Bluetooth LE for Sensor Networks to Increase 18X by 2022, Says ON World

Bluetooth Low Energy’s (BLE) impact on wireless sensor networking will be as dramatic as it was for wearable devices such as activity trackers, smartwatches and medical devices, according to a recently published study by global technology research firm ON World.

“Multi-protocol BLE/802.15.4 chipsets are now shipping with BLE as the smart device and wireless sensor network interface,” says Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director. “The latest advances in Bluetooth 5 and a completed mesh specification will accelerate growth for BLE in sensor networking and related IoT applications.”

Significant improvements in Bluetooth 5 include 4X network range, 2X transmission speed and 8X broadcast message capacity. In July, the Bluetooth SIG completed a mesh network specification to provide home and building-wide coverage with densities of thousands of nodes.

Ongoing advances with multi-protocol chipsets that support BLE and 802.15.4 provides manufacturers with future-proof solutions. In addition, innovative uses of BLE are emerging for asset tracking, equipment monitoring and workflow optimization in manufacturing, healthcare, retail, food services, hospitality and other enterprises.

ON World found that some BLE markets such as industrial sensors, thermostats and smart home hubs increased faster than wearables last year. With the latest advances in Bluetooth 5 and a completed mesh specification, growth for BLE in these types of markets will accelerate.

Between 2016 and 2022, annual shipments of BLE chipsets for IoT markets will increase by 524%. Compared with wearables and entertainment controls, wireless sensor network BLE markets such as industrial sensors, smart homes and building automation, will increase 3X faster over this period.

A few examples of some of the latest BLE IoT innovations include the following:


  • Commercial building lighting control platforms by Casambi and Silvair.
  • Smart home lighting and energy management by Avi-on, Ilumi and Zuli.
  • WiFi access points with dual protocol BLE/802.15.4 chips by eero.
  • BLE beacons for proximity monitoring, workflow optimization, asset tracking and monitoring.
  • In-the field industrial sensor commissioning and mobile app dashboards.
  • Combo 802.15.4/BLE chips by Nordic, NXP, Qualcomm, Qorvo, Silicon Labs and TI.

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