingredients need to be monitored to the smallest measure can use this technology.

Bluetooth scores over other technologies such as GPS , Wi-Fi , UWB, in its ability to use indoor, accuracy and cost and low power requirements. Silicon Labs says its smallest SiP and SoC Gives Sub-Meter Accuracy with Bluetooth.

Silicon Labs has leveraged some of the features in Bluetooth 5.1 supporting improved location services. Silicon Labs has developed new advanced software, designed to maximize the location-finding capabilities of our BG22 series of SoCs and SiP modules. The new features and some use cases explained by the Silicon Labs includes:

Asynchronous continued tone extension (CTE) broadcasts from the device to the locator. Asynchronous broadcast eliminates the need for synchronized transmission timings between the device and locator, thereby enabling the locators to track a large number of assets simultaneously and multiple locators to simultaneous to see the same asset at the same time for triangulation.

Broad spectrum CTE broadcast across all 37 channels to reduce interference by moving the CTE transmissions from advertisement to data channels.

These new features enhance Silicon Labs' Bluetooth software portfolio, one of the most comprehensive set of solutions available for accelerating development of direction-finding applications. With additional development tools specifically designed to accelerate development of direction-finding applications. Silicon Labs' portfolio positions developers and designers to build a wide range of IoT location service applications that can meet the unique needs of every environment and deployment.

This new software runs on the BG22 family of Bluetooth low energy (LE) SoCs and SiPs, the smallest in Silicon Labs' portfolio. This product family combines best-in-class, ultra-low transmit and receive power (4.1 Ma TX at 0 dBm, 3.6 Ma RX) with a high-performance, low-power ARM Cortex-M33 core (27 a/MHz active, 1.2 a sleep). Altogether, these deliver industry-leading energy efficiency that can extend coin-cell battery life up to ten years, claims Silicon Labs.

Borda Technology Uses Silicon Labs AoA and AoD Location Services to Improve Operational Efficiency and Quality of Patient Care. Borda Technology uses a RTLS asset tracking capabilities to reduce the time it takes to search for equipment. Borda uses new tamper-proof asset tracking tags that not only can help to locate an item, but also provide staff with operational insights when making informed healthcare and business decisions. This solution helps to identify uncalibrated equipment from being used by setting alarms that can alert staff to equipment that needs attention.
Some points from the case-study:
Borda introduced its tamper-proof tracking tags and locators, based on Silicon Labs' BG22 Bluetooth SoCs, that take advantage of the high-precision accuracy offered by current Bluetooth specifications. These tags offer the ability to track the utilization of devices as well as the interactions with the asset by patients and hospital staff.
Being able to quickly locate assets not only benefits caregivers and patients, but it also means biomedical engineers or calibration staff dont spend as much time tracking down equipment to be maintained. The Borda solution prevents uncalibrated equipment from being used by setting alarms that can alert staff to equipment that needs attention.
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Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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