A beacon is a miniature Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radio transmitter which only transmits a signal repeatedly that other devices can detect. It broadcast its unique code on a regular interval. A Bluetooth equipped device can, in turn, be able to locate the beacon and recognize the signal once it’s in the range.
A beacon consists of a CPU, a radio transmitter and a battery. The beacon consists of Bluetooth low energy (BLE), which is power efficient, so, a small lithium battery can run for a long time. It can also run off connected power sources like USB plugs and can include such add-ons like accelerometers or temperature sensors. Beacons only transmit their unique ID, over and over again, and sent to the listening device like a smartphone that can identify the beacon.
How beacon Works
This new Beacon technology began with the introduction of iBeacons by Apple which is a protocol that allows the Bluetooth devices to transmit small bits of data. Google released its version of beacons in 2015, as Eddystone. iBeacon is based on Bluetooth low energy proximity sensing by transmitting a unique ID picked up by a compatible app. This ID can be used to determine the device’s physical location, track customers, or trigger a location-based action on the device. Beacon technology is developing with more capabilities, efficient hardware range, and battery life.
Beacons are associated with Bluetooth which provides the infrastructure for the entire beacon ecosystem. It’s a standard for sending data over short distances. Beacons can use for several purposes. The location-based technology can be an efficient tool for marketers, as they can push notifications to the device based on where customers spend most of their time in the store what the customer is looking for in the market. GPS is widely used for wayfinding and navigation but has poor accuracy for indoor navigation due to poor signal strength. Beacons can be used for indoor navigation as it can guide the user at the exact location.
Beacons consist of BLE which is power efficient as compared to traditional Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Most beacons have 18-24-month battery life, Beacons with energy-saving capabilities can last over 5 years. The Transmission Power defines the range of transmitting data. It can range from 50 to 90 meters. Usually, Beacons support both the iBeacon and Eddystone protocol. Most beacons now a day include accelerometers, light or movement sensors.
Tracking: In industrial and transport, managers need to know where exactly goods are at any time. A beacon tag that can be attached to a particular thing can give that information.
Indoor Navigation: Beacons can be used to create an indoor navigation system; they can tell you where you are and directions inside a public place like a museum or a train station.
Security: it can use for the safety of factory workers by alerting them for dangerous changes, beacons can automatically send alert notifications about the safety issue.
Beacons for Visually impaired: It helps people with vision impairment to navigate surroundings. Beacons are placed in public places like shopping malls, bus stations, train station and interact with a Smartphone app.
Beacons installed at London’s busy Euston station, and city of Strasbourg in France are helping the blind people to navigate without the requirement of anyone else. These locations have beacons attached to a wall in every nook and corner that communicates with the blind person’s phone. When a blind person enters that area, the beacons start sending instructions and step by step directions to how to get to the desired location. These instructions are received by an app on the phone. This makes it easy to get from one place to another for people with visual impairment.
Beacons can be placed on a vending machine, so blind people could hear descriptions of objects inside it. If a blind person walks past a room or facility, without knowing what it is, they can press a button on the app that will get a description of the room from the beacon placed in the vicinity. They are everywhere around us and helps us simplify our schedules and lifestyles. This is especially true for people with disabilities.
Beacons are growing faster and finding there uses in different markets. The applications of beacon technology are vast, and their implementation is only dependent on developers on how they can use it for a new application. In recent years they have proven their worth, especially for visually impaired.