Apptricity's I-Connect Beacons Claim a Bluetooth Record, Transmitting Over a 23 Mile Range

Positioned as a lower-cost alternative to LTE and satellite asset tracking, the beacon tunes its radio signal like a "laser beam."

An asset-tracking startup claims it can boost the range of Bluetooth signals beyond 23 miles (38 kilometers) — and it's positioning the technology as an alternative to cellular systems for long-distance tracking and sensor networks.

Bluetooth is an incredibly useful and, thanks to mobile phones, ubiquitous technology. It is also a very short-range technology, used typically for line-of-sight communication to everything from input devices to headphones. Apptricity, though, boasts it can use Bluetooth as a replacement for long-range asset tracking systems with an implementation capable of receiving signals over a distance of 23 miles (38 kilometres.)

“Our new 20-Mile Ultra Range Bluetooth is a significant technology breakthrough," says Apptricity's Tim Garcia of the technology. "Many of our global customers were struggling with the range and costs of connecting most of their IoT assets, so I challenged our engineers to develop a lower cost Bluetooth tracking solution that could cover at least 10 miles. They exceeded expectations. We were able to pick up the signal from over 20 miles, and are working with our engineers to see how much further we can take this technology."

Exactly how the technology works hasn't been revealed, though in an interview with IEEE Spectrum Garcia claimed it is based on "the same principle as a tightly-focused laser beam": Precise tuning within Bluetooth's radio-frequency spectrum which boosts the range without consuming excess power.

Apptricity's first product based around the technology is its I-Connect Ultra Long-Range Beacon, which it claims offers a total cost of ownership (TCO) some 90 percent lower than rival solutions based on subscription-bearing LTE cellular and satellite communications systems.

More information is available on the company's website, though without pricing details.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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