Mister Beacon Episode #93
Inside Bluetooth 5.1 – Direction Finding and MoreJune 03, 2019
Think back to the days when we thought of Bluetooth as the connection between our wireless headphones, keyboards, and the audio systems in our cars. Today we know it as so much more. Bluetooth Low Energy brought to life a new array of connected device applications. Now we are just starting to see the huge potential Bluetooth has in location services. This week we hear from Ken Kolderup, VP of Marketing for the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the standards organization responsible for specification, qualification, and promotion of Bluetooth technology. We discuss the newest Bluetooth feature, Direction Finding, and how it is transforming our expectations of what location services Bluetooth can provide. We are moving from simple proximity detection to real time sub meter positioning. This new standard is enhancing the level of accuracy that can be achieved. For example, in manufacturing, we can go from knowing that a pallet is ‘present’ in a building, to knowing which pallet is which and exactly where it is in a crowded warehouse. Listen in to learn the difference between the two different methods of direction finding: Angle of Arrival (AoA) and Angle of Departure (AoD), as well as Ken’s insights on how this new feature will influence different industries.
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Steve Statler 0:16
So welcome back to the Mr. Beacon podcast. We are super excited, because this week we're interviewing Ken colder up, who's the Vice President of Marketing for the Bluetooth SIG. Ken, welcome to the show.
Ken Kolderup 0:31
Well, thank you for having me. Glad to be here. Well,
Steve Statler 0:34
We we are not the first person from the Bluetooth SIG. A lot of people don't even know that the SIG exists. They just I guess, think that Bluetooth miraculously appeared. But we've had Mark Powell, who the illustrious leader, talking about Bluetooth in the past. So anyone who wants to find out more about the SIG can go to that episode. And we've had Simon sloop, who, who chairs the mesh Working Group and some great sessions with that, this time, I'm really pleased that you've joined us because the SEC has got through another milestone with 5.1, the latest version of the Bluetooth standard. So I'm looking forward to hearing from you about what's in that so that our viewers and listeners can be smart about that and help help inform their conversations and their their plans based on what's happening in this really key standard. But for for those that haven't been as close as others, maybe you can just remind us a bit about what the Bluetooth SIG is. Because it's not Bluetooth isn't just a technology. It's a it's a community and an organization, isn't it?
Ken Kolderup 1:46
That's right. So as you may recall, last last year, we celebrated the 20th anniversary, in fact of the Bluetooth SIG. So yeah, it is a Bluetooth SIG Inc is one who I'm with is the company that is charged with kind of overseeing Bluetooth technology. And you know, we we, at the end of the day, we have three basic jobs that we're looking to do a specification for qualification and promotion. So first is to help evolve Bluetooth technology itself and continue to add capabilities to Bluetooth. And we do that actually, by facilitating the collaboration of our member companies to create new specs or to enhance the existing specifications. And that's the 34,000 member companies we have around the world. Now, obviously, a subset of that are really involved in day to day spec development. But that's probably one of our biggest charters is to go help drive the technology forward. The second is qualification. And there we're looking to help drive global product interoperability, you know Bluetooth brand stands for a lot of interoperability that that brand means that this product is going to work with that product. We have various programs to do that one of the biggest ones is we operate and maintain a product qualification program that people take their products through before they bring them to market. And again to help sure ensure global interoperability. The last is promotion. And that's that's my, my responsibility. And at the end of the day, that's about increasing the overall you know, awareness, understanding and understanding and most most of all the the ultimately the adoption of Bluetooth as a technology. So that's my area. We do classic communication stuff. So there's a team, it looks after events, and web and blog, and social and all kinds of programs to help push the Bluetooth story and message out there and forward. We have a market development team, which does a lot of very focused, more kind of business development efforts focused around really new Bluetooth technology and Bluetooth markets that we're trying to help grow and promote. And then we have a developer relations team that does a lot of direct touch with developers around the world. They do a lot of classic evangelism things. They speak at probably 100 events a year, do a lot of blog posting technical content, things like that. So that's, that's what we do.
Steve Statler 4:16
It's an amazing brand. And I want to come back to this and talk a bit about that. Because as a marketing person, I'm fascinated by how you're kind of managing this. This brand that has incredible equity is recognized all around the world. But I want to get into the meat of 5.1 and direction finding and really brief people on that first, so So yeah, 5.1 came out, like three months ago, I guess, January, how's it? How's it been received? And more importantly, what's in it?
