RES.LL-004 | Spring 2022 | Non-Credit

LL EduCATE: Introduction to Engineering Concepts

Bluetooth Hide and Seek

Bluetooth Hide and Seek experiment introduction by Juliana Furgala.

The global health crises that began in 2019 brought new uses for existing technology. Specifically, cellular phones have a “find my phone” functionality that uses phone-to-phone Bluetooth chirp communication. This functionality was repurposed for anonymous contact tracing under the Private Automated Contact Tracing (PACT) effort. PACT was a collaborative effort by numerous organizations to provide a secure, anonymous, informative way of determining if you (well, your phone) have been in contact with someone who has COVID. Through close collaboration with industry, support for this functionality was built into Apple phones and available on Android phones as an app. 

PACT logo.

What is PACT?  

PACT’s (PDF) mission is to enhance contact tracing in pandemic response by designing exposure detection functions in personal digital communication devices that have maximal public health utility while preserving privacy. The PACT team is a partnership among cryptographers, physicians, privacy experts, scientists, and engineers.

Series of logos. CSAIL, Massachusetts General Hospital, Lincoln Laboratory, MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative, MIT Media Lab, Boston University, Weizmann Institute of Science, COVID SafePaths, Brown, DARPA, Air Force Research Laboratory, ARL, NREC, Carnegie Mellon University, Draper Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, MassRobotics, MITRE, Northeastern, Qualcomm, Raytheon, Sandia National Laboratories, Government Digital Services Singapore, Systems & Technology Research, WPI, Waypoint Robotos, White Sands Missile Range.

Efforts like PACT, which touch thousands of lives, work because of collaboration between many organizations, not to mention the many teams within each of these companies. 

For our experiment, we are going to take the concept of Bluetooth-based proximity (aka nearness) detection and apply it to something easier to repeat: the reinvention of the game “hide and seek.” The goals for this experiment are to 

  • Work hands-on with a small development board 
  • Become familiar with (and even writing!) code for a development board 
  • Start to understand the physics of Radio Frequency (RF) propagation  
  • Collaborate with a team to enact an experiment 
  • Learn about game development (What else can you do with these supplies?) 

Test Your Knowledge on Bluetooth

  1. Where are some of the places that you use Bluetooth?
  2. Have you ever had the audio from your Bluetooth device cut out? When does that happen? Why do you think it happens?
  3. What specific apps do you think use Bluetooth to trade data of some sort? What kind of data do they share?

Test Your Knowledge on Bluetooth Answers

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