Introducing Bluetooth Smart as a way to enable the Internet of Things

Over the past two decades, the car has gone from a mechanical beast to an electronic supercomputer from the inside. About a decade or so ago, when a car broke down, a driver with a little technical experience could easily guess what the problem was, and possibly even solve it. Today, things are a little different. In our modern society, technology has matured and most vehicles have very advanced electronic systems that are often controlled by multi-core application processors hidden in multiple locations in the vehicle”s electronic control unit (ECU). Since the intelligent system has already diagnosed the problem, suggested the next action to take, and may even have solved the problem, there is no need for the user to guess what is wrong. This is an absolutely first-class user experience.

The user experience is closely related to the technology hidden in the internal devices. The ECU runs at full speed with the help of active safety features while maintaining an aesthetically pleasing design. the ECU runs advanced sensor fusion, which in this case provides real-time feedback to the control system during drive time, this information includes things around, speed, calculated drive path, etc. Vehicles capable of self-parking are already available, and the only barrier to the spread of autonomous vehicles is ethical considerations, where it is believed that the control system must be operated by the driver. On a technical level, the above features have already been implemented.

There are several types of ECUs available, each responsible for a different subsystem, such as doors, speed, on-board information communication system, and transmission. the ECU collects data from a collection of multiple sensors in the vehicle, which number more than 100. After the data is collected, the ECU aggregates this data together and then makes decisions based on the combined data. Traditionally, this data collection has been done with cables inside the vehicle. These cables need to be manually installed in tight and limited spaces, which is one of the more time-consuming tasks in the automotive production line and adds weight and cost. These cables can be replaced by wireless communication, and this blog post describes the advantages of using Bluetooth® Smart.

Bluetooth Smart

Bluetooth Smart is the brand name for devices that use Bluetooth low-power technology, which became part of the Bluetooth 4.0 specification in 2010. Since Bluetooth 4.1 and Bluetooth 4.2 were already in use at that time, the protocol was enhanced by adding new features to further increase data throughput and security. The technology was designed to be low power, secure and easy to deploy. The most common scenario involves sharing small amounts of data over several years of operation powered by a single coin cell battery. Low power consumption is achieved by keeping the device in a sleep state for most of the operating time, with short wake-up times to send a few bytes of data. In most cases, this technology can be implemented by a single-chip solution, which also makes this technology advantageous in terms of cost and board space. In addition, unlike traditional Bluetooth technology, Bluetooth Smart does not have to use a specific system profile; Bluetooth Smart can use custom system profiles provided they conform to the Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) architecture.

For automotive applications, the simplified design process and ease of deployment will provide the most significant benefits. The challenge introduced by the addition of wireless protocols is related to security, which is protected in Bluetooth Smart by using 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to encrypt wireless (OTA) packets and ensure privacy of this communication. When a connection is created, the authentication and authorization process is performed to prevent MITM attacks by using a password or OBB pairing (implemented through other media, such as NFC). When a connection has been established, communication takes place over more than 37 frequency hopping channels in order to maintain privacy. To ensure lossless and reliable data transmission, an integrity check is performed on each packet. Therefore, there are many built-in mechanisms in the kernel that are constantly being improved over time. To further improve security, Bluetooth 4.2 introduces Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) with Diffie-Hellman key exchange.

Applications

Think of a box full of cables in your house (everyone has one of these boxes in their house). Boxes are heavy, aren”t they? Cables are heavy, and that”s what makes cable replacement in automotive applications such an interesting topic. By introducing wireless connectivity solutions, costs can be reduced significantly. The cost here is not just the cost of materials, but also the cost of deployment and, for the consumer, the cost of fuel consumption. Sensors are everywhere in the car, and their mounting cables are not always practical. Think of the impractical placement of tire pressure sensors, which cannot be solved with conventional wiring. There are other moving parts in the car that benefit from wireless communication, such as infotainment controls in the steering wheel. Interior lighting control can also be implemented wirelessly to provide ambient, clustered and programmable LED lighting.

Smartphones are an important component of the Bluetooth Smart ecosystem, due to the fact that the vast majority of smartphones today support Bluetooth Smart. This means that the ECU in the vehicle can communicate with sensors and the driver”s smartphone to provide diagnostic data or receive personalized configuration settings. This compatibility also extends to tablets, which allows service technicians to interact with the central unit for data or, if allowed, to communicate with individual sensors. The smartphone can also serve as a key and become an additional security checkpoint. An example of this is a fingerprint reader (iPhone 5S/6) or password/graphic code access.

An interactive vehicle user manual can also be provided on the smartphone. This enables the vehicle to send alerts to the phone, for example, low tire pressure, which are encapsulated with information on the smartphone related to the next operation, for example, providing information related to the nearest gas station. Repair alerts can also be pushed to the smartphone, which enables the user to schedule a visit to a pre-selected or nearest automated repair shop. This is where cloud-based services can make a big difference, enabling cars to interface with the Internet via smartphones, a way for Bluetooth Smart to enable the Internet of Things (IoT).

Conclusion

As vehicles (and not just small cars) become more advanced and very smart, more information is needed to be able to make sound and safe decisions. Therefore, just as wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth Smart is needed to seamlessly interface with the core functions of the vehicle through in-car controls or smartphones, sensor fusion becomes even more important.

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Categorized as Smart Home

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