ANT+ / BT Smart Comparison
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ANT+ / BT Smart Comparison

Bluetooth Smart is a new protocol created by the Bluetooth SIG organization, to compete with ANT+ in the ultra-low power wireless protocol space. Bluetooth Smart is included in Bluetooth 4.0 devices.

ANT and Bluetooth Smart are both ultra-low power, low bandwidth, wireless protocols operating in the 2.4GHz range with a very similar physical radio connection.

Both promise:

  • Ultra-low peak, average, and idle mode power consumption
  • Ability to run for years on single coin cell battery
  • Immunity to Interference
  • Multi-vendor Interoperability

Let's explore what makes them different.

Power Comparison:


Summary:

  • Similar Active/Sleep power
  • ANT has more efficient Advertising
  • ANT has more efficient Scanning / Initiating
  • ANT requires less transactions per connections event
  • ANT requires less overhead to send the same amount of data

 

Result:

Each difference may be small individually, but the small differences can accumulate. The total difference will vary depending on the use case. Direct comparison of specific use cases have resulted in a 25-50% overall difference in battery life

Bluetooth uses star networking:

  • Connections are made between one master and multiple slaves
  • Multiple star networks can coexist
  • Star network to star network connections are not possible due to conflicting master timing

ANT networking:

 

  • ANT network mastering is per channel not per node
  • All ANT channels are timing independent, and can be either master or slave independently
  • Connecting across networks is not a special case with ANT, and any node can make a connection with any other node

Use Case Comparison:

Practical Application - Spin Bikes:

  • Currently in the market as an ANT+ solution
  • Not possible with BT Smart star only networks

Concurrent Android Applications:

  • ANT channels are fully independent
  • The ANT Android service enables applications to make use of this independent nature to run concurrently on the same ANT chip through virtual channels
  • ANT+ Profile Plug-ins will enable applications to be written without having to implement profiles, and allow multiple apps to use a single ANT+ Profile service.  For example, multiple apps can be recording heart rate from a single heart rate monitor
  • ANT API's are consistent across all versions of Android and are updated independent of Android OS updates, making innovation faster and easier for developers
     
  • BT Smart is only supported on Android 4.3+

Summary:

  • ANT is more efficient than BT Smart
  • ANT has the capability to connect any node in a network to any other node in the same network or a different network, providing the ultimate network flexibility
  • ANT network flexibility allows ANT+ to support many use cases that BT Smart cannot, such as one sensor to multiple displays, and peer to peer (master to master) communication
  • ANT+ Android service allows multiple independent applications to run concurrently using a single ANT radio, enabling support for multiple use cases at the same time
  • ANT+ is a proven technology with over 60 million devices in the market today.  It just works.