Ken Kolderup 4:53
Let's start with what's in it. And then we'll talk about how the technology how when we release new capabilities, how it generally comes into the more arkit over a period of time. So 5.1 is actually the latest version of the Bluetooth core specification. So version 5.1. Bluetooth actually has over 100 different specifications. But people are probably most familiar with the core spec. And which defines the radio and a lot of the conductivity layer evolved involved with with Bluetooth technology. So version 5.1. And usually, we're on a cycle of every 18 months to 36 months releasing a new version of the core spec where we bring in new features and functions to Bluetooth. So version 5.1 came out in January of this year 2019. And the kind of the anchors new feature for that was something called radio direction finding, which you're very familiar with from some of the markets that you happen to participate in your yourself. There were some we can talk a little bit more about that. But there were some other capabilities. But there were really more, you know, minor, more minor enhancements to existing features. And it gets pretty low level esoteric stuff like enhancements to get caching, you know, for instance, randomization of channel indexing during advertisements and stuff like that, which we can get into if you if you'd like, but really the big key feature here is is direction finding. You would you want to go into that now
Steve Statler 6:25
I do. Yeah, I mean, it's it's just remarkable how far Bluetooth has come from basically replacing the cord between the keyboard and the device. And then you know, Bluetooth Low Energy came out and the the mesh functionality came out. And now this is really I think pushing you into significantly new territory. I mean, it's all leveraging this ubiquity of Bluetooth and the low cost and the massive volume. But tell us what, you know, what does direction finding me? And what are the what are the big building blocks within that? Yeah,
Ken Kolderup 7:03
you bring up something, it's a good discussion to have to lead right into that as your Bluetooth has evolved. You know, in most of time, when you mentioned Bluetooth to someone right now that kind of pointed there and say, Oh, that's that audio stuff. And that was our starting. And it is still today, you know, kind of our biggest device category with almost a billion units a year in Bluetooth audio. But as you mentioned, we got into Bluetooth low energy back in 2010, which really got into this low power data transfer, which whole started the whole connected device world. But the other interesting thing, which now leads into direction finding is when we launched Bluetooth low energy, there was another capability within low energy that helped stimulate a whole nother market and use case area for Bluetooth or solutionary. And that's in this whole location services. The fact that Bluetooth supported this kind of basic advertising broadcasting capability. A lot of our member companies got really creative with how you could use that as a way to now support a number of different kinds of location services, you know, pretty basic proximity ones where you can just use the Bluetooth radio to understand you know, the signal strength from the Bluetooth radio. So one device can understand how another, you know, approximately how close another device was. And that's what led to the whole beacon revolution, Mr. Beacon, yeah, know, whether it's beacons for point of interest Information Services, or its, you know, tile trackers and that kind of product that's used for personal item findings. So you can find your lost keys, people got really creative how you can use Bluetooth not just for connecting devices for audio or data transfer, but for for positioning and understanding where something is. And that's gone a long, long way for for the last four or five years, this whole location services market has grown quite quite rapidly, whether it is these kinds of more basic proximity systems where it's trying to understand if like a personal item finding or point of interest, information beacons. But there's also more sophisticated systems around true positioning systems, right real time locating systems, which are used for asset tracking in warehouses or hospitals or office buildings, or is used for more indoor positioning systems where it's wayfinding solutions to trying to do a kind of an indoor GPS for finding and helping people navigate their way through through shopping malls and office buildings and stadiums and so forth. So Bluetooth just using that basic kind of proximity capability has gotten Bluetooth very, very far in these location services. But I think a number of years back people realize that if you could also not only just use Bluetooth to understand how close things were, but added a capability called radio direction finding. You can now not only know nearby, but in which direction another Bluetooth device was.
Steve Statler 9:53
I think that's just to interrupt briefly I think. So you'll you're going to talk about why What we've got now is so much better than what we had. And I look at what's happened with Bluetooth beacons. And there's millions and millions of beacons that have been sold. But, and sometimes people are just delighted. But other times I think people have been frustrated, they, they kind of have this expectation that, that this is going to give them pinpoint navigation. And they'll be able to find the x and y of this last thing, and it hasn't always done that. So I really, I think that having a better solution to this is really going to make a big difference, because then people will be able to choose Oh, do I want proximity? You know, am I just verifying? Yes, I'm in the Apple Store? Well, you know, basically, signal strength and seeing a beacon is probably good enough for that. But I think those there's been a fundamental gap between people's expectations, and what we've been able to deliver in a really robust way in terms of direction finding, and RTLs. As in, where are those 1000 pallets in a warehouse down to the meter, you know, people don't want to I mean, sometimes people do want to just know is the pallet there. But fundamentally, there's a lot of times when, hey, I've got 5000 pallets, and I need to tell this one from that one and it and we've really struggled to do that. So so how does 5.1 solve those problems?
