What is iBeacon and how can a business use it?
scand blog on ibeacon

Guest Post by Sannacode

Digital marketing tools help online businesses build relationships with their customers and test various hypotheses.

But building personal marketing communication with clients for offline businesses is a challenge. Billboards, girls with flyers, signs on the mall floor prevent the brand from having a dialogue with a specific person.

Clients with offline businesses come to us in Sannacode to implement Beacon technology.

Beacons can reach a client offline. These are miniature beacons that communicate with customers’ phones within a radius of 50 meters. Thus, the institution can quickly find out regular customers, count visitors, notify about promotions and discounts, collect data on movement and frequency of visits.

What is Beacon?

Beacons are a type of miniature battery-operated device for transmitting low-volume information. Information can be anything from environmental parameters (temperature, pressure, humidity, and so on) or the state of an object (location, acceleration, vibration) to notifications about prices and goods in a store.

The transmitted data is usually static, but it can also be dynamic and change over time. Beacons using Bluetooth Low Energy are typically designed to operate for many years on a single coin-sized battery. 

Installation of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons with iBeacon technology allows displaying PUSH notifications associated with the location and determining the client’s movements by several beacons (geofencing). It requires exceptional mobile app development for iOS and Android platforms, which will receive online a list of all visible tags and use them to determine the room’s location.

Beacon pros:

  • Easy installation without wires (matchbox-sized beacons can be simply attached to walls or furniture)
  • One beacon costs $ 10-30 (if you only need to notify the visitor at the entrance, then one is enough)
  • The battery lasts up to 2-3 years (an outlet or USB powers some beacons)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 practically does not drain your phone battery
  • It eliminates the hassle of printing flyers and coupons, most of which always end up in the trash

Beacons cons:

  • Works only with clients who have installed the casino app in advance
  • Their smartphones must have Bluetooth enabled *
  • There is a risk of inexperience to spam and turn away loyal customers
  • On iOS, notifications may come with a delay (if the phone is in your pocket)

How do beacons work?

iBeacon is designed for micro-navigation and micro-positioning tasks and allows data transfer between wireless devices. As a transmitter, a beacon transmitter can be used. The detection range, depending on the beacon and obstacles model, reaches 50-70 meters. The lighthouse operates autonomously from a battery that will last from six months to three years. A smartphone or tablet itself can also act as a beacon.

iBeacon broadcasts three proximity parameters, UUID, major and minor, via Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE). The iOS7 operating system makes working with such transmitters easier. The Proximity UUID is a unique 128-bit identifier; all beacons in a particular group or within a building have the same proximity UUID. Major and minor are 16-bit unsigned integers for numbering beacons within the same proximity UUID. For a network of many beacons, a wireless simulator can be developed to simulate its operation.

Beacon technology is based on Bluetooth LE wireless technology, which is low energy. In late 2009, a version of the Bluetooth wireless technology core specification was released. Its main advantage is its ultra-low maximum power consumption, average power consumption, and power consumption in sleep mode. Devices using Bluetooth LE technology will consume less power than earlier Bluetooth devices.

In many cases, devices can operate for up to three years on a single miniature battery without the need for recharging. The new version of the Bluetooth specification enables a wide range of applications and reduces the end device’s size for convenient use in various fields.

Beacon technology principle

There are three beacons types: 

  1. Universal iBeacon, suitable for use in temperatures ranging from -20 °C to 60 °C.
  2. ToughtBeacon, housed in a polycarbonate case, specifically for use outdoors and in harsh weather conditions.
  3. CloudBeacon uses cloud technologies in its work and allows you to manage a large number of beacons simultaneously.

Beacon protocols

Bluetooth beacons have different rotation protocols and are provided by different companies. These protocols are almost the same in their role and function, but they have some differences that allow us to distinguish them from each other.

iBeacon

It was the first Bluetooth beacon protocol released by Apple. Hence, it is ideal for iOS devices. Beacon sensors that run on iBeacon transmit a UUID that interacts with a particular application. We at Sannacode use this protocol, and it is straightforward to implement.

AltBeacon

This protocol was launched after iBeacon in the year 2014. It was the first-ever open-source protocol for a smart beacon. Since it is open-source, it is compatible with all operating systems, i.e., Android, IOS, Windows, etc. This protocol also has increased flexibility, which allows us to use this protocol to execute the custom source code.

Eddystone

This protocol is provided by Google and has many more features than any of its competitors. Additionally, this protocol allows us to transfer three types of structures, i.e., TLM, UID, and URL. This protocol works with both Android and iOS. Moreover, this protocol has the best characteristics of both previous protocols.

Beacon Sensor app development сost

Companies like Google and Apple develop protocols and network architectures only for beacons. Beacon sensors are manufactured and distributed by suppliers and companies such as Mokosmart. So, if you want to buy beacons, you will have to turn to such companies to meet your needs. At Sannacode, we help our customers choose the right supplier, provide technical requirements, and monitor the beacons’ quality.

However, any beacon design is not entirely dependent on beacon sensors, but it also depends on your goals and target devices. The costs of developing a business application will depend on your goals, the type of equipment you use, and the costs associated with maintaining it.

You should develop an application that can grab the attention of your customers. When you are evaluating the cost of mobile app development, you need to look for a reliable supplier with a good reputation.

API must be considered. You will need a CMS or API if you want to manage your lighthouse project effectively. Hence, you should also keep in mind the cost of the API.

Conclusion

If you want to develop and implement beacons in your business, you can contact Sannacode. We will show you all the possibilities of introducing this technology into your business and help you with mobile app development.

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