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Learnings from RFID Journal LIVE! 2017: Can BLE Change RTLS?

Now is the time for leaders to emerge from companies based in Bluetooth Low Energy.
By Philipp von Gilsa
May 21, 2017

The 2017 edition of RFID Journal LIVE! just finished up in Phoenix, and it was a whirlwind. From hearing the positive (and surprisingly confirmatory) feedback on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to getting to sit down with Steve Statler for a 360 interview, my colleague and I could not have had a better experience.

We found confirmation that BLE is becoming the powerhouse we envisioned it to be. With multiple talks and professional workshops on the topic, RFID Journal LIVE! made it clear that BLE is here to stay. I've narrowed my findings down to three further key takeaways on BLE in real-time location system (RTLS) technology.

Takeaway 1:
People need convincing before they recognize BLE as an RTLS powerhouse. This is something we already knew and we're working day and night on. Experts and newcomers want confirmation that the tech can scale, work in rough environments, and maintain a robust signal.

For businesses, these are crucial topics. They should be confident about their RTLS solution before implantation, and that's why we're gathering use cases, supporting POCs and sharing our research. This is a bridge we must all cross together.

Takeaway 2:
Bluetooth is no longer a "hot, hot, hot" trendy topic—and this is perfect. The initial "oohs and aahs" are over. Now we can do the real, meaningful work. An RTLS shouldn't be about what's trendy, but what's practical. Instead of an ocean of bad but "hot" solutions, we're seeing real, viable solutions emerge. The remaining companies are more mature and realistic.

Everyone in the Bluetooth for asset tracking space must remain realistic about capabilities and usages. We have to work out the kinks in order to deliver a sustainable product that will grow into something stable and with longevity.

Takeaway 3:
My final, personal learning: We, as providers, need to say "no" sometimes. This refers much to point #2. Just because a company wants BLE doesn't mean they need it. It doesn't mean their use case will work. Bluetooth-based companies need to remain focused in order to deliver projects that are successful.

The Bluetooth market as a whole is growing and evolving. If individuals want to succeed and if we want to solidify the idea behind the solution, we must become mature market players. We must look to the paths taken by past RFID solutions and learn from them. RFID has already highlighted how given markets function, what we can do and even what we should be wary about. Now is the time for leaders to emerge from companies based in BLE. We need thought leaders as well as business and tech leaders alike.

Philipp von Gilsa is the VP of market operations for Kontakt.io. He is focused on building sustainable relationships and developing Kontakt.io's role in the global market. He also hopes to push the Internet of Things forward with his own small contributions to the Bluetooth beacon revolution.

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