With the growing realisation in cold chain that Bluetooth sensors and data loggers provide a cost effective and highly flexible solution to what has otherwise been dominated by proprietary sensor and radio technology, the question that is increasingly asked is “What makes the best Bluetooth sensor and data logger?”.
Here are the top 5 qualities that make the best Bluetooth sensors and data loggers in our opinion:
1. Apps for iOS and Android that are easily customisable
iOS and Android still account for over 93% of the smartphone/tablet market with there being a preference for Android devices in commercial settings given the greater flexibility an Android operating system provides.
The apps should be customisable so that the specific needs of a customer’s information systems can be catered for. The vendor of the Bluetooth sensor and data logger should be offering services in the customisation of their own apps or by providing API and integration assistance in the development by a customer of their own apps. There should at the very least be a data structure document that allows a customer to easily develop their own apps and integrate the Bluetooth sensors and data loggers into their own systems.
2. The ability for multiple devices to be easily managed from a smartphone or tablet
This is fairly important and often overlooked. When there are lots of Bluetooth sensors and data loggers in close proximity the biggest issue becomes device and data management. The inability to tell which device is being communicated with can be a headache. Look for devices where the name/identifier can be set from a smartphone or tablet and where the sensor and data logger can be easily identified physically via a buzzer or an LED.
3. A small robust hardware platform in terms of enclosure and PCB that allows for sensor/memory enhancements and over the air (OTA) updates
The sensitivity of sensors needs to be higher in some use cases than others. Pharmaceuticals compared to food, for example. By choosing a solution where a more sensitive sensor can be prescribed but the rest of the platform, data structure and apps can remain the same allows for considerable cost savings, flexibility in, and reduced time to, deployment. This can make Bluetooth sensors and data loggers particularly attractive.
Also OTA capabilities allows for future firmware upgrades in the field. Important where a customer is going through a high rate of technological change since it enables the Bluetooth sensors and data loggers to keep pace in terms of fitting into new or revised systems.
4. The ability to integrate into an internet monitoring based system easily
While smartphone centric solutions are particularly attractive, there is often the need for the sensor data to be extracted from the sensors and made available over the internet, if only for regulatory, data management and data storage purposes. Any Bluetooth solution needs to be compatible with an internet gateway that can automate this process.
5. A hardware vendor that has the specialised knowledge to assist in development and implementation of the solution
Although not related to the device itself, look for devices that are supplied by a vendor that has developed the solution and can assist in its customisation and implementation. Be wary of vendors who are selling third party solutions since they often cannot assist in its customisation or implementation and this can be a problem for time to deployment or cost, especially if any firmware needs updating or tailored for system integration purposes. Often the choice of vendor can be the difference between a good and the best Bluetooth sensor and data logging solution.