WHAT IS A iBEACON / BEACON?

 iBeacon is the name for Apple's technology standard that allows iBeacons or beacons to transmit a Bluetooth low energy signal and be received by a mobile device. This bridges the gap between the physical and internet world. GPS Location indoors is not precise enough and might not be available at all. With iBeacons you know exactly where user is located and can get a rough estimate of distance between the user and your beacon. You are able to develop and provide location contextual apps to your customers.

What is a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) device?

 Similar to the classic Bluetooth, BLE allows transmission of data over short distances. It has low energy consumption and depending on iBeacon settings can sometimes last as much as 1-2 years on a single coin battery without a power adapter. iBeacons are small in size and can be almost as small a quarter. BLE are part of the Bluetooth 4.0 and higher standard. Nokia developed BLE and Apple has bought it to the masses.

Low energy Bluetooth cost 60-80% less then classical Bluetooth and price is constantly falling as beacons are becoming a commodity.

BLE usually has broadcast range of up to 50 meters but this is largely dependent on space layout, interference, iBeacon positioning and iBeacon design itself. More powerful beacons are available on the market that go up to 150 meeters.

What does iBeacon transmit and how is iBeacon used?

Typically there are 4 items that are used from iBeacon transmission:

UUID: This is a 16 character GUID assigned to the beacon. UUID is usually used to identify on a high level a chain of venues (organizations). Let's say a Mall has 100 stores, you would typically assign the same UUID to all the beacons inside the mall. This allows quick identification of the mall by UUID.

Major Number: This number can be used to identify each individual store inside the mall.

Minor Number: This number can be used to identify different isles or sections of the store.

Tx Power: This number provides power strength between the beacon and mobile device. This can be used to estimate distance between two locations. Calibration should be performed with each beacon to get a baseline of power strength signal of 1 meter away from the beacon. This will provide more accurate distance measurements.

What does this all mean?

 When you get within range of the iBeacon UDID that your app is monitoring a pop-up on the screen can appear, even if your screen has the lock screen. You can fetch content from the web and display it to the user or have the content built in directly in the app and internet connection won't be required at all.

Example...

 Let's say there is a iBeacon installed inside your favorite restaurant, as soon as you get inside the restaurant a pop-up can appear asking you if you want to check for special deals or coupons. Targeted coupons and information can be tailored just for your customer and so does the coupon amount depending on how often they visit. GPS is usually very inaccurate indoors or is not available at all.

You can tag items, locations, and other items with a small iBeacon module and keep track of it. Different actions can be triggered when items leave or appear within range of your phone.



iBeacon Example

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