Is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) the Right Direction for Your Medical Device?

Is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) the Right Direction for Your Medical Device?

Bluetooth.  It’s named after Harald Bluetooth, the tenth-century king of Denmark who united the many bands of Vikings into a unified kingdom.  Today, Bluetooth technology is banding together multitudes of disparate devices so that they can talk to one another.

It’s a technology that has become even more ubiquitous with the advent of Bluetooth Low-energy (BLE).  This is because BLE has the following benefits:

      • Requires very little power to operate for a long period of time
      • Works in “noisy” electronic environments
      • BLE hardware is relatively inexpensive (compared to GSM, WIFI, etc)
      • BLE hardware has a very small form-factor

These features make BLE highly useful for many applications, especially portable medical devices.  Beyond the consumer world, where it has already made significant inroads (such as personal fitness devices, proximity sensing “beacons”, and battery life monitors, to name a few), BLE is starting to make major headway into the medical world.  One of the biggest differences between BLE and classic Bluetooth is that BLE does not “stream” data.  So, your data throughput requirements need to be considered when selecting a Bluetooth platform for communications.  If your application can work well with less bulky and less frequent data packets, BLE might be the perfect solution for you.

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