Bluetooth proximity tracking technology is in use for many years. But it has been focused tech due to the recent Novel Coronavirus. It will make a significant impact on people’s life via Bluetooth Contact Tracing app by Apple and Google during COVID-19.
How does it work?
Every mobile phone has Bluetooth connectivity nowadays. When your device has the Bluetooth ON, it will be discoverable by another nearby device that using similar technology. Then it will send the push notification where you might don’t need the authentication. These kinds of techniques used by marketing agencies and public places like malls and cinemas. You may have noticed that you received the push notifications when you are visiting such a place. To manage the broad user base at one location, marketers using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons to communicate with multiple Bluetooth devices. Beacons using the low-level Bluetooth connection which doesn’t require the authorisation.
What does Bluetooth proximity tracking techs can track?
Bluetooth proximity tracking app will be able to track your location, people around you and personal data about users. But it is not necessary that app going to track one or every information. For example, Contact Tracing app to help COVID-19 by Apple and Google may not follow your location and focus only on close proximity devices. Tracking close proximity device will help them to identify the Coronavirus infected person and people of the surrounding area if they are using the same app. This app may have permission to access data and pre-authorisation for sharing the required data.
What is Bluetooth proximity peer to peer messaging system?
Usually, the Bluetooth range is approx 10 meters, but you can extend it to use in a wide area. People may have used the peer to peer messaging app where the technology used Bluetooth or Wi-Fi peer to peer connectivity. This technology increases the range by connecting one device to another, then third, fourth, and so on. Some education institutes used similar technology in the past for teaching and learning purpose.
Wi-Fi has a long-range, and possible to use for a big area and robust connectivity. Bluetooth technology cannot communicate directly with Wi-Fi protocol or vice a versa. But these limitations can be managed by creating a bridged network with the help of the right tools.
What are the benefits of Bluetooth proximity tracking technology?
I am sure that you may have used or at least heard or seen the ‘Tile‘ tracking device. Tile is the tiny keychain that tracking your attached keys or stuff and showing the location on the mobile app. You also can use the buzzer function that makes the device to beep or ring so you can find it easily. Tile tracking device has multiple variants and it’s not that expensive to buy at Amazon.
Similarly, event organisers using the similar technology where people have the Bluetooth tag attached for entries. Benefits of such tags are tracking people’s location that can help to locate and meet in overcrowded events.
Some advance devices can push the text or videos links of information on users phone while they are visiting museums or historical places.
What are the risks of using Bluetooth proximity tracking apps?
The most common risk for such an app is, it leaves the device in the position of vulnerability if permissions not set up correctly. For example, a Bluetooth tracking system used by malls may monitor the behaviour of buyers and can use it for advertising.
If someone detects open authorisation for Bluetooth, they can hack into your device, but hackers have to be smart. In such a scenario, hackers using malicious code to compiling with the message and inject into mobile devices root. It works similarly to computers and infects the system or mobile devices.
How to avoid the risk of privacy breaching and staying safe while using Bluetooth proximity tracking app?
First of all, every iOS and Android app asks you for permission to access your device hardware and data while installing it. Be careful when you grant permission to use storage, camera, microphones, GPS and any related accessibility during installation. Keep the Bluetooth Off when not in use, or you don’t want to use it purposely. Reset the permissions if required on your mobile phone. You also can remove the app from the device and clear the cache will make it safe.
Bluetooth proximity tracking is a technology that can help in many cases. It was used successfully in the past for marketing etc. Peer to peer networking with such technology can serve the numbers of devices at the same time. An excellent example of the use of peer to peer network via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi used in the past for messaging app and learning platforms. People may use it for the different scenario in the present, and it’s going to be used in future where required. Upcoming Contact Tracing app by Apple and Google for helping with COVID-19 will be the prime example of Bluetooth proximity tracking.