IBeacon technology was developed by Apple and is built into iPhone and iPad running iOS 7. The technology expands the possibilities of geolocation and opens up new possibilities for location applications, mobile payments, and advertising strategies. IBeacon technology, for example, allows you to develop mobile applications that can find a free parking space for your car in the garage of a shopping center, and then pave the way to the desired store with the product you are interested in.
Features Of iBeacon Technology
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. Signal before him. The detection range, depending on the model of the beacon and obstacles, 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 via Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE). The iOS7 operating system makes working with such transmitters easier. For a network of many beacons, a wireless simulator can be developed to simulate its operation.
IBeacon Application Areas
- Indoor navigation. You can hang lighthouses within the same building on different floors. The map shows the position of a person in a building on a specific floor. Suitable for navigating shopping malls, airports, exhibitions, and conferences
- An interactive tour of the museum. Beacons are installed on a picture or an exhibit; when approaching, information about the exhibit is played on a smartphone.
- Precise positioning in the city. We hang beacons on monuments and architectural objects. The whole city turns into a museum;
- Navigation for the blind. When a beacon is detected, play a voice message where the user is and where to move on;
- Discounts and promotions in stores. A beacon is installed on the rack with the goods. We pass him on the phone receives information about a discount or a promotion.
- Keys and passes: smartphone – a key to an apartment, car, hotel room, or a pass to the office.
Bluetooth Low Energy Technology
IBeacon 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 advantages are 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 to recharge. The new version of the Bluetooth specification enables support for a wide range of applications and reduces the size of the end device for convenient use in various fields.
The technology’s direct competitor is Google’s Eddystone. Google’s Eddystone technology is an open, cross-platform Bluetooth LE format for Bluetooth beacons. Eddystone is a lot like iBeacon, but it’s more open-minded. The main problem with iBeacon is its proprietary nature, which is why it only supports Apple devices. An important difference between Eddystone and its counterparts is the support for several so-called “frame types” (blocks of loaded data). Previous solutions from Apple (iBeacon) and Google itself (The Physical Web) support only one type, which limits their functionality. Eddystone support is already built into the Nearby API on Android as part of Google Play Services. The format can also be used in iOS as a library. Eddystone is available on GitHub under the Apache v2.0 license.
With Eddystone, developers will be able to create more advanced beacons. For example, those that will be able to provide a bus schedule when the user approaches the stop, or those that will allow you to check the ticket when attending an event.
Development of a Mobile Application For iBeacon
Beacons can be used not only by specialized wireless transmitters but also by iOS devices running iOS7 and above. Devices with Bluetooth 4 LE support are suitable, i.e. iPhone 4s, iPad 3, and newer.
We’ll use iPhone 4s as a transmitter and iPad 3 as a receiver. The test devices are iPhone 5 – transmitter and iPad mini 2 – receiver.
We are writing a program in the Xcode 6 development environment, in the Objective-C language.
The second device has the task of transmitting a signal. First, the beacon is initialized using the initWithProximityUUID: major: minor: identifier method. Then the signal transmission starts after the start advertising command is executed.
Testing The iBeacon Application
The plan shows the location of the transmitter and receiver.
The receiver does not record the exact range to the transmitter but records the location in one of three zones: small, medium, high. The receiver recorded three events:
- entrance to the apartment: high range;
- entering a room with a transmitter: medium distance;
- being in the immediate vicinity of the transmitter: short range.
A serious disadvantage is that there are a serious error and time delay for updating information. If you place an obstacle in the path of the signal, the receiver may indicate an exit from the zone. That is why this technology is not suitable for determining the exact distance to the object.
The study showed that technology does an excellent job of positioning inside buildings also claimed by Mobile Application Service, but the technology is completely inadequate for determining the exact distance and is highly susceptible to interference.