Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Bluetooth Smart is a WPAN technology which was launched based on the Bluetooth v4.0 specifications introduced first in 2010. The speciality of the BLE protocol lies in its consumption of minimal amount of power from the device in which it is integrated. According to a recent market study from IndustryARC a robust demand for BLE facilitated by its rapid penetration into electronic devices will ensure the market revenues reach $10.1 bn in 2020 growing at 22.4% during the forecast period.

Bluetooth Low Energy is an open protocol for short-range wireless communications between devices. It was first introduced by Nokia as an alternative during the early stages of 802.15.4 standard development under the proprietary name of Bluelite. Bluetooth SIG launched updated Bluetooth v4.1 in December, 2013. This version was significant for laying the framework for Internet Protocol based connectivity to enable Internet of Things (IoT) in Bluetooth along with increased support for co-existence of bulk data exchange rates, device development innovation and Long-Term Evolution (LTE). The recent update includes the addition of Internet Protocol Support Profile (IPSP) and was launched as Bluetooth v4.2 in December, 2014. IPSP is notable for enabling IPv6 connectivity for Bluetooth devices.

The ability of the BLE protocol to establish a simple wireless connectivity to master devices such as tablets, smartphones and many other hub devices has enabled new innovations in several markets including smartphones appcessory, automotive, computer peripherals, wearable electronic gadgets and many others. BLE had highest penetration rate in the smartphones sector followed by personal computers and its accessories in 2014. By the end of 2020, innovations in development of low-powered wireless devices are projected to create wearable electronic devices and home entertainment systems in turn becoming the leading contributor to the global BLE market. According to IndustryARC Analysis, the BLE enabled devices shipments is forecast to increase from 1.8 billion units in 2014 to 8.4 billion units by 2020 at a CAGR of 29%.

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The significant factor driving the growth of BLE will be the surge in the number of interconnected objects via internet, commonly known as Internet of Things (IoT). The concept of IoT is aimed at connecting every unconnected thing including people and machine to form interconnecting networks such as machine-to-machine (M2M), machine-to-people (M2P) and people-to-people (P2P) using sensors. These sensors have the ability to form wireless connections through several technologies such as RFID, NFC, Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Zigbee and so on. The ratification of Bluetooth v4.2 in December, 2014 facilitated Bluetooth Smart sensors connectivity directly to Internet via IPv6/ 6LoWPAN. BLE based devices can utilize the existing IP infrastructure for internet connectivity that will be stimulating their market further particularly in the IoT environment that require both personal and wide area control.

The other remarkable factor advancing Bluetooth Low Energy into the mainstream market is the surge in ‘crowd funding’ for companies with valuable ideas on how wireless connectivity can enhance the product. This has facilitated the ‘maker’ movement consisting of amateur engineers and keen hobbyists who are excited about evolving unique Bluetooth Low Energy applications, thereby accelerating the overall market. All the major Bluetooth Low Energy chip manufacturing companies such as Freescale Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, Nordic Semiconductor and Cambridge Silicon Radio are offering reference design/ development kits for developing wireless application instantly without expertise on radio frequency (RF) antenna connectivity.

Currently Americas is the largest market followed by APAC and then Europe according to insights from IndustryARC. Asia Pacific would be experiencing a high growth rate of 32.4% compared to other geographic regions during the forecast period.

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