Thanks to Bluetooth, it’s never been easier to connect our devices. But while the absence of cables has simplified some things, other aspects are now more complicated.

When we connected devices with cables, the physical connection automatically identified the devices we were linking. That same physical link also offered a simple reassurance of a secure communication path to the device we wanted to talk to.

In the absence of cables, security and device pairing has become more complex. In order to identify which wireless device we want to connect to, we have to find the correct device out of all the ones in range, and actively pair with it. With wireless communication, security is also an issue, so additional technologies in the form of encryption and secure key exchanges are needed to ensure we are talking to the correct device over a secure link.Roblox Robux Hack 2017

NFC – Near Field Communication is designed to plug the gaps that wireless technology has created. By requiring devices to be in close proximity, it simulates a physical connection, bringing back quick and easy device pairing. The close proximity also brings back the security of a physical link by ensuring we’re connecting to the right device, and that there are no eavesdroppers on the connection.

The benefits of NFC are clear and it’s being added to many newer smartphones, but a whole ecosystem of devices still exists that lacks native NFC capability. The BL600 BLE modules from Laird bridge this gap, providing an elegant NFC-like solution using Bluetooth Low Energy.

BLE Proximity

Whisper Mode is a unique function of Laird’s BLE modules which limit the connectivity range to just a few centimeters by reducing radio transmission power. In this mode, BLE behaves similarly to NFC, requiring close proximity to pair and transmit data.

Whisper mode simplifies the Bluetooth connection process by requiring close proximity between the connecting devices, and like NFC, Whisper mode improves security by preventing eavesdropping and ensuring the connection is being made to the right device.

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Why not use NFC? Whisper Mode makes sense for devices which already have BLE functionality because they can implement NFC-like function without added hardware or complexity. Since Whisper Mode uses BLE, it works even with devices which don’t have NFC capability built in.

With Whisper Mode, NFC applications like secure keyless entry, contactless sensor readings, proximity tags, event triggers and more can be implemented with pure BLE, making them compatible with virtually every mobile device on the market.

Whisper Mode Pairing

Besides strict NFC-like applications, Whisper Mode also opens the door to secure, simplified pairing of BLE devices. Instead of choosing a device from a potentially long list of devices in range, a user could place the devices close to each other and they would pair securely and automatically. After pairing, the radio signal can be switched to normal power for full BLE transmission ranges.

This kind of proximity pairing is currently possible with Bluetooth Out Of Band(OOB) pairing where NFC is used by Bluetooth to create a secure connection, but with Whisper Mode Pairing, proximity-based pairing is possible with just Bluetooth technology.

Besides creating a shorter range link and reducing BLE device power consumption, Whisper Mode pairing makes it easy to connect to the right device in environments where multiple Bluetooth devices are active. Further to this, Whisper Mode allows you to use the insecure “just works” pairing (essential for devices with no I/O, like simple sensors) without the threat of eavesdroppers!

A typical use case is in a hospital environment where multiple Bluetooth devices may be in use. In this situation, a doctor could easily connect his medical tablet to a patient’s blood pressure monitor operating in Whisper Mode, by putting the devices close together. Once paired, the device switches to normal radio power so the doctor can move the tablet away from the monitor while maintaining the connection. Without Whisper Mode, the doctor would have to pick the right Bluetooth device to connect to from a list of possibly dozens of similar devices in range.

Beyond NFC

The Whisper Mode functionality of Laird’s Bluetooth modules let’s devices combine the benefits of NFC’s proximity based capabilities and Bluetooth Low Energy’s range and compatibility. Both pure NFC like applications like proximity tags, as well as Bluetooth OOB pairing applications like medical monitors are possible with only a BLE module for wireless communications, minimizing device complexity and cost. Best of all – no extra hardware is needed.