(Book Review) Getting Started with Bluetooth Low Energy
Updated: Mar 19, 2018
In 2010, Nokia introduced the Bluetooth Low Energy, BLE (Bluetooth version 4) for very low power radio communication. With more recently Bluetooth version 5, many big vendors like Apple has adapted the BLE technology, making it one of the fast adaption technology in recent years.
There are two main reasons that BLE is very important for Embedded Engineers.
First, due to its low power characteristic, and high adoption rate, it has enabled Embedded Engineers to design and create a Bluetooth enabled systems that can talk to any modern mobile devices.
Second, with under $2, you can get a System-on-Chip with microcontroller and Bluetooth radio, making it an attractive option for low budget startups to access big markets with their innovative products.
Therefore, for those reasons and many other benefits of BLE, in this month’s book review, we will take a close look at a book called, “Getting started with Bluetooth low energy” hoping to show the path for those who are interested in the topic.
I, personally, would divide the book in two main parts. Part one, where theoretical part and important information about the BLE specification and protocols have been covered and part two, coding and technical side have been addressed.
If you don’t have a previous experience with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), first part of the book is a great place to start learning. I know that it may be a bit boring since it’s only theoretical matters. But there are important information that you should know when you are designing the software of your system. Protocols and structures are artfully being put together in one place that is easy to read and you get all the necessary information in one place.
I insist, knowing this theoretical part is very important since it would directly reflect on your code and software design.
Chapters are laid out like this:
Chapter 1. Introduction: will give a background and starting point information
Chapter 2. Protocol Basic: Will give you basic idea about specification and protocol
Chapter 3. GAP: Will talk about Advertising and Connection in BLE
Chapter 4. GATT: Will talk about Attributes, Services and Characteristic in BLE.
(Think of Services and Characteristic as data structure rules that you should follow to send data, names may be misleading and confusing, but in my experience, they are easy to understand)
Chapter 5. Hardware Platform: will examine different hardware platform that is available for BLE development.
If you are a mobile app developer or you want to do a mobile app along side of your embedded code, you may find useful information here. Also, if you are very beginner embedded software developer, you may also find interesting materials . But generally, I suggest to go through the second part of the book fast and read the materials that you find important.
There are two main reasons supporting my suggestion:
First, the book has been published in 2014, so the coding example may be outdated. The iOS examples use Objective C not Swift, and there have been many changes in iOS development since then (with that been said, coding principles are still useful in chapters).
Second, I believe the BLE manufacturers have better tutorials regarding the coding and software design (on condition that you understand the protocols and theoretical stuff). I have used the NordicSemicanductior BLE chip and they have great deal of coding examples and tutorials in their website.
Remaining chapters are structured as follow:
Chapter 6. Debugging Tools.
Chapter 7. Application Design Tools.
This two chapters are about the tools that you better to have and use while developing a BLE application.
Chapter 8. Android Programming:
Chapter 9. iOS Programming
Chapter 20. Embedded Application Design
It’s a great book and worth reading. I put this book as Good-To-Have category. You may find all the information online but having all the important information in one place with such structure is worth it. I highly suggest reading the first part to get to know the BLE. And for the second part, you may find online resources that are better, therefore I suggest using online resources, especially from chipset manufacturers, alongside the book.
The book ("Getting Started With Bluetooth Low Energy") on Amazon:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2FJD6uv
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2tX1Jyj
To read other reviews and more about my book recommendation, please check my book club:
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