Ken Kolderup 11:23
That's right, exactly. So you as you, as you mentioned, Bluetooth or location services has come a long way. But the big, and many things couldn't be done today without bluetooth, but people want more. And it really comes down to certain things like the level of accuracy you can provide in an asset tracking system. Or wouldn't it be nice if that that little two asset tag I put on my keys can not only tell me that it's in the you know, it's in the house, or it's nearby, but actually in which direction it actually was. So there is absolutely room for improvement, for Bluetooth location services based on today's capability. And that's what direction finding allows you to do. So, you know, at its simplest, it's a very simple concept. All it is and it's a radio Friant finding as a as an as an approach or something like that has been around for a long, long, long time, right since the early last century. I mean, it was, like many things, it was used in military applications. First, where, you know, one guy is trying to understand where a radio signal coming from the enemy might be. So they build systems in order to try and understand and approximate the direction from which the radio signal is coming. It's the same basic concept that we've added now to Bluetooth, which is trying to have one Bluetooth device understand the direction from which the signal of another Bluetooth device is being transmitted. And we'll get into how that's done with antenna arrays and angle of arrival and angle departure. But that's the basic concept. So now not only with Bluetooth, you can understand that a device was kind of nearby, but now you can understand exactly which direction. Yeah, and that concept now allows those things, those services we talked about to get that next level of performance. So now that that that item finding tag personal property tagged in any other system can be developed. So my smartphone can tell me not only that it's nearby, but also in what direction and improve that experience. Or as you mentioned, there's an asset tracking system that is currently capable of when using Bluetooth to be able to track pallets or forklifts or whatever, on a real time basis with you know, a level of accuracy measured in meters, you know, one meter to 10 meters, depending on the number of locators that you might deploy and the makeup of of the facility. Now all of a sudden, by adding not direction finding where these locators can not only know when an asset is kind of how far away from each of the locators, but also in what direction, you can get to a much more a much greater level of accuracy of determined determining and calculating the actual position. So now instead of measuring in meters, you can measure the position within centimeters. I mean, not maybe one centimeter, but you can now measure it in centimeters.
Steve Statler 14:03
Yeah, I've seen that as we I think we've seen the demos, the Koopa foosball table, where they have the locator above the table, and they're tracking the guys on this, this table and the little ball. And that's all kind of based on angles. I mean, the thing that I think people, we've been able to kind of fake it with location by simply, this is hot, this is cold this this, this beacon is super close to this receiver, and it's far away from this receiver. And it's kind of fairly close to this one, therefore, this this beacon is here, but now, it seems like what we're going to be able to do is say Oh, this signal is coming in from between 13 and 14 degrees direction from this reference point. And that is just such a better basis for doing this. So what is so there's two aspects that I think really, you've done a very good job of So setting out the table of what's in here, if we double click, and we look at angle of arrival and angle of departure, can you give us a sense of what the difference is between those two things?
Ken Kolderup 15:14
That's right. So there's two kind of approaches to doing radio direction finding one is called angle of arrival. And the other is called angle of departure. And really, it has to do with with which devices is calculating the, you know, the, the signal direction? And am I trying to determine angle of arrival is, for instance, what's what maybe we should back up and say we have an in picture kind of a specific use case for each one. Yeah, angle of arrival is really are for those systems like asset tracking, where you have these locators that are in fixed positions throughout a facility that are listening for Bluetooth beacons or asset tags. And so then you have these transmitters that are constantly that are attached to little pallets to equipment as it goes throughout. And they're constantly transmitting out a signal. Now, these locators that are listening for those beacons can now not only kind of report back to a location engine that's calculating positions, hey, how far away the these asset tags may that it's tracking may happen to be, but now also in which direction. And so angle of arrival means that they're to determine that the direction of the signal, the the tag is propagating out a signal, and it's hitting an antenna array, which is now in the locator. And it's calculating that angle of the arrival of the signal across that antenna array is what is referred to about angle of arrival in determining the signal direction. So that's a very high level, the concept of angle angle of arrival. Now angle of departure, you flip that whole thing on its head, and it's a little bit conceptually harder to realize, but it is, but if you think about it in the way GPS systems work, that's probably the most closest analogy. Now instead of these beak of these locators being the ones that are receiving the signals from the tags, it's the roles are reversed. Now there are actually transmitters that are in fixed locations throughout a building. And maybe in GPS, you can think about those as the satellites that are that are up in the sky. Yeah. And now there's something like, think about Wayfinding in a in a mall, where you have an app on your phone, that's trying to help you navigate through that facility. So now the app on the phone is listening for the the these various signals coming from these various transmitters. And now these transmitters actually also have an antenna array, we can get into that whole discussion as well. But they're all transmitting. And so now the the it's the the angle of the arrival from those signals into the phone, which is now being calculated. So the phone is able to see the signals coming from the various locator beacons or like GPS satellites. And it's a based on what it seen for each of those signals. It now has intelligence that allows it to try and to be able to determine the direction from which that that transmitter is is coming from, okay. Arrival angle of departure angle of arrival is like asset tracking is the primary use case. And angle of departure, it's really more indoor positioning is like assistance like Wayfinding.
