When it comes to short range wireless devices, Bluetooth is a wireless technology that has boomed in recent years. 9 out of 10 speakers include Bluetooth technology, and it is predicted that 2 out of 3 cars will use Bluetooth technology by 2024. Its ability to stream high throughput data without a detriment to power efficiency has made it highly accessible to designers. That said, there are key integration factors that need to be considered to realise the full potential of Bluetooth’s capabilities.
What are the types of Bluetooth technology?
Bluetooth is a wireless communication for data transfer via creating local area networks over short distances between two devices. It specialises in high bandwidth applications without affecting power consumption. Because of this, it operates within the 2.4GHz frequency band, striking a balance between short range and high data throughput. Since its introduction, it has become one of the most used wireless technologies for IoT applications due to its properties of low power consumption, multiple-device connection, and low interference for short range connections.
Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE)
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) offers improved efficiency features instead of a focus on throughput, providing better integration for small battery capacity devices. BLE specialises in data transfer with better power consumption and device efficiency, whereas standard/classic Bluetooth is focused on throughput demanding applications such as audio. Its most recent specification, Bluetooth 5.3, introduced further efficiency features such as periodic advertising and channel classification enhancements. The trade off, however, is that BLE cannot be used for devices that require the higher throughput and bandwidth of classic Bluetooth.
What are the desired features of Bluetooth antennas?
A defining feature of Bluetooth that has made it so widespread across devices is its power efficiency. It enables the use of wireless high-bandwidth streaming that would otherwise have a significant impact on device battery life with other wireless technologies. As such, high efficiency Bluetooth antennas are required to provide sufficient connectivity and longevity for different applications.
Due to its high-bandwidth capabilities within short-ranges, Bluetooth is often used for compact designs such as smart home IoTs and wearable devices. Because of this, Bluetooth chip antennas need to be compact in terms of both size and form factor. Not only does this help reduce the size of the design, but saves valuable PCB space for other integral components.
Ease of integration
There are a range of designs that utilise Bluetooth connectivity, from miniature sensors to complex smart home devices. Each has differing integration hurdles, such as component noise, frequency of transmitted data, and limited PCB/internal space. Because of this, designers require easy to integrate Bluetooth antennas that suit specific designs - this includes a range of antenna types.
What are the types of Bluetooth antennas?
Surface mounted antennas (SMD) are a form of embedded antenna that is mounted directly onto the host PCB alongside other components. SMD chip antennas are simple to integrate with low part cost and compact size, as well as being suitable for high-volume manufacturing using pick-and-place machinery. For Bluetooth devices, these enable simple integration and manufacturing for compact devices.
Flexible printed circuit (FPC) and PCB antennas have their own ground plane on the antenna, along with an adhesive strip that can be placed on the inside of the product housing. FPC antennas are unique in that their surface is malleable, allowing them to be placed on curved surfaces. This solves ground plane and interference complications through being placed away from PCB components. For standard and curved Bluetooth devices with limited PCB space, PCB/FPC solutions are perfect.
Ceramic chip antennas are amongst the smallest available, often exhibiting sub-millimetre dimensions. This is because they do not have their own ground plane like SMD antennas, and instead require dedicated ground plane space on the PCB itself. Ceramic antennas need to be integrated in the early stage of device design, as not only do they need ground plane space, but they often need to be at the centre of the PCB (where the most important processing chips usually are). Nevertheless, the extremely low profile of ceramic bluetooth antennas can be invaluable to very small Bluetooth device designs.
Find the perfect Bluetooth antenna solution for your device
The wireless solution for Bluetooth devices defines the overall functionality of the device. Whether it is a household IoT design, digital key replacement for automotive designs, or smart home devices, they all need a specific antenna that suits their integration needs.
At Antenova, we offer a range of Bluetooth antennas that consist of different types, dimensions and efficiencies. With the help of our thorough Integration Hub, you can find the perfect antenna solution that suits the needs of your Bluetooth device.
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