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Open AccessArticle

Design and Practical Evaluation of a Family of Lightweight Protocols for Heterogeneous Sensing through BLE Beacons in IoT Telemetry Applications

1
Department Computer Science, Academic Unit of Civil Engineering, Universidad Técnica de Machala, Machala 070150, Ecuador
2
Department Computer Engineering, Faculty of Computer Science, Universidade da Coruña, 15071 A Coruña, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2018, 18(1), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18010057
Received: 26 November 2017 / Revised: 20 December 2017 / Accepted: 22 December 2017 / Published: 27 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Communication Protocols and Algorithms for Sensor Networks)
The Internet of Things (IoT) involves a wide variety of heterogeneous technologies and resource-constrained devices that interact with each other. Due to such constraints, IoT devices usually require lightweight protocols that optimize the use of resources and energy consumption. Among the different commercial IoT devices, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)-based beacons, which broadcast periodically certain data packets to notify their presence, have experienced a remarkable growth, specially due to their application in indoor positioning systems. This article proposes a family of protocols named Lightweight Protocol for Sensors (LP4S) that provides fast responses and enables plug-and-play mechanisms that allow IoT telemetry systems to discover new nodes and to describe and auto-register the sensors and actuators connected to a beacon. Thus, three protocols are defined depending on the beacon hardware characteristics: LP4S-6 (for resource-constraint beacons), LP4S-X (for more powerful beacons) and LP4S-J (for beacons able to run complex firmware). In order to demonstrate the capabilities of the designed protocols, the most restrictive (LP4S-6) is tested after implementing it for a telemetry application in a beacon based on Eddystone (Google’s open beacon format). Thus, the beacon specification is extended in order to increase its ability to manage unlimited sensors in a telemetry system without interfering in its normal operation with Eddystone frames. The performed experiments show the feasibility of the proposed solution and its superiority, in terms of latency and energy consumption, with respect to approaches based on Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) when multiple users connect to a mote or in scenarios where latency is not a restriction, but where low-energy consumption is essential. View Full-Text
Keywords: BLE; beacon; lightweight protocol; plug-and-play; smart sensors; IoT; WoT; telemetry; Eddystone BLE; beacon; lightweight protocol; plug-and-play; smart sensors; IoT; WoT; telemetry; Eddystone
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Hernández-Rojas, D.L.; Fernández-Caramés, T.M.; Fraga-Lamas, P.; Escudero, C.J. Design and Practical Evaluation of a Family of Lightweight Protocols for Heterogeneous Sensing through BLE Beacons in IoT Telemetry Applications. Sensors 2018, 18, 57.

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