How does iBeacon Work?


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iBeacon is a new technology that extends Location Services in on mobile devices. Find out how does iBeacon work and pros & cons of it.

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  • Very informative presentation. Thanks for sharing. Location is actually the one of the better determinants of a consumer’s expectation. Unfortunately, in their efforts to drive in-store footfall and ROI using location-driven proximity marketing technologies, few marketers have rendered the technology useless with overused mobile marketing efforts. Therefore the best way forward for brands is to target consumers with precision ( not estimation) using content and offers that are most relevant to that consumer’s specific location at that particular place and moment. We’ve discussed a few proximity marketing campaign success secrets that will help marketers ace their next proximity campaign here:
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How does iBeacon Work?

  1. 1. iBeacon is a new technology that extends Location Services on mobile devices. Your iOS device can trigger apps when you approach or leave a location with an iBeacon. In addition to monitoring location, an app can estimate your proximity to an iBeacon (for example, a display or checkout counter in a retail store). Instead of using latitude and longitude to define the location, iBeacon uses a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signal, which iOS devices detect Softweb2014 iBeacon
  2. 2. Softweb2014 iBeacon What they are? iBeacons are tiny computers that are cheap to produce and last a long time. They broadcast a simple signal that can be detected by smartphones. That location can be very broad ("Tim's Shoe Store"), store-based ("Tim's Shoe Store Atlanta") or even department-based. ("the boots section of Tim's Shoe Store Atlanta"). Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Communication To understand how iBeacon works, it’s important to first be familiar with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Bluetooth Low Energy is a network technology used to transmit data over short distances. BLE communication comprises of advertisements of small packets of data which are broadcasted at regular intervals through radio waves. BLE broadcasting is a one-way communication method; it simply advertises its packets of data. These packets of data can then be picked up by smart devices nearby, which can be used for a number of applications to trigger events such as prompts, push notifications, and app actions. How does iBeacon Work? How iBeacon uses BLE Communication Apple has standardized the format of iBeacon BLE advertising. An iBeacon’s advertising packet is made up of 3 components:
  3. 3. Softweb2014 iBeacon UUID: A universally unique identifier (UUID) comes in a 16 byte string format that distinguishes a company’s beacons from others. For example, if Nike has a network of beacons across its chain of retail stores, all of Nike’s beacons would share the same UUID. This allows Nike’s app to know which advertisements come from Nike-owned beacons. Major value: Major values come as a 2 byte string and is used to specify a beacon within a group. If Nike deploys 20 beacons in its store in San Francisco, all of those beacons would have the same major value. The major value essentially allows Nike to know which store their customers are in. Minor value: Minor values also come as a 2 byte string and is used to identify specific beacons. A beacon at Nike’s storefront and at the men’s shoe section would both have its own unique minor value. At a minimum, businesses are required to input UUID details when programming beacons. Major and minor values are optional. ProximityUUID A unique UUID to distinguish your beacons from other beacons Same UUID for a company's beacons (i.e. 064cc638-2629-5f5e-a6 b0-b66af78d7b5f Major (Optional Used to specify a particular beacon within a group Arbitrary numeric value: Stores in New York = 1 Stores in San Francisco = 2 Minor (Optional Used to identify specific beacons Arbitrary numeric value: Storefront = 5 Shoes section = 6 Cashier = 7
  4. 4. Softweb2014 iBeacon Measuring Distance and Range Transmitter Power (txPower): The txPower is used to determine how close a device is to a beacon. It is the strength of the signal 1 meter from the device. With this, a rough estimate of the device’s proximity to the beacon is given. A beacon has 3 approximate ranges: A beacon’s range is affected by many obstacles such as walls, furniture, or people. All of these can weaken a beacon’s signal, which is why the measured distance is a rough estimate. Businesses can deliver different contextually relevant interactions to customers when customers are in immediate range of a beacon, near a beacon, or far from a beacon. Immediate: a few centimeters Near: a few meters Far: approximately 10 meters Proximity based services with iBeacon is now possible. Are they expensive? No, iBeacons are cheap to buy and use, and cost about $30-$40 each. If you have a small store, one beacon is enough to cover the whole place, but if you have lots of walls you may need two or three. Companies like Estimote sell three in a pack for $99, and each iBeacon is sticky – you can place it wherever you want!
