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I have been a professional embedded software engineer for a few decades, but we don't get to select the hardware and generally have no understanding of it, beyond the interface to a device derive or bus.

Now I would like to start a few hobby projects, with long term view to doing something commercial.

I am interested in tracking, both people and inventory - people first. I have experience using active RFID, but that is expensive, both the tags and the reader.

For tracking people, I am thinking of BlueTooth (LE), maybe sending an advertising packet every 60 seconds, saying "here i am, please locate me". I need a minimum 12 hours rechargeable battery life in some kind of wearable (my cheap Xioami 3 fitness band gets a few weeks on a charge, so that should be no problem).

Would I be correct in thinking that an ESP32 would fit the bill, or is there something better? For tracking inventory, I have no idea; perhaps the same?

Sorry if this is rather long. I have two questions, which device to use for development, and which for production?

For development, I can see that a small display would be useful; I also need to be able to power it from battery occasionally, so hopefully you have a kit that doesn't involve soldering:-)

For production, I am unsure. Obviously, it needs a rechargeable battery,for use as a wearable. I can see the use of a display, monochrome, just to send some text to the device, as would something to vibrate to get the user's attention, but not if those would be significantly decremental to battery life, although I would probably have the device in sleep mode, occasionally polling server and if there is anything to display, vibrating, then displaying for a minute or two, before going back to sleep.

What can you recommend?

Thank you very much in advance for your help.
Okay lets start with tracking people first. But what is your tracking environment? Are you trying to track a person inside a building like mall or stadium to track where he is moving and currently at OR are you planning to track him in his town with his GPS co-ordinates?

If you are tracking him inside a building then its called indoor tracking system and there are many ways (not easy ones) to do it. The most common one is to have BLE beacons advertising some packets and the person will pick these values based on which we can figure out his position using 3-point triangulation or other technique. You can try this out with ESP32 or HM-10 since both can act as BLE beacons. You will need to set up minimum of three beacons to begin with.

Alternatively if you trying to track a person in town, you can track with either a GPS module and then use some wireless medium like Wi-Fi/LoRa or Sigfox to send these values to a server where you can track your device. Or you can use a GSM module using which you can track the co-ordinates and as well sent a text message to a pre-defined number about his whereabouts. I tried something similar some time back ... nd-arduino

This did not use a display since the text message was directly sent to my mobile phone and was viewed using google maps. But you can add a display unit like OLED to display the current co-ordinate details. It should be easy since we are using Arduino as our controller