Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dead on Arrival: An Empirical Study of The Bluetooth 5.1 Positioning System

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Open Access permissions



Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13th International Workshop on Wireless Network Testbeds, Experimental evaluation & Characterization (WiNTECH’19)
Subtitle of host publicationOctober 25, 2019, Los Cabos, Mexico
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-6931-2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019
EventACM Workshop on Wireless Network Testbeds, Experimental evaluation & Characterization - Los Cabos, Mexico
Duration: 25 Oct 201925 Oct 2019


ConferenceACM Workshop on Wireless Network Testbeds, Experimental evaluation & Characterization
Abbreviated titleWiNTECH
CityLos Cabos
Internet address


The recently released Bluetooth 5.1 specification introduces fine-grained positioning capabilities in this wireless technology, which is deemed essential to context-/location-based Internet of Things (IoT) applications. In this paper, we evaluate experimentally, for the first time, the accuracy of a positioning system based on the Angle of Arrival (AoA) mechanism adopted by the Bluetooth standard. We first scrutinize the fidelity of angular detection and then assess the feasibility of using angle information from multiple fixed receivers to determine the position of a device. Our results reveal that angular detection is limited to a restricted range. On the other hand, even in a simple deployment with only two antennas per receiver, the AoA-based positioning technique can achieve sub-meter accuracy; yet attaining localization within a few centimeters remains a difficult endeavor. We then demonstrate that a malicious device may be able to easily alter the truthfulness of the measured AoA, by tampering with the packet structure. To counter this protocol weakness, we propose simple remedies that are missing in the standard, but which can be adopted with little effort by manufacturers, to secure the Bluetooth 5.1 positioning system.


ID: 109261677