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BLE Beacons

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A beacon is a small wireless device that constantly broadcasts radio signals to nearby smartphones and tablets. Mobile apps can listen for that signal and, when they receive it, trigger a location-based action.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is the signal emitted by beacons, and it’s important for two reasons. First, it transmits radio waves, which can penetrate physical barriers like walls, unlike WiFi or cell signals, which are often disrupted. Secondly, BLE consumes only a fraction of the battery power that traditional Bluetooth utilizes.

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.

Beacons are also used to reduce the time to first location fix and in areas with minimal magnetic variance. They provide the most accurate navigational experience using the earth’s geomagnetic field and your phone’s compass.

Beacon requirements

Purple is able to use any BLE beacon provider, battery powered or inbuilt in AP’s as long as you configure the following:

  • The iBeacon packet on every beacon

  • Associate each beacon with a point on the map

  • Assign each beacon a unique set of data:

    • UUID exists and is unique to the facility

    • Major identifies the floor, 96-99 is reserved for non-numerical floor numbers, such as external grounds or basement; 0 cannot be used.

    • Minor identifies the beacon on the floor and is a sequential number beginning with 1. The minor cannot be repeated on the same floor.

    • Transmission interval is set to 300ms

Beacons do not require access to any addresses or networks once configured, they are set to only broadcast the UUID, Major and Minor and they do not receive any incoming data.

Android and iOS use beacons to improve position accuracy and reduce the time to first fix. However, Beacons are required for iOS positioning as WiFi positioning is blocked by Apple.

Purple use two main battery powered beacon suppliers:

When the beacons are installed and set up, there are no (firmware) updates made to the beacons. When battery life reaches <20% we would plan to replace the battery/beacon. The beacons per m2 depends on the environment, we tend to place beacons approximately every 50 - 70m in "fingerprinted" areas.

Estimote

Estimote is the beacon manufacturer most used by Purple for indoor routes. Purple use the Estimote App (iPhone or Android) to set up the beacons with only direct communication between phone and beacon.

BLE Packets

iBeacon

Default Battery Life

3 Years, Maximum Battery Life – 5 Years

Radio

Bluetooth 5.0

Battery Type

AA - LR6 Size M - 1.5v Alkaline *2

Max Range

100m

Thickness

25mm

Length

69mm

Width

46mm

Weight

86g

Kontakt

Kontakt is the beacon manufacturer most used by Purple for Outdoor & Parking Garage routes. Purple use the Kontakt App to set up the beacons (either Android or iOS) with only direct communication between phone & beacon.

BLE Packets

iBeacon

Default Battery Life

(Tx=-12dBm; interval: 350ms) up to 50 months

Radio

Bluetooth 5.0

Battery Type

2x ER14250

Max Range

100m

Thickness

20.5mm (0.80 in) with mounting kit 28.4mm (1.11 in)

Length

50mm (1.96 in) with mounting kit 60.5mm (2.38 in)

Width

50mm (1.96 in) with mounting kit 62.5mm (2.46 in)

Weight

101 grams (3.56 oz)

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