Types of Bluetooth Gateways on the Market in 2024

Getting the proper Bluetooth gateway can be tricky because these edge computing devices are available in different types in the market. Even if you’re well versed in IoT hardware technologies, the gateways in the market have diverse specifications that might confuse you into picking one that is not the most optimal for your IoT solution.
bluetooth gateway architecture
Table of Contents

In this article, we’ll look at these different Bluetooth gateway types and their classifications, and also give you a guide of what to look for to help you narrow it down to the most ideal IoT gateway to deploy to your customers. Let’s get right into it!

Indoor Bluetooth Gateways

Indoor gateways are commonly used in smart building solutions like smart homes, retails stores, shopping malls, and offices.

smart zigbee gateway

These gateways have a short range because they have integrated antennas. However, it is possible to enhance their performance and range by designing the circuit to have an extra power amplifier and a FEM module. This modification can help improve the gateway’s RF performance in buildings with multiple walls because these barriers weaken the 2.4GHz signal. Since GPS is not as effective indoors as it is outdoors, indoor gateways for positioning applications like asset tracking and employee monitoring use technologies like RSSI and BLE AoA.

Outdoor Bluetooth Gateways

The most notable exterior difference between indoor and outdoor gateways is the casing. Outdoor gateways must withstand the harsh environment outside, so their casing must be dust and waterproof. In most cases, these devices have metal cases rated at IP66 or higher.

Internally, outdoor gateways usually have more powerful CPUs because the circuits feature additional functions like 4G or 5G connectivity to transmit data to the cloud. Running ethernet cables or Wi-Fi to the edge computer might not be feasible.

Additionally, the gateway might support GPS, Glonass, QZSS, Galileo, or other satellite navigation systems for functions like geofencing, time synchronization, and location identification if there are emergencies. All these functions require additional processing power, which means the CPU must be more powerful than the one in indoor gateways.

The most common outdoor gateways are the LoRa type because they have a long-range for external installations. It is also possible to have a long-range BLE gateway that has a range of up to 1km to automate and monitor functions in farms and large fields or control drones.

dsgw 014 lorawan gateway outdoor

To enable this extended range, these devices must have external antennas to broadcast and receive the signal from as far out as possible.

Another notable difference is in the power supply. While indoor gateways have power plug adapters, the outdoor type relies on PoE.

Gateways designed for hazardous areas fall into this category because they have the same features, such as the impenetrable casing. The hazardous environment might be indoors, but the edge device will have the features of outdoor applications.

Bluetooth Gateway Types According To Bluetooth Chipsets 

Gateways with Silicon Lab BLE chipsets are compact because these SoCs are tiny. The DSGW-340, for instance, uses the EFR32BG24 SoC as an MCU and has a compact design that is suitable to carry around for wearable IoT solutions. These include coin tags for students and continuous glucose monitoring for medical projects. The gateway aggregates data from the sensors and sends it to the cloud.

working principle of lightweight dsgw 340 medical ble gateway

The other types classified according to chipsets include the following.

ESP32 BLE Gateways

An ESP32 BLE gateway like the DSGW-092 runs on FreeRTOS and features a BLE and Wi-Fi (2.4GHz) combo chip that lowers the overall cost of the device while increasing its features. The device is easily programmable even by beginners, and you can customize the firmware to suit any IoT solution for your customers. 

Nordic BLE Gateways

A Nordic BLE gateway, such as the DSGW-094, uses the nRF52840 as a microcontroller unit, which can support a multi-protocol setup. The device also has an optional LTE cat NB module that you can use as a backhaul to forward and receive data from the cloud. It is programmable as well, and you can install your firmware and manage upgrades throughout its service life.

Other Gateway Classifications

The BLE gateway classifications extend further into other categories, which include the following.

Industrial Bluetooth Gateways

Industrial or IIoT gateways provide a rugged networking platform that can operate under extreme conditions in industrial environments. These conditions include rapidly changing temperatures, humidity, vibrations, and radiation.

For those reasons, the gateways feature hard, explosion-proof enclosures with DIN rail mounting mechanisms for easy installation and removal.

