Waze selects Bluvision to co-develop Bluetooth-based tunnel navigation system

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Waze, the free, real-time, crowdsourced traffic and navigation app powered by more than 50 million drivers worldwide, has developed a viable solution that addresses ‘tunnel blindness’ in the absence of a GPS signal.

Bluvision, one of the market leaders in Bluetooth beacons, was selected by Waze as the hardware partner for enabling tunnel navigation capabilities. Bluvision is leading innovation in the Internet of Things (IoT) space as a market leader in sensor beacons, pioneer of achieving cloud connectivity without the need for smartphone applications, and the first to offer a cloud system that allows remote, worldwide beacon deployment, fleet, workflow and event management. The company’s industry-leading Bluetooth sensor beacons are an effective solution to the challenges of tunnel navigation and accuracy in ETA (estimated time of arrival). The system uses a variant of Bluvision’s BEEKS Plus beacon, with an extended battery life that can exceed six-years, along with Waze’s innovative software.

The Waze Beacons are Bluvision’s cost-effective, battery-operated, Bluetooth low-energy microcontrollers that have Waze-specific configurations, powered by Google’s Eddystone profile, to transmit messages directly to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, used as an alternative to a GPS signal. In other words, Waze Bluvision Beacons enable uninterrupted location service with driver devices, yielding tunnel navigation not possible with GPS. Waze began implementing the Waze Beacons in mid-August and will continue throughout this autumn.

Waze worked with Bluvision to create custom beacon hardware designed to suit moving vehicles and solve historic, tunnel-specific location challenges. Tweaks included faster frequency of beacon pings, to get less error for a fast-moving vehicle, and stronger transmission, to get enough overlap between beacon coverage. Bluvision’s beacons can be used to provide location accuracy within one meter and promise to be far more accurate than standard RSSI (received signal strength indicator). The beacons are IP67 water and environment resistant, making them both durable and reliable for harsh environments. The BEEKS Plus broadcasts its location information, which in turn is used to send real-time routes and alerts.

“When selecting our Waze Beacons’ hardware partner, Bluvision was the only manufacturer that had the power rating of six years doing 0dBm @ 10Hz we needed to create Waze Beacons,” said Gil Disatnik, software engineer at Waze. “Bluvision was a true partner, working through every question and request with enthusiasm to ensure the final product solved all of our needs.”

Bluvision’s CEO, James Buchheim, noted, “We are as committed to location accuracy as Waze. We are thrilled to have been a part of the first scalable solution in the world that powers navigation in tunnels, and looks to create a safer commute for millions of Wazers using the tunnels. Waze was looking for a powerful beacon that could frequently transmit high-powered broadcasts, while incorporating specific custom settings, supporting fast and easy deployments in harsh environments. Our BEEKS Plus is the only beacon in the market today that can handle this kind of throughput without requiring battery replacement every couple of years, and has fast deployment tools to solve this type of use case.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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