EducationBluetooth Beacons – Most Popular Indoor Location Solution

Bluetooth Beacons – Most Popular Indoor Location Solution

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Many of us are likely to have first encountered Bluetooth through headsets and hands-free gadgets. However, a new generation of Bluetooth devices is coming, which are less expensive and use less power.

From a non-technical and customer standpoint, the term Bluetooth appears to encompass any type of Bluetooth communication that requires human activating via your smartphone. Bluetooth radios are divided into two categories:

  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • Bluetooth Classic

Despite their names, Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy are incompatible. This is because they are two distinct protocols.

Bluetooth Classic is frequently used to broadcast large amounts of data, such as audio from a smartphone to a Bluetooth-enabled amplifier or audio to headphones. As a consequence, Bluetooth Classic tends to send greater data and consume more power.

BLE, on the other hand, sends data at regular intervals, uses less power, and hence can last for months (or even years) on one battery. One of the reasons that’s considered low energy is because of its durability.

A Concise Summary Of Bluetooth And Bluetooth Beacons

Dr. Nils Rydebeck and Dr. Johan Ullman developed the initial Bluetooth technology in 1989.

Ever since, Bluetooth has evolved to offer additional functions, faster speeds, and greater bandwidth. Editions 2.0 and 3.0 needed a two-way link to function, which meant that devices had to actively pair with one another.

Bluetooth 4.0 was introduced in 2010, allowing for one-way communication. This suggested that gadgets could be programmed to simply transmit and not listen, resulting in a huge reduction in power usage.

At the World Wide Developer Conference on 10th June 2013, Apple announced iBeacon as a component of iOS 7. iBeacon is a protocol option that allows mobile apps to detect and respond to transmissions from beacons in the real world.

As a result, Bluetooth beacon technology has grown in popularity and use. By 2014, more than half of the top 100 US retailers have started experimenting with beacon technology in their stores for contextual advertising and behavioral data collection.

Google also released the Physical Web, a Chrome web-based beacon scanner, about the same time. Unlike iBeacon, which requires an app, Google’s Real Web will enable users to experience the URL and view the web pages with the related spaces using Google’s Chrome web browser. Real Web, on the other hand, has been decommissioned and is no longer accepted as of 2018.

Google introduced the Eddystone-EID protocol in 2016, which is comparable to Apple’s iBeacon technology but extends to WiFi-connected devices.

AWS deployed beacons integrated attendee badges to discreetly measure foot movement and attendance at their 2019 event in Las Vegas because of the minimal price of hardware fabrication and size.

Bluetooth Beacons’ Pros And Downsides

A Bluetooth beacon has the advantage of being inexpensive and simple to install. It’s a physical device that can be fixed or moved with items or people to assist in tracking their whereabouts. It’s simply a transmitter that only needs to be installed, with the only remaining task being to customize the beacon’s operations.

In addition to being inexpensive, the lengthy battery life necessitates minimal maintenance.

Bluetooth beacons have the drawback of not being self-contained. A beacon is one component of a system, which means that the entire arrangement is dependent on users having a suitable device.

The receiver in certain systems is a stationary device housed in a facility, whereas the Bluetooth beacons are mobile. An asset tracking program with a fixed locating device and beacons connected to resources to track their whereabouts within a site is an example of this.

The strength of the receiving device’s Internet connection can also limit Bluetooth beacon triggers. An obstacle can sometimes be as easy as requiring a user to accept consent requirements before immediately logging into Wi-Fi hotspots.

When you have authority over the receiver, on the other hand, your end-to-end BLE application may ensure a high level of dependability and low maintenance. A Bluetooth beacon can survive up to three years without needing to be recharged due to its low power consumption.

Things That Need To Be Considered:

Bluetooth is a term that can be used to describe both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy. They are, however, two distinct protocols that share the Bluetooth trademark. The differences are in the protocol details, how they’re employed, and the applications in which they’re used.

When it relates to Bluetooth beacons, the protocol used is BLE. It’s important to remember that Bluetooth beacons are just one piece of a larger picture. The manner Bluetooth beacons and devices interact is governed by two primary standards, which will be addressed in the second half of this series, along with real-world use cases.

A Bluetooth beacon is nothing more than a broadcaster that transmits data within a set radius. It’s worth noting that the larger the radius, the more power is consumed.

It is particularly desired in terms of maintenance due to its low energy usage. Because of its low cost, it is ideal for long-term and bulk installations. Its ten-year history, as well as support and development from key IT corporations, ensures the technology’s future growth, sustainability, and support.

Examples of Bluetooth Beacons

Some examples of beacon applications include:

  • Anything that necessitates a proximity check, such as something or someone entering or exiting a specific area uses Bluetooth Beacons.
  • When customers pass by or visit a store, the retailer’s app sends them notifications. With sustained investment in beacon-driven systems, the retail industry is expected to produce $968.9 million in revenue in 2018.
  • Beacons can be connected to galleries and museums to provide information to visitors about the exhibition they’re viewing.
  • You can build up an indoor positioning system with a network of beacons to track the movement of people or products. This can be used in a variety of ways, but stock monitoring in warehouses or factories and attendance tracking programs are two prominent examples. The number of initiatives incorporating Bluetooth beacons into high-value consumer product packaging is likely to rise in 2018.

Conclusive Remarks:

In a nutshell, we can say that although a Bluetooth beacon is sending its signal, something else must receive and use it in some way, most typically via a smartphone and associated app. There’s a tremendous chance to contact people through this channel, as a recent study suggests that 40 to 50% of customers keep Bluetooth turned on, rendering their gadgets easily susceptible to beacon messaging. Because satellite location systems can’t work indoors, beacons are quickly becoming one of the most popular indoor location solutions.

Michal Pukala
Electronics and Telecommunications engineer with Electro-energetics Master degree graduation. Lightning designer experienced engineer. Currently working in IT industry.