Bluetooth 5 and NFC for IoT: Now available on Particle third generation devices

Traditionally, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is used in the connected home or with wearables where low data rates and long battery life are key. Beyond these popular use cases, the potential of BLE in industrial and scalable IoT products is enormous. With these short-range wireless technologies, you can enable your field technicians with fast local diagnostics or retrofit existing Bluetooth sensors and equipment with a route to the cloud, extending your product’s lifetime.

Today, we’re releasing support for BLE and NFC firmware APIs in beta on all Particle third generation hardware — including the Argon, Boron, and Xenon. We believe this will enable developers like you to build more robust IoT products while reducing service costs and providing exceptional customer experiences.

Read below to learn how to leverage these new capabilities or jump ahead to the documentation on BLE and NFC.

Designed for low-power, optimized for data transfer

With new Wiring APIs for both BLE and NFC, you can now create Particle applications that interact with mobile devices, integrate with off-the-shelf BLE sensors and peripherals, and other Particle BLE accessories. Plus, BLE and NFC complement one another and offer low-power, low-latency communication — getting your critical data where it needs to be without wasting time or money.

Now you can build these new features into your IoT products that create a more powerful experience for the products’ end users while maximizing battery life and reducing device-to-device communications latency. Some examples include:

  • Empower your field technicians with the diagnostics information they need. When service calls happen, your team will have the critical information they need to make the right repair on the first visit. Here’s how to share data from Particle Gen 3 devices using Bluetooth or NFC.
  • Efficiently retrofit off-the-shelf Bluetooth devices to seamlessly integrate with the Particle Device Cloud. Don’t build custom sensors. Smartly integrate with existing solutions — here’s how.
  • Give devices without a display the ability to share key data over NFC. Customers to tap a device with their phone when it presents an LED error code and the appropriate instructions or troubleshooting resource web page loads.
  • Turn your IoT product into an iBeacon to send a helpful notification to your customers within a geofenced area. Like sending a consumer a promotion to ride a nearby electric scooter share.

Getting started with Particle BLE and NFC

These new features are accessible now on the Argon, Boron, and Xenon development kits on the latest Device OS 1.3.0 release.

The latest Device OS 1.3.0 release will include:

  • Support for Bluetooth central, peripheral, broadcaster and observer roles
  • Support for multi-roles such as a device functioning as a central and peripheral device simultaneously
  • Support for multi-links such i.e. support for multiple central connections to a peripheral at once (future support for three central links to one peripheral with general availability)
  • Bluetooth 5.0 improved features including increased datarate of 2Mbps, long range mode of 500kbps and 125kbps, an 8x improvement in broadcast capability with advertising extensions
  • Improved channel selection algorithm (CSA #2) which enables better channel coordination and coexistence efficiency with other Bluetooth and non-Bluetooth traffic

Note, to leverage NFC features all development kits will require the NFC Antenna.

Read our new BLE tutorials here and our API reference documentation here. Update your Device OS to 1.3.0 in the Web IDE, Console, or CLI to get access to BLE and NFC APIs.

We’re excited to see what you can do with these new tools for your IoT product!

Author Bio

Will is the General Manager of Particle's developer tools team. He oversees the manufacturing of our development kits as well as software development for our IDEs, SDKs, and complete development experience.