New Windows Bluetooth LE Analyzer

Acrylic have a new Windows-based Bluetooth LE Analyzer that can be used to check for and test Bluetooth devices. The application has a scanner showing the Bluetooth signal strength range (RSSI):

It also provides analysis using dynamic and customizable graphs showing RSSI (signal strength), signal distribution over time and approximate device distance. A BLE beacon viewer shows detailed information on Low Energy Bluetooth devices. The BLE Packet Analyzer explores Bluetooth packet contents:

There’s also an inventory system to keep track of your devices. The free version scans, detects iBeacons and visualises signal strength. The licensed version has the packet analyzer, inventory and advanced filtering.

Bluetooth Gateway Demoboard

INGICS, the manufacturer of some of the Bluetooth gateways we supply, has a new open source DemoBoard that can be used to demonstrate and test their gateways.

The software supports M2M (TCP) and MQTT connections.

The dashboard shows the number of messages and beacons:

Clicking on the number of messages shows a log of the received messages:

Clicking on a message shows parsed values:

You can also drill down on the beacons:

INGICS Products

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Are Apple AirTags iBeacons?

While AirTags use Bluetooth (and Ultra Wideband UWB), the Bluetooth transmission isn’t in iBeacon format. The advertising is more complex and involves a rotating key scheme for enhanced security.

The Find My mechanism has been reverse engineered (pdf) by the Secure Mobile Networking Lab of Technical University of Darmstadt.

The researchers have an open source framework called OpenHaystack on GitHub that demonstrates how to create your own tracking tags by installing Bluetooth firmware on Linux, ESP32 or Nordic nRF51.

If you are a manufacturer wanting to use the Find My mechanism, you shouldn’t rely on reverse engineering that can change and should instead join Apple’s Find My network accessory program.

Rapid Prototyping Android Bluetooth Apps

Elektor Magazine has a webinar Rapid Prototyping BLE Android Apps Using MIT App Inventor taking place on June 10, 2021 at 1600 CEST.

MIT App Inventor is a cloud-based tool that allows you to build apps in the web browser. It provides a visual programming block-based environment allowing anyone, even children, to build fully functional apps for smartphones and tablets.

The first 50 registrants are being entered into a raffle to win 10 PIC-IoT boards and vouchers worth €10 and €25 for the Elektor Store.

Next Generation Sign-In Technology Using iBeacons

Our customer, Ostara Systems, have added Bluetooth beacons to their Maintenance Management Solution. Beacons allow engineers to automatically sign-in and prove that they are working on site.

Beacons provide a significant improvement in the sign in process, reducing administration and providing for a quicker and easier sign in using the Ostara app. 1300 Bluetooth Beacons have been installed that are used by over 10,000 engineers.

Contact Ostara regarding their Facilities Management Solution

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Solar Powered Pedestrian Beacons with iBeacon Technology

The Considerate Constructors Scheme Best Practice Hub has a new entry showcasing Solar Powered Pedestrian Beacons with iBeacon Technology. The hub is where UK and Ireland building contractors can showcase best practice.

The system consists of two solar powered belisha pedestrian crossing beacons installed by John Sisk and Son Ltd as part of traffic management plan measures.

Each belisha beacon has a Bluetooth transmitter advertising iBeacon. This allows parameters such as the battery voltage, discharge current and the beacon’s unique ID (UID) to be obtained and controlled remotely using an app.

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Conference Event Visitor Tracking Using iBeacons

As real, physical events come back after the pandemic, systems like Aventri will become useful once again. Aventri is an app-based event and conference guide that increases engagement and provides real-time event performance insights.

iBeacons can be used to trigger an automated message when a user is in range of a booth or other conference location. They can also be used to implicitly measure foot traffic at particular points. It’s also possible to generate lists of who visited each booth.

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Bluetooth Smart Helmet in Mining

There’s new research by Yeanjae Kim, Jieun Baek and Yosoon Choi of the Department of Energy Resources Engineering, Pukyong National University, Korea on a Smart Helmet-Based Personnel Proximity Warning System for Improving Underground Mine Safety.

The system involves a smart helmet worn by walking workers that picks up Bluetooth beacons attached to heavy equipment, vehicles or placed in dangerous zones. The aim is to prevent collisions between equipment and pedestrians in mines.

The bidirectional proximity warnings provide visual proximity alerts that reduce worker mental effort and stress and help to free the hands of workers to maintain work efficiency.

The system uses an Arduino Uno board with Bluetooth BLE module within the helmet. Visual warnings are provided using LED straps.

The use of Bluetooth for proximity safety warnings isn’t new. We have come across similar concepts in power stations and factories where fixed smart lights and/or apps, rather than smart-helmets, are used to improve proximity safety, particularly near blind corners or hazardous areas. We also have clients re-purposing social distancing beacons to provide for simpler systems that warn workers of proximity to vehicles.

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