Jone Teel over Makezine walked through how to use BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy ), aka Bluetooth smart, in an electronic product.
BLE, unlike classic Bluetooth, it’s not designed for big data transmission or streaming audio or video. BLE comes in SoC (System on Chip) ICs which combine a RF transceiver and a microcontroller running the Bluetooth stack (firmware) all in a single chip but you can still have the transceiver alone and run the software stack firmware on your processor.
According to Jone, the software stack of Bluetooth Classic must be purchased separately and costs at least $10,000 USD plus a per unit licensing fee for every unit sold. Now, BLE SoC makers provide the software stack free in most cases. For example, Nordic Semiconductors provides the software stack S110, S120 and S130 SoftDevice for free.
Jone advises to use ready made BLE modules rather than chips and this will reduce the costs required for FCC certification and eliminate the need for antenna tuning.
Jone ends his article talking about the Antenna design solutions using a ceramic antenna or a trace antenna on PCB.