Steve Statler 18:21
So with my angle of departure enabled phone, that phone will have to support 5.1. But it won't need to have an antenna array on it'll be still a relatively low cost, radio antenna and and device. But it's just going to see, it's going to see a whole bunch of signals that are different phases or whatever coming from the, from this, this fixed located device. So so we're looking at, yeah, so we have a, so we have a locator device here, this one happens to be made by Koopa. And for those listening, it looks like a Frisbee. And so this has basically one radio but a 1010 I in it. And today it is it can receive a signal from a beacon that might be on a pallet or either hopefully in the future with Willie or it'll get a tag from something that's in a in someone's clothing or, or a package but anyway, it's receiving a beacon the beacons moving around. This isn't a fixed points and explain to me how the so this has one receive it's got multiple and and 10 i How is our does this get an angle? How does this return an angle to the location engine? When it sees this beacon? Is that Is there a
Ken Kolderup 19:49
I think what you're referring to now is is it more of an angle of arrival? angle of arrival? Yes. Yeah. Right. So so now I have an acid attack potentially one of your own Yeah, that is transmitting in a from a single antenna. So that A signal from that antenna is coming up, and then all of a sudden, it's now hitting the antenna array across, in that's it within the within the locator device, right. And that signal is actually as it crosses the various antenna, the all the devices also taking a IQ samples from each of the antenna at a very specific time. And as that signal is crossing all those antennas, it will actually the antennas will actually see a phased phase difference from that signal as it crosses those antenna, okay, use those samples then to put a lot of intelligence on top to then interpret and figure out which direction the signal is coming from.
Steve Statler 20:42
So I've got a dumb tag, it's just sending out one packet. And it's the oldest smarts are in this locator and then the locator engine that's looking at the difference in phases of the signal as it hits these different antenna pieces. And then I I confuse things. So let's go back to the thing we started off there, which was the, the when we flip it around. And so angle of departure. So in this case, I've got my phone, and this guy is actually starting to transmit. And so what does my phone see that allows the phone to figure out where the source of all of these signals is?
Ken Kolderup 21:24
That's right. So now there is a locator signal, a special kind of signal, it's not nothing too dramatic, but it's a special kind of signal is being transmitted, it's being sent from all of the antenna in the array, right. And so now the what the handsets gonna see is multiple signals coming essentially, from that device, yes, each of those antennas is transmitting. So all of those signals from that device are all gonna hit the single antenna in your phone at slightly different times. And as long as the phone also has kind of knowledge of the layout of the antenna in that device, it's then able to use that information says, Okay, here's all the signals I'm seeing coming from that device. And based on how I know the layout of the antennas in that device is I can then determine or estimate, you know, the direction from which that those signals are coming from.
Steve Statler 22:15
Okay, that's very good. I think you've done a marvelous job of explaining that. So I'm gonna throw in one other variation that hopefully it's not going to completely make everyone's head spin. But is there a scenario where you could have angle of arrival on our phone?
Ken Kolderup 22:31
Absolutely. And I think that's, you know, I'm very excited about those use cases, right? I think that's the one where I mentioned these personal item tracking tags, yes, I want to put something on my keys or my wallet or purse or whatever. Right now, the the phone which has a single antenna on it, not using direction, finding an AOA God, it only can use signal strength. So it can only determine where it is, it cannot understand what you know the direction unless you put an antenna array in this and it's able to then you know how that signal crossed those antenna and then determine the direction from which that signal is coming from. So applications like adding directional finding to add personal asset tracking can't be done until that or there's a lot of fun other applications like that are in beacons. So say I go into a place that has a lot of point of interest information beacons like a museum. So say there's a whole exhibit bunch of exhibits in this specific room, all of them have beacons on it. Right now, just based on proximity, my phone can wake up an app and it can say, hey, here's all the eight exhibits in this room that happened to have information about them with beacons, you know, which one do you want? And that's, that's great. It's a good experience. But now, if this had an antenna array with AOA in it, I could potentially just point my phone at a specific exhibit and all of a sudden, it could immediately just give me more information about that. So many, many fun use cases. Should the handset community decide to add AOA receiver functionality, if you will, into the handsets? I'd certainly love to see that happen.