These devices also have several wired connectivity options that enable data management from several sources. They include CAN, Ethernet, RS-485, and RS232.

dsgw 081 gateway
The Dusun DSGW-081 industrial gateway

In terms of computing power, these gateways have powerful chips to handle functions like BLE positioning for worker safety, asset tracking, and building virtual perimeters. They are also ideal for creating mesh networks for functions like lighting control in manufacturing centers (smart energy management).

Other applications include machine monitoring, the internet of vehicles, and smart agriculture.

Commercial Bluetooth Gateways

These gateways are optimally designed and built to support business applications in commercial buildings, retail stores, restaurants, warehouses, entertainment venues, etc.

Since they handle large spaces with multiple end nodes (BLE beacons, motion sensors, vibration sensors, thermostats, etc.), these devices usually have significantly higher edge computing power and storage capacities and support multiple wireless protocols.

The DSGW-210 fits this description and would make the perfect commercial gateway.

smart retail solution

Residential Bluetooth Gateways

Residential gateways only handle a handful of sub-devices in the home environment, such as sirens, thermostats, and electric curtains. Therefore, they don’t have to pack too much power, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a robust gateway like the DSGW-210 in your home automation IoT solution for future-proofing.

The DSGW-210 also supports ZigBee, Matter, and Z-Wave protocols, making it ideal for smart home IoT solutions. It has powerful edge processing capabilities as well, so you can automate functions and process data locally.

What To Consider When Picking Bluetooth Gateways?

Besides the BLE gateway type, you have to consider these factors to pick the most suitable edge computing device to use in your IoT solutions.

Bluetooth Versions

The core feature of a Bluetooth gateway is its Bluetooth wireless connectivity. So far, the Bluetooth SIG has released five versions of this wireless protocol, with Bluetooth 5.0 primarily focussing on IoT. Therefore, your gateway should run Bluetooth 5.0 at a minimum.

The SIG has released updates to this version over the years, with 5.1 adding features like AoA, AoD, and GATT caching. BLE 5.2 introduced LE power control and EATT (Enhanced Attribute Protocol), while 5.3 enhanced encryption key size control and introduced periodic advertisement intervals but removed alternate MAC and the PHY (AMP) extension.

BLE 5.4 is the latest update, and it adds features like advertising coding selection, encrypted advertising data, and LE GATT security levels characteristic.

You should check the capabilities of each update under version 5.0 to determine the best protocol for your IoT solution. For instance, your gateway should have at least BLE 5.1 to act as the hub in an asset positioning and personnel tracking solution.

Bluetooth Range

Bluetooth has a range of about 30 meters, but BLE only reaches 10 meters because it operates at low power levels. While this range is enough for indoor and some commercial and industrial applications, it is not enough for large outdoor projects like farm monitoring and automation.

remarkable bluetooth performance.jpg

Therefore, you should consider a BLE long-range gateway for such a project for your customers because this device can communicate with devices up to a kilometer away.

Bluetooth Gateway Chipset

Chips or SoCs from companies like ESP32, Rockchip, and Nordic have different properties that can affect the gateway’s performance.

For instance, Rockchip SoCs have multimedia processing capability, high operational frequencies and feature lightweight AI capabilities, which makes them ideal for running smart home systems.

On the other hand, NXP SoCs are better off for industrial IoT gateways, predictive maintenance, and condition monitoring.

Ready To Use or Ready for Productivization

Ready-to-use BLE gateways have the hardware and software integrated and ready for deployment. Although they reduce the time to market, you cannot program them, which limits the customization you can offer to your customers.

Gateways that are ready to productivize are better because you can customize the hardware, firmware, and software to develop unique IoT solutions for your clients.

Bluetooth Gateway Backhauls

Backhauls are the channels the data passes through to get to the cloud (internet), and the more they are on the gateway, the better. The primary connection might go offline, halting transmission, but having a combination of LTE, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet will keep the connection active because the rest act as backup links.

Bluetooth Gateway Data packet

IoT gateways provide edge computing capabilities to automate some tasks. This edge processing reduces the data packet load on the backhaul network, enabling real-time communication and control from the user applications.

I recommend buying BLE gateways with powerful SoCs to provide high-performance edge computing that reduces the load on the WAN.

These SoCs will also future-proof the device, meaning as you scale up the IoT solution for your customer over time, you will be able to maintain that edge device on the network. This will keep the servicing and maintenance costs low.

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