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I have a robot which should detect an approaching person and identify them in a range of about 1-3 meters. For that, the person should have something on their key ring, ideally without battery life concerns.

We have researched using passive UHF RFID that can reach that distance. The problem is the antenna and PCB are huge compared to our robot and could not fit inside.

We are now researching BLE (Bluetooth low energy).

Do you know if RPi 3 can works with BLE?

And what can be expected for the battery life of the beacon?

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Yes the Raspberry Pi can scan and read the data from BLE Beacons.

There are lots of different beacon data formats, one of the more popular is the Eddystone format. https://github.com/google/eddystone

There are dedicated beacon manufacturers of beacons that will run on coin cells for a year+.

If you wanted to create something yourself, then boards like the BBC micro:bit support being turned into an Eddystone Beacon:

https://makecode.microbit.org/reference/bluetooth/advertise-uid

The scanning on the Raspberry Pi will depend what language you want to use. Searching the internet for eddystone scanner in your language of choice should yield a result.

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  • Interesting answer - I'd not heard of Eddystone until just now. Have you used BLE on Raspberry Pi? I don't mean for that to sound like a challenge of any sort - I am truly only curious because my experience with using Bluetooth on RPi has been fraught with problems. – Seamus Jul 17 at 3:17
  • The BlueZ stack has been changing quite a lot over the past 8 years. Its journey to the form that it is now started in [2012][bluez.org/release-of-bluez-5-0/] with it only recently having a number of BLE features coming out from behind an experimental flag. This does mean there is a lot of wrong information out there on the internet. People's experience will also vary depending what language the are using to access BlueZ, what features they want to use and there experience with Bluetooth. Yes I use BLE on the Raspberry Pi and most things are getting better. – ukBaz Jul 17 at 6:20
  • Good to know! I'll be calling on you frequently :) (just kidding - altho' I might like to pick your brain in the near future). And sorry about the deprecated links... one nice thing about duck-duck-go search is the "time filtering" feature - so you can modify that search to only show postings in the past year (for example). – Seamus Jul 17 at 7:48

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