Steve Statler 24:10
Yeah, yeah, it'd be interesting. I mean, if I was a big company that made handsets that really wanted to put some new features in that would make the new version useful, then this is something that I would put in there because I mean, the one of the use cases that I love is you're, you're in CVS or Walgreens or whatever, and you're trying to find you've been told I need this kind of Advil and there's, you know, it's not just one Advil, there's three different kinds of Advil, and you ask for help and they say it's on aisle three, but aisle three is got like 200 different boxes of pills. And if I can have a box of pills that had a Bluetooth tag associated with it, and I could use my phone and basically I'd punch it in and it's Advil pm or whatever, and it tells me where it is. That could just save a lot of time. Stress and time and it would be wonderful thing. So here's hoping they decided to do that what, you know, what's your prognosis on the likelihood of the handset guys doing that, because, you know, they all love new features. But that's, you know, it's a more complex device so presumably adds more costs. So that's, that's the downside of adding it.
Ken Kolderup 25:21
While these devices are, you know, every year getting more and more complex, if you think about the number of radios and and layouts of antenna on these devices, I certainly think it's, it's achievable. And it's and I think it's, these guys are driven by what they they believe are the ability to deliver new compelling uses and use cases to the consumer, I think this is this is one that I would certainly argue can reach the reach that that level and cross that, that cross across that line or bar or whatever you want to say. So I hope it gets there. But I've stopped trying to predict what those kinds of those companies, you know, will do. They've got a lot of things to accomplish, and a lot of things to do. But I think this is this is a good one
Steve Statler 26:01
very good. Well, more generally, how is this being accepted? Because this is this is a major thing. And it's not something you click your fingers and people download the new version of the software, and it's there, you've got infrastructure and infrastructure is notoriously hard. I do know from my experience, what a I'm bullish. So I'm gonna I'm not being a independent interviewer, I'm afraid but because I have seen, you know, other companies other than these guys from Finland, they're working on this stuff. And so I know that there's hardware coming, but it's going to take a while I think what's what's your general commentary on how 5.1 direction finding angle of arrival angle of departure is, is being accepted by the developer? By the device community?
Ken Kolderup 26:55
Yeah, a couple of ways. I think I'd look at that. One is, they'll cover second, which is generally how when Bluetooth releases a new capability, that kind of path that needs to to go through in order to ultimately get into the to the end market, which is a pretty prescribed kind of approach. But one of the things that as you mentioned, why I'm also happened to be bullish is two things. One is the the market proof that there's an appetite for this, this kind of thing, right? Just in general, we know location services are just growing. In every forecast I see for Bluetooth base location services continuing to grow dramatically, whether it's the more simple proximity systems or the more sophisticated positioning systems like asset tracking and Location Services, the demand from the consumers, whether it's true consumers or businesses looking to do things seems to continue to be high. So that's, that's a good indicator that this the pieces are in place. The other one and and this happens a lot with with Bluetooth technologies is before a new capability gets into the standard. Often, our member companies will do pre standard versions of it are proprietary implementations of a capability. That happened in almost every time we release something new that happens. And that's the case here, as you mentioned, Koopa found them there's some other companies and many member companies that have added added the ability to do radio direction finding using Bluetooth before we actually got into the standards. What that does for me is it actually I think there's a lot of learning that goes on in the process. And so they can bring that in when we standardize to make sure that it's done correctly. And it also gets a lot of that any of the technical risk out of it. So we're not releasing something new that we don't know whether it's really going to work in the real world. I mean, we know radio direction finding using Bluetooth based on what Koopa and others are seeing is, is delivering very good results. So they kind of takes that risk out of the equation. So then it really comes to well, okay, great. So the demand is there. And technically we know what's gonna work, it really gets to the to the process, as you said, of Gavin and getting the technology into the infrastructure and Bluetooth, the way it works is, you know, the 5.1 is the core radio spec, this requires radio changes. So that means the whole silicon community, they need to get their their chips, done the stacks that go along with that need to get done, that needs to feed into the module community that then feeds into the product development community. So there's a kind of this, there's this ecosystem chain that needs to get worked through before products actually get into the end market. So I think that we're working through that right now. I think you're if you're tracking it, there's a lot of the silicon guys are now announcing their support if they haven't already for direction finding feature in their products. So some of their chips are now coming with that capability. So that's the first step. And that's good. And I hope to start seeing some of the next steps over the next throughout the rest of this year really about the module suppliers and then ultimately and product developers doing this. Now on that last one, I would probably start to see expect to see some of the more commercial use cases for the technology coming to market before that Consumer ones, like you mentioned, the consumer ones are a lot of them are driven by what the handset guy is doing. And that that just takes takes longer. But there's more commercial use cases like asset tracking, tracking where the handsets not necessarily involved, it's more of a, like a locator, like you just showed a few minutes ago from like Koopa. And the tags themselves, which really, there's there, there's no, no big change of the stand from the pre standard to this standard variation. They're just, you know, the nature of the signal you transmit, but the underlying capability is still the same. So I think in that market, I'm hoping that we'll start to see some actual commercial deployments sooner rather than later there.
