How does Beacon Technology work? – Simple explanation with examples

Working of Beacon Technology

Understanding Working of Beacon Technology:

Beacon technology is one of the new technological advancements which have been made in the 21st Century.

In a series of shorter spam, the Beacon technology has been gaining massive popularity. It is used in almost every aspect of human life.

A beacon, in the context of location-based services, is a small hardware device that enables data transmission to mobile devices within a specific range of the device.

Beacons are often said to work like lighthouses, sending out an intermittent signal that can be detected by an entity within range. Beacons are small computers, roughly the size of a standard Wi-Fi router.

As part of indoor positioning systems, beacons use proximity technology to detect human presence nearby and trigger pre-set actions to deliver informational, contextual, and personalized experiences.

See alsoWhat is Beacon ? and Understanding types of Beacons with its applications

The beacon device itself is incredibly simple. Each device contains a CPU, radio, and batteries, and it works by repeatedly broadcasting out an identifier. This identifier is picked up by your device, usually mobile, and marks out an important place in your environment.

The identifier is a unique ID number that your smartphone recognizes as unique to the beacon. Once connected, the beacon will carry out whatever function it has been programmed to perform.

We will go into more detail later on some of the many functions beacons can carry out. In the beacon industry, such a mobile app is regarded as an iBeacon app, an Eddystone app, or an indoor navigation app.

Put simply, it’s a mobile application that supports beacon technology and is installed on a mobile operating system supporting one of the beacon standards.

Apple smartphones with iOS 7 and higher support the iBeacon standard, smartphones on Android 4 and up use the Eddystone standard. Hence the Eddystone and iBeacon app; “indoor navigation app” is just a more general term.

Beacon is actually a minicomputer having the size of the Wi-Fi router.

It is an indoor positioning system which makes use of proximity tech for fetching the presence of the human around and do the already set actions to bring out the contextual, informational, and personalized experiences.

When the user walks around the area where this indoor positioning system is set, the beacon will send the code to the mobile device of the user through a text message. Well, this message can only be sent in the form of push notification through the mobile app.

See alsoBluetooth vs. Bluetooth Low Energy || Wireless Protocol for IoT

Users receive coded messages from beacons via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) — a power-efficient Bluetooth technology developed for the Internet of Things applications and devices. Moreover, an app doesn’t even have to be running to be awakened by the beacon signal.

On the latter: one of the major differences between beacons and RFID (radio-frequency identification) is that beacon technology allows for more private user experience, as it works only if paired with a mobile app — users stay in complete control and have the option of opting out.

Apple explains iBeacon technology to consumers as the enabling technology for Apple devices to alert apps or websites (which the user has opted into) when someone approaches or leaves a location.

In other words, retail or other venues that have beacons in place can detect where a customer is at any given moment. Then — and this is the key part, of course — the retailer or other business can push timely messages to that customer promoting products or providing other useful information.

Say someone is walking past a retail store; if they’ve downloaded the retailer’s mobile app, the company can use beacon messages to capture their attention as they go by, enticing them to enter. Once inside, beacons can be used to make personalized offers, speed checkout processes and pretty much anything else the retailer can dream up.

Beacons began as devices about the circumference of a large apple; today they’re mere stickers that can be placed on walls or objects.

The smaller and less obtrusive they get, the easier they become to use. Beacons employ Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) wireless technology to pinpoint the location of customers in stores and other places and to deliver messages to their mobile devices.

Specifically, a beacon emits a BLE signal that a retailer’s or other company’s app on a smartphone coming within range of that signal can pick up on.

See also: Top 15 Emerging Internet of Things Trends Shaping Your Future

A big differentiation between beacons and RFID is that beacons are far more private because it gives users control of the apps that leverage the beacon. This also generally means that beacons are authenticated and with user permission, which can ultimately lead to tremendous experiences as a result.

It is difficult to say how popular beacon technology will become; the technology is still relatively fresh off the block and has had its fair share of setbacks.

Upon their release, there was a lot of hype and plenty of promise, yet beacons did not take off as many expected.

However, with Google’s recent plans to make the platform-agnostic and easier for developers to program, we can expect more companies to adopt the technology.

One enormous advantage beacon have is that they are relatively inexpensive in comparison to other technologies, so businesses large and small can adopt the technology with very little risk.

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Featured Image source: Shopify

Feature Image credit: Business Insider

Sura Kazan
Sura Kazan is an engineering student with a keen interest in the Internet of Things (IoT), and its effects on the aerospace and automobile industries.