New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

BLE: The Future of Bluetooth Low Energy

Team: 74

School: Los Alamos Mid

Area of Science: Computer Science


Interim: Problem Definition:
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a relatively new version of Bluetooth that was introduced in 2006. BLE’s portability and low energy consumption would allow it to be used in healthcare, sports and fitness, security, automation, entertainment, toys, pay systems, and time services.
In health care, BLE can be used for stethoscopes, probes/sensors, EKG, heart rate monitor system, measuring blood levels, and blood pressure cuffs. BLE can be incorporated into heart rate systems, and special shoes that act as a GPS to track how far a person runs in fitness. Some recent security systems also use BLE for detecting. One example is a lock that unlocks when it detects a certain phone within range. The idea of using BLE to detect objects can also be included in home automation. For example, when you walk into a room with your phone the lights can automatically turn on and off once you leave the room with your phone. Another big use is entertainment; using BLE, your phone can communicate with streaming devices such as Apple TV or Roku. Next is what everyone loves: toys! With BLE you can go buy a robot and program it with your iPad or tablet over a BLE connection. With pay systems, BLE is a viable use because it is secure, localized, and easy to use. Time services is a yet another possibility: BLE can sync the time from your phone other destinations such as a hotel room clock so you can see what time it is back home.

The goal of this project is to incorporate some of these possible uses in real life. Some of these ideas would work extremely well with BLE while others would be harder to attain.

Problem Solution:
Our programs would provide automation, the ability to track your phone and some other features mentioned above.

Progress to Date:

So far, we have incorporated BLE into home automation. We have constructed a program in Objective C that allows a laptop to track an iPhone, and an app for the iPhone 5 that advertises data over BLE. The program looks for data that the iPhone advertises, or sends out, including the RSSI (received signal strength indicator) value, included in the BLE packets. RSSI can be thought of as signal strength that has an inverse relationship with distance. When the program finds the iPhone’s data, it can track how far away the phone is by using RSSI value. When the RSSI goes out of a certain range (i.e. when the iPhone is a certain distance away from the laptop), the laptop will lock its screen.
We have also worked making a variation of the program that converts RSSI to distance. This would be useful because you would know how many meters your iPhone is from your computer if you misplaced it. We have not currently made a program that can successfully do these conversions.
Finally, we have worked on creating a program that visually displays the signal strength (RSSI) of the tracked iPhone on a laptop. Because RSSI does not specify an exact location, the visual representation on the laptop would resemble a circle with a cartoon laptop at its midpoint. The radius of the circle would be the RSSI and the iPhone would be somewhere along its perimeter. As the iPhone moves farther away from the computer, the circle shown on the program would become bigger.

Expected Results: Our final result is to write a program for an iPhone that tracks a BLE chip that is advertising its RSSI and converts the RSSI to distance. The program would be able track BLE chips inserted into devices such as wallets or TV remotes. Using the program to detect valuables like credit cards or wallets would allow a person to know how far away they are from their device if it is lost or stolen. The program could also alert the owner of their valuable is stolen or lost and goes out of a certain range.


Team Members:

  Alexander Ionkov
  Ethan Aulwes

Sponsoring Teacher: Pauline Stephens

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