Steve Statler 30:39
Yeah, I think this is going to change the way manufacturing and warehousing is done. I mean, in the past, and I say that having kind of seen a project from kind of conception, this idea to implementation using using this technology. Before I joined, joined Willie, I was an independent consultant. And I worked on a project that actually you guys featured when you launched the, the standard for for NGK ceramics, amazing Japanese car parts manufacturer. And I remember the head of technology, really smart guy called me in, you saw the book, the beacon technologies book called me in and basically, we kind of thought about how are we going to track 1000s of pallets in this massive manufacturing environment with a lot of metal and furnaces and hot as Hades in the summer, it's just a very challenging environment. And we did a full kind of spec of what we needed the system to do. And we hadn't made our mind up that it was going to be Bluetooth, I was kind of we were interested in Ultra wideband. So we actually solicited proposals from a whole bunch of ultra wideband companies, some well established ones and some new ones. And we found, like the ultra wideband was, a lot of it was just incredibly expensive. And the and, you know, the battery life was not was not terribly good. But there was some other strengths they had, I mean, very good fidelity. But But But literally, in some cases, our our bids were 10 times what the Bluetooth bids were. And then we got a range of Bluetooth bids. And some of them were, you know, the classic trilateration signal strength approach to assets. And the problem there was we had just to see locators, because, you know, it's tough when you're measuring signal strength to figure out where the thing is, it was still a lot cheaper, but the infrastructure was, it wasn't just the cost, it was just having so much of it there. And the thing about, you know, Cooper one of the day because we didn't need very many of these things, they could be way up in the rafters, and they look kind of cool. You know, it's like, I feel proud to introduce this So, and then we bought it in, we put it through its paces, and we were able to literally draw a line on the factory floor. And you know, my job was okay, you ran the RFP, who won, let's make sure this does it. And so I was like, kind of nervous. But I got one of the tags and and I literally stood on one side of the line walked on the other side of the line and you know, part of the use cases there, the the flow of production can't go backwards. If it does, then bad things really bad things happen. And we were literally able to dance one side of the line the other side of the line and, and the system knew where the where the tag was. But the last thing I'll say about this, which I don't think hopefully the NGK folks will object to the the Head of Technology did a really good job of calculating the ROI. And it was significant to justify this project. But the thing that was really, it was a human factor of because we kind of did the proof of concepts. And we needed the these guys, Japanese manufacturers very kind of demanding, and they wanted to see the system operating. And so what the team did is they put tags on the robots that move the pallets around in the factory. And so showing the executive team this screen, where you see all of the assets moving around in real time was like, Man, this is sold, you know, it was the that was it became clear that this is something big, and it's something new and it's going to change the way manufacturing is done because in the past it's kind of been a black box, the stuff comes in the back and it comes out the front and what happens in the middle is you know, who knows and things get lost or you just takes a while also locate them. But if we can tag the raw materials, the you know, the work in progress, the finished product, the tools, the people, and we can see all this stuff moving around. And that's fundamentally going to change the way we, we manufacture things. And it'll give companies that adopted a real edge. And so So I think this is very timely, and I think people are going to catch on, there's going to be a lot of choices and Cooper have got a great lead, and they they'll, they'll have other competition, which will drive them to perform. And so I think it's going to be a really amazing thing. And I'm excited that were part of it.
Ken Kolderup 35:39
You did touch on one thing there, if you wouldn't mind, you brought up that there are other certainly, for something like asset tracking, there are alternative technologies that are currently available for doing that, that provide various levels of accuracy, or various cost profiles and so forth. But that's the one thing that with with the addition of direction finding, which really, I think now is may bring some significant advantages for Bluetooth versus alternative technologies that could be used for this. And that is the flexibility that comes with Bluetooth. Now if you want to so so the cost is always low. But now you can design a system, whether it's whether you want an accuracy that's measured in meters, or you want an accuracy measured in centimeters, or you want a facility where one part is measured in meters, and another part is measured in centimeters. I mean, that's all now your Bluetooth allows for that, that flexibility to allow you to design the system that you want. It's not an all or nothing expensive system or Absolutely, or something that can't get to the level of accuracy you want. It gives you that flexibility.
