Today, just about anything can be connected to anything else via wireless technology—and it’s more accessible than ever for application developers to create their own connected devices. Carmanah software developer Muhammad Usama bin Aftab helps decipher the opportunities in his new book, Building Bluetooth Low Energy Systems, proving that Carmanah’s skilled employees don’t just know what they’re talking about—they can write books about it, too.
“A technology that we keep in our pockets 24/7, and which can be used to communicate for no or less cost with theoretically anything, is fascinating to me,” says Aftab, who goes by Usama and has worked at Carmanah since 2015.
Wireless headsets, wireless beacons, and smart watches all exist thanks to the power of Bluetooth wireless technology, which connects them to other devices like cell phones and computers in relatively close range. It is one of many technologies that enables the Internet of Things (IOT)—the connection of physical devices to electronic devices that allows them to collect and exchange data in real time.
Bluetooth Classic, which has existed since 1994, is used for devices that require data transferring. Meanwhile, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), technology first introduced in 2006, requires less power to operate while giving better communication range. In general, it is designed and marketed for novel applications in industries like healthcare, fitness, beacons, security, and home entertainment, among others. Fitness trackers like Fitbits are an example of a BLE-enabled device.
Aftab’s book offers a theoretical introduction of BLE and its role in small distance communication. The book explores various software and hardware platforms available for development and implements a classic server/client project over Android. The book further talks about Bluetooth beacons, Bluetooth-Internet gateways, and Bluetooth mesh with practical projects.
“With the launch of Bluetooth 5, it is evident that the technology has a significant future,” says Aftab, a University of Victoria graduate with a master’s degree in applied science (computer engineering). “I wrote this book to empower anyone with the passion for software to explore Bluetooth without concerning too much about the hardware.” Carmanah uses Bluetooth Low Energy on Android to set up the EverGen, a new street light for Sol, the company’s outdoor lighting division. Aftab, in collaboration with his team, developed an EverGen App that enables a user to set up a light in a matter of minutes.
Carmanah has the capabilities to use the technology for similar purposes in other applications, such as the Telematics division, which also uses satellite connectivity to remotely monitor IoT-enabled devices from distances that Bluetooth technology isn’t designed to reach.
“Undoubtedly, the future is IoT and the technologies that go with it,” Aftab says. “Bluetooth Low Energy gave me a whole other perspective to develop new and exciting software. I would like to encourage everyone to explore software development with special focus on BLE. It is a world of infinite possibilities.”