Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) beacons have been deployed in the market for several years now and have become a leading technology choice for proximity-aware applications. The low power and simplicity of BLE, coupled with its ubiquitous use in smartphones, make low-cost, battery-powered beacons achievable and enables the broad adoption of beacons for location-based services embedded in smartphone apps.
Until now, BLE beacons relied on the structure of advertising packets originally defined in Bluetooth v4.0, stuffing beacon content into a limited 31-byte payload. Bluetooth 5 introduced several major enhancements for BLE, including new PHY layers and Advertising Extensions. These enhancements add significantly more functionality and flexibility to the advertising mechanisms, including much larger advertising packet capacity.
In this paper, we lightly review beacon basics and then discuss these new Bluetooth 5 features and how they enable second-generation beacons with fuller, richer content.