Steve Statler 36:39
Absolutely, I think that's really important. The moment we've kind of had a limited set of tools in the toolbox, we've kind of had a hammer, we've had a sore, but we've really been missing a screwdriver. And I feel like this is like this gives us the full set of tools. And we can choose the right tool for the right job. And they all work together. And so I think it's going to be very good. So you know what next, the 5.1? Is out the first version of angle of arrival angle of departure are out, is it done? Or is there a more work to do?
Ken Kolderup 37:10
Was specific to direction finding, I guess a couple of ways to answer that is first of all the Bluetooth community and actually never stand still, we can't you know that they're always trying to improve the technology to kind of meet better meet existing use cases or address new use cases, specific to the direction finding capability. What actually got added in 5.1 is the that's the core spec again. So that defines how the radio behaves. So that defines the ability for higher level applications to be able to get, you know, IQ samples off of the antennas to be able to then go calculate, you know, signal direction. But for two products to actually work and using Bluetooth radios, that's where pro Bluetooth Profiles come in. So that defines exactly how how people you know, implement the product so that we know that they're going to work together. So there are actually a couple of profiles are under development right now for direction finding one specific to the asset tracking scenario. And one that's more specific to the indoor positioning kind of wayfinding scenario. So those are still in development right now. And and we hope to see those those completing here and then in the near future. But the the the other thing is specific to to Bluetooth as a location services technology. As I said, there's still work going on, that's going to be a little longer term, but it will even just as exciting in my mind is the introduction of direction finding. So not only it ultimately are you going to able to understand the proximity, and also direction. But what about distance? I mean, I think so there, I think there are things in the works. So it'd be nice to continue to add, as you say, tools to the tool chest for developers to continue to improve the performance of of theirs solution that uses Bluetooth technology and for location services. You know, when we added direction finding that was the first true kind of positioning capability added to Bluetooth explicit positioning capability. And I think there's a, there's a lot of appetite and roadmap for it to continue to add more. So I'm hoping that that will happen too.
Steve Statler 39:15
So so we got distance on the horizon. But go back to those profiles. Can you explain a bit more about what's what do we get from the profiles that we don't have today?
Ken Kolderup 39:28
Well, it's profiles really are what's going to ensure true interoperability between two devices so you can devoutly use the Bluetooth 5.1 right now to create a system to do direction finding, but profiles get down to the level of detail of expense. Exactly saying exactly. Here's how of all the knobs we give you to twiddle here's exactly how you should twiddle if you want to be able to have this product work with that product. So and that's where so for instance, I think before the handset guys will Got a an AOA radio, antenna array and AOA capabilities, they need to ensure that any tag that is developed is going to be able to work with what they do. So, I mean, that's the profiles are really we get down to the specificity of exactly what you do to make sure that interoperable is going to be working between two products, you can do it beforehand, but it ends up being part of more closed systems before they can become truly open and enable multi vendor interoperability.
Steve Statler 40:32
Okay, so we're likely to see a bunch of systems new angle of arrival systems angle of departure systems that weren't there before. It'll deliver some great functionality. But to get to that true interoperability, different tags working with different locators, then we need the profiles to
Ken Kolderup 40:52
Help ensure that
Steve Statler 40:53
Yeah, very good. Okay, I think we've covered a lot, just in terms of other future stuff, any, anything you want to say on other aspects outside of direction finding, like mesh, and so forth. What's that? Yeah,
Ken Kolderup 41:10
You touched on a couple of things every now and then Bluetooth adds a whole new function and capability like mesh was something that we added a couple of years ago. And that's to enable a whole new category of control systems automation systems that really have where you have these complex device networks of 10s, hundreds or 1000s of things that need to be able to talk to each other. So that was a whole new thing. But But again, the community doesn't sit still and rest on its laurels. It's continually looking to add up its game and make sure it's satisfied market demands in the markets that it's already in. So for location services, we had a direction finding, right, so that came up in mesh, there are some exciting new capabilities that are coming there. I think the one that it we haven't talked a lot about in details, but it's not a secret is Bluetooth audio. So Bluetooth audio has been a mainstay for, for for Bluetooth technology. And it's doing a lot of amazing things. But I think the community was really looking to set up Bluetooth audio for the next 20 years to be a leader there. So some really, really exciting things coming in Bluetooth audio here in the hopefully not too distant future, that will really set it up really well to enable a whole new round of innovation in audio using the Bluetooth radio.
