What is an Estimote Beacon?
A beacon is a small, battery powered wireless device that broadcasts radio signals to your phone. Think of it as a lighthouse emitting light in regular intervals. Mobile apps can listen for that signal and, when they receive it, trigger a location-based action.
An overview of BLE Beacons is available here.
How does the beacon send a signal?
Beacons emit a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signal, which is important for two reasons:
- It transmits radio waves, which can penetrate physical barriers like walls. This is unlike Wi-Fi or cell signals, which are often disrupted.
- BLE consumes only a fraction of the battery power that traditional Bluetooth utilizes.
Why Purple uses Beacons
Each beacon is associated with a point on the map. Beacons are positioned by elevator banks, entry ways and along halls to identify the user’s location. In conjunction with the earth’s geomagnetic field and your phone’s compass, beacons provide the most accurate navigational experience.
Android vs iOS
Android phones can utilize the hospital's existing WiFi access point to automatically detect the initial floor and any floor transitions. Due to WiFi scanning restrictions on iOS, iPhones require beacons for seamless floor to floor navigation. Beacons are not required for Android, but they improve the accuracy and reduce the time taken to determine location.
Best Practices & Setup Overview
- Beacons use a unique naming convention for each facility called the UUID.
- Major is the floor number; 96-99 is reserved for non-numerical floor number, such as external grounds or basement; 0 cannot be used.
- Minor is a unique sequential number used for each beacon on the respective floor. The minor cannot be repeated on the same floor.
- Beacons are placed beside: all elevator banks, entry ways for transitional floors, along halls, and in large open spaces.
- Beacons should be placed approximately 8-10 feet from the floor at a consistent height where possible.
- Estimote Beacons have 3M adhesive on the back of the device. To mount the beacon, remove the adhesive cover and place the beacon on a wall close to the entry point or elevator(s), but high enough that it cannot be touched or easily removed. Press firmly on the beacon for 30 seconds to form a tight bond.
- Facilities support will be required to enable the implementation of listeners.
- Beacons signal strength ranges from 5 - 200ft. The strength and frequency of the broadcast will impact the battery life. The broader the range and the faster the interval, the shorter the battery life.
- Beacon range should be set to the following:
- 50ft near entrances and elevators
- 100ft in long hallways and corridors
- 22ft in large open areas such as atriums and glass walled areas.
- Beacon range should be set to the following:
- Beacons should not be set to their maximum range as they can bleed between floors which can result in confusion for floor detection and battery drain.
Battery Life and Beacon Access
- Estimote battery life with our standard configuration is between 3-4 years per beacon.
- The estimated battery life is available when connecting to the beacon directly with the Estimote app, or the % of battery life can be viewed in the Admin Tool if using Estimote.
Estimote Beacon Setup
First of all, set up the beacon in the Estimote mobile app. Download the Estimote Inc. app using an iOS or Android device:
- Login to the app with credentials assigned to your account. These will be provided to you by Purple
- Open app and press Configurations
- Press List
- The list will display the three closest beacons at the top, then all beacons in range below
On the Android App, you have the option to “Quick connect” by tapping the phone on the beacon you want to connect to:
b. Select a beacon from the list
c. Once connected, the corresponding physical beacon’s led light will blink
d. Press iBeacon on the app and configure the following:
- Enter the UUID (specific to your organization, does not change, noted in client documentation). A generic UUID is pre-loaded. It must be deleted and the client specific UUID added in its place.
- Enter the Major (floor number, use 99 for basement)
- Enter the Minor (chronological number from 1 to XXX for each floor)
- Set the Advertising Interval on iBeacon to between 300ms & 500ms Frequency (300ms preferred).
- Set the Range - Transmit Power (TX) (-8dbm as default)
- Estimote monitoring
- Estimote Indoor Location
- Estimote Telemetry
e. With a marker, write the Major and Minor on the back of the beacon for easy reference during installation.
Next, eEnter the beacon Minor on the PDF Map
- You will be provided a PDF map of each floor that includes circles where beacons should be placed.
- Each floor will have a Major that is the same number as the floor number.
- On the PDF Map inside each circle write down the Minor for the beacon you are placing on the respective floor:
Step 3: Place the configured beacon on the wall.
- Beacons should be placed at least 8 to 10 feet off the floor.
- Remove the sticker from the back of the Estimote beacon and place it in the location indicated on the PDF beacon map.
- Update the PDF map if needed by marking a new beacon position on the map.
- Send the updated map back to the Purple team. They will update and send a final PDF Map for reference.
- All beacons will be entered into the Admin Tool by the Purple team to identify the unmapped areas in the facility.
- Additionally, Estimote beacons will capture battery life and last seen date in the Admin tool.
The Beacon UUID is determined once the first beacon for the facility is configured.
Default Battery Life
3 Years, Maximum Battery Life – 5 Years
AA - LR6 Size M - 1.5v Alkaline *2
IndoorAtlas is used to plan where beacons should be placed.
Purple will manage the setup of IndoorAtlas, though a login can also be provided if required.
Potential locations of beacons are mapped out to determine how to best achieve full coverage. The green background of the location shows the areas that have sufficient signal:
By removing a beacon, we can see that the signal becomes weaker. Yellow denotes that there remains some coverage, but that it could be stronger.
If red shows on the map, this means there is no signal in those locations.