Beacons are small wireless devices that broadcast signals using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), or Bluetooth SMART technology. Mobile apps on compatible devices are able to listen for signals from beacons placed in the physical world and then trigger an experience via the app.
Beacon enabled apps are notified when the device enters or exits the range of a beacon, and are also able to monitor the distance from the beacon as it changes, often referred to as 'ranging'.
Bluetooth Low Energy
BLE or Bluetooth Smart is an intelligent and power friendly version of Bluetooth wireless technology and exchanges data over short distances using radio transmissions. The power of BLE is in its ability to work with an app on a smartphone, tablet or any other compatible mobile device.
The Beacon System
The Beacon system from Apple can be broken down into two parts:
• A piece of hardware – the “Beacon”, which constantly broadcasts a Bluetooth Low Energy signal. This transmits a unique identifier (UUID) and two further identifiers; major and minor (unsigned 16 bit integer values), which can be used to identify the beacon.
• Application Programmable Interface (API) - An API to search for beacons with a certain UUID and optionally a specific major and minor value. iBeacon adds the possibility for the developer to subscribe to beacons like you would subscribe to geolocations. This enables the app to get notifications (whether the app is currently running or not) when the user gets within range of a specific beacon.
• High degree of accuracy
• Low impact on battery life
• Low cost of entry
• No Internet connection required
Some of the most common beacon security myths:
• Beacons are transmitting personal data:
Beacons don’t transmit any personal data. In fact, beacons don’t receive any data at all.
• Beacons are tracking my location:
Beacons can’t track your location. The only thing they can do is let your mobile device know that you’re nearby.
Beacons work with both Android and iOS. They were initially introduced in iOS7 and are compatible with every Android version > 4.3
This puts beacon functionality in 300 million + devices.
Beacons transmit a low energy signal from a device with a radius of 0-50 meters to broadcast static pieces of data within short distances.
In a nutshell, our basic requirements for an operational beacon are:
1. Beacon enabled mobile app
2. Network of deployed beacons
3. Bluetooth switched on and relevant permissions
Without a doubt, the Beacon is a useful convergence device that can be given a shot at, which is for sure a revolution in technology