Steve Statler 42:25
So that's great to get that preview. Some insights was coming i We promised to talk a bit about the marketing thing, we're probably reaching the end of most people's attention spans, but I did want to ask you about your role. I mean, you've you have an incredible asset that you were with, which is the Bluetooth brand. Can you just give us a sense of how significant a brand it is? And then I want to ask you, you know what you do with that, given that you have this brand? That's so well recognized?
Ken Kolderup 42:57
Yeah, it's funny, I think you you'd sent me Hey, there's a couple things we may want to talk about, like what's easiest in the job and what's hard. Yeah. And for me, the brand is a great discussion exactly on that point, because it is probably what makes life easiest as well as hardest. Because it is a such a well known brand. I mean, one of our charters is to increase the awareness and understanding and adoption. Awareness is really, really high. I think we have market studies that show that we are well into the 90s of consumer awareness of the Bluetooth brand. So awareness at that level is is not not a challenge. Yeah.
Steve Statler 43:31
So you're up there with Coke and stuff like that, in terms of people know what they recognize Bluetooth.
Ken Kolderup 43:37
It is one of the biggest global brands that are out there. Well well aware of now understanding is the difference thing, right? So I think that everyone knows Bluetooth has been has really knows it for where we started, which is as an audio technology as an audio standard for consumer products. Now where our growth is, and where we've been spending a lot of time in the last, you know, 10 years is Bluetooth has now expanded into many, many commercial and industrial use cases. And there the brand is it can also present a challenge for us. So people think about Bluetooth as a consumer technology. And so we're evangelizing and getting a raw version of Bluetooth now in many, many commercial industrial environments. But there's a hurdle there because people think about it in their own personal way, which is all that says the consumer technology, they don't realize that Bluetooth is probably one of the most robust, reliable low power wireless technologies. I mean, it's it's powering factories out there. There are sensors all over big robots and machines around, you know, in factories around the world are helping with predictive maintenance and so forth. It is an incredibly reliable radio. But people understanding that and getting over that hurdle in some of these new emerging markets with the Bluetooth brand is what we're where we're where we face some of our biggest challenges and helping to expand what people think about the brand. And what it means that it's not just consumers think it's incredibly consumer thing. But it's also an incredible technology for these more industrial and commercial environments as well. And that's a lot of our energy goes to, to getting people to appreciate the and understand the technology in there and perceive it have a really good perception of the technology and those those markets.
Steve Statler 45:20
Yeah, well, I think a lot of the things that have been developed in the consumer space that people get and recognize intuitively that it's affordable, that it's interoperable, those are valuable in the enterprise space as well. And I think I think you've done a great job in this session and helping us to understand a bit more about what those broader applications can be so So Ken, thanks very much for coming on the, on the podcast and explaining a bit about 5.1 What we can do with it, where things are headed. It's been great.
Ken Kolderup 45:55
I've really enjoyed it. And again, thank you for having me on the show.
Steve Statler 46:03
So what are the three songs that you would take with you on a very long trip?
Ken Kolderup 46:08
Well, you said, I think your question was what and why? Yeah, yeah, I'll actually start with the why and then I'll get to the what
Steve Statler 46:15
Ken Kolderup 46:16
So you know, my deep thought here, right? Yeah, I was thinking I'd want one song to help get me pumped, energized you know, get going in the morning kind of thing. I'd want you one song that would help me mellow out, you know, what do you want to do in the evening and get ready to wind down type of song. And then one song that's much more kind of emotional and remind me of home it has other other meaning to it potentially. So those are the three things I was going for. So the first one you have lots of choices for getting pumped up. I ended up on probably a lot of people do Bohemian Rhapsody. It's a song that you know, never ceases to entertain me I can sit there and dance around and sing and whatever. And so for me that's reasonably
Steve Statler 47:02
Long so you got value for your money that Yes, sir.
Ken Kolderup 47:05
That's right. And that was actually finding the second one. So what's the mellow out song and I was thinking of some longer Floyd song or something like like that. But ultimately, I ended up on Hotel California from the Eagles love it. Eagles fan in general, that whole album and everything else and that's another one.
Steve Statler 47:24
You have you have you seen them? Have you had a chance to never live
Ken Kolderup 47:27
After all these years? I believe it's one that got away but and for the last one. Louis Armstrong's what a wonderful world. Talk to remind me of home and has other emotional reasons for me and never never ceases to bring a tear to the eye. So that's a good one for me.
Steve Statler 47:48
Fantastic. Those are great songs. I'd be happy to have your songs as my song. So a good choice in my opinion.