Market Research for the Commercial Use of Bluetooth Low-Energy Wakeup ReceiversI
Bluetooth Low-Energy Wakeup Receiver Technology (WRX) is a recent technology that was developed as an alternative to Near-Field Communication (NFC), also referred to as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Ultra Wideband (UWB), and Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE). While classic Bluetooth, which is commonly used for everyday familiar devices, such as smartwatches and headphones, is used for devices that transmit larger amounts of data, NFC, UWB, and BLE technologies were designed for devices designed for low data traffic and that are meant to run for extended periods - months or years - before they run out of power. WRX technology is designed such that the receiver is always in a sleep-state until primed by a device. Although there are many advantages associated with this technology, there are some significant risks that may result in lower-than-expected market penetration for startups attempting to introduce this technology into the market. To clearly identify these risks, we identified the potential target market for this technology and explored the potential issues a company producing this technology may face.
- WRX technology is a much more energy-efficient version of BLE technology that enables long device lifetimes.
- It has similar applications to NFC tecchnology. However, NFC technology, despitee its limited range, is considered more secure and does not require a power source.
- UWC technology is as effective as BLE and WRX. However, it has better capabilities regarding security protocols.
BLE: THE POTENTIAL TARGET MARKET OF WRX TECHNOLOGY
- The primary advantage of WRX technology over BLE is the significant extension of battery life due to lower power consumption and its ability to produce higher sensitivity.
- As such, the most direct competitor to WRX technologies are the existing BLE devices.
NFC TECHNOLOGY HAS NICHE APPLICATIONS
- NFC technology is unique in that it allows communication between an active device (powered) and a passive device (unpowered). As such, there are no concerns regarding the battery life of mobile devices using this technology. This makes these chips suitable for keycards, access tokens, credit and debit cards, contactless payment systems, and electronic identity documents.
- The commercial applications for NFC technology are quite varied due to the versatile operation modes of these devices that BLE and WRX are unable to reproduce. The operation modes, including read/write, peer-to-peer, charging, and card/host card/secure element based card emulation, mean this technology is applied in different markets, including in security, logistics, commerce, social networking, gaming and sport.
- Although this may be considered a drawback for certain applications, passive NFC devices need to be in very close proximity, up to 4cm, to be activated by an active device. While this may present as an inconvenience for users, this allows additional security, when compared to other forms of transmission, such as BLE. BLE is susceptible to signal jamming and relay attacks.
- Lastly, NFC is not only a low-cost and widely available technology, it is considered vital to the development of green Internet of Things (IoT) applications due to their energy harvesting capabilities. As such, attempting to introduce WRX technology in the same market space comfortably occupied by NFC technology could prove risky.
UWB IS MORE SECURE THAN BLE AND WRX TECHNOLOGY
- A major drawback of NFC in some applications is the proximity requirement. As such, for application in security markets, such as remote-controlled access for vehicles or secured locations, NFC may be inconvenient at best or practically unsuitable.
- Both BLE technology and UWB address the range problem associated with NFC but use different approaches. BLE relies on signal strength to estimate the distance between the transmitter and the receiver. However, these transmissions may be intercepted and used to gain unauthorised access.
- UWB measures the distance between the transmitter and the receiver using the time-of-flight and angle-of-arrival measurements of signals. Furthermore, UWB technology is based on a newer technology standard, IEEE 802.15.4z and can include a scrambled time sequence, which is a form of encryption that prevents unauthorised access through intercepted signals. All this is achieved while still maintaining low energy consumption, much like WRX technology. As such, penetration into the same market as that of UWB, which requires higher standards of security, may prove to be difficult.
- Lastly, UWB technology can be utilised to deliver highly accurate line-of-sight and better localization in non-line of sight scenarios. Major technology companies, including Samsung and Apple, have introduced UWB technology alongside Bluetooth and BLE technologies to their devices. This suggests that the advantages introduced by WRX technology over BLE may already exist and are incorporated into devices that aleady utiise existing BLE technologies.