  5. 5. Softweb2014 iBeacon Is iBeacons only good for shopping and coupons? No. iBeacons also features micro-location geofencing. This is ideal for indoor mapping. For instance, GPS signals have trouble penetrating the steel and glass of buildings. This prevents many mapping apps from offering indoor navigation, but iBeacon’s microlocation feature hopes to solve the problem. An iPhone with iBeacon can connect to a nearby beacon to determine a GPS location. You could then navigate through an airport, casino or museum just by using a mapping app. And that's only the beginning; the possibilities are endless. Device & OS Support You can control which apps and system services access Location Services data, including iBeacon: Tap Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Note: If you allow third-party apps or websites to use your current location, you agree to their terms, privacy policies, and practices. You should review the terms, privacy policies, and practices of the apps and websites to understand how they use your location and other information. Information Apple collects will be treated in accordance with Apple's Privacy Policy. iPhone 4s or later iPad (3rd generation) or later iPad mini or later iPod touch (5th generation) or later Will iBeacon be more expensive than NFC? iBeacons is more affordable. Using the Starbucks reference, the area of a typical Starbucks store starts at 1,700 square feet. iBeacons' range is 50 meters. Therefore, Starbucks would need one beacon at minimum for each store. Estimote is currently offering pre-orders of three beacons for $99. If Starbucks wanted to use NFC instead, it would need to put 10-cent NFC tags on every product. That mean's it would pay $100,000 for NFC tags to put on 1 million products. To use iBeacon, you need iOS 7 or later, Bluetooth turned on, and a compatible iOS device:
  6. 6. Softweb2014 iBeacon Here are some findings: In-store retail and offline payments are in the first wave of beacon applications. Retail outlets are adopting beacons to provide customers with product information, flash sales or deals, and to speed up the checkout process with a completely contactless payments system. -40% SCAN Consumers seem receptive to beacons as a way to enhance their instore shopping experience. Half of American adults already utilize their mobile devices in stores. But there's a barrier to wide adoption of beacon technology: several layers of permissions. Customers have to turn on Bluetooth, accept location services on the relevant app and opt-in to receive in-store or indoor notifications. People are confused about Apple iBeacon because it has yet to take a true physical form. Apple hasn't manufactured a physical beacon. Instead, Apple's iBeacon is built into its devices and iOS7 mobile operating system. Already, 200 million iOS devices can already serve as transmitters and receivers. But third-party manufacturers have built beacons that can send iBeacon messages to Apple devices. The beacon wars are heating up. PayPal and Qualcomm are gearing up to challenge Apple with beacon hardware of their own. Smaller vendors like Estimote, Swirl, and GPShopper are entering the mix with beacon management and consulting on top of hardware or software platforms. The applications go beyond retail: We expect beacons to be deployed all over airports and ground transit hubs so that notifications on departures, delays, and gate and platform assignments can be delivered instantly to passenger phones. check prices
  7. 7. Softweb2014 iBeacon In-Store Mobile Shopping Experiences (% of adult cell owners who used their phone during the past 30 days inside a store to...) 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% 38% 46% 24% 28% 25% 27% Business Intelligence Call for advice about a purchase Use phone to look up products reviews Use phone to look up products pricing Source: Pew, January 2013 2012 2013
  8. 8. Softweb2014 iBeacon Pros & Cons Technology available today with wifi and can be used across all smartphone. Relatively inexpensive Technology Wifi Pros Requires an installed app by user to engage Investments in Wifi SW/HW to achieve accuracy Cons Great accuracy for use with payments and product information. Very low cost of RFID sensors/stickers NFC/RFID Not supported by Apple 20 cm (7.9 Inch) range Based on Bluetooth 4.0 & available on most new smartphones iBeacons Requires an app to be installed & Bluetooth to be running Requires new technology/investments and become complex to maintain when you scale up
  9. 9. Softweb2014 iBeacon Softweb Solutions 2531 Technology Drive, Suite 312, Elgin, Illinois 60124 US Toll Free Number: 1-866-345-7638 Email: Contact Information About Softweb Solutions Software Solutions is a leading Software Development Company that serves clients worldwide of all sizes. We have a strong performance record in offering quality software development services demonstrated by ISO 9001:2008 certification and Microsoft Gold Certified partnership. We provide cutting edge Mobile App Development solutions for various platforms like Apple iOS, Android OS, Blackberry and Windows Phone. We attempt to deal with constantly evolving business needs by incorporating all our strengths in our solutions. To know more about us and how we deliver mobility solutions to the organizations across the world. Contact our representative or e-mail us at You can also visit our corporate website –