BeaconZone Shipping by UPS Courier

As of today we are all sending orders using UPS Standard and Express services rather than via post office tracked domestic and air mail. This is so as to improve international delivery times, make them more predictable and avoid problems with impending postal strikes.

All UK orders now have next day delivery to business areas. International customers can now select between UPS Standard by road or UPS Express by air. Our delivery web page lists how UPS Standard delivery times vary by country. UPS Express arrives next business day to most European countries and the second business day to business areas in the US and Canada.

FIND Framework for Internal Navigation and Discovery

FIND is an open source indoor locating system for home automation, indoor local positioning and passive tracking. It uses your smartphone or laptop to pinpoint your position in your home or office with a location precision of below 10 sq ft.

FIND uses scanning of WiFi and Bluetooth:

FIND compiles these different signals can be compiled into a fingerprint which can be used to uniquely classify the current location of that device

Read the documentation, the FAQ and source code on GitHub.

Pushcut for iOS Updated

Pushcut, the HomeKit and workflow automation iOS app, has some updates that now allow iBeacon triggered in background. Delayed notifications and ‘do not repeat’ durations are also possible with iBeacon triggers.

Pushcut allows you to execute online actions and web requests in the background providing IFTTT triggers from an iBeacon.

Pushcut is listed in our Solutions Directory.

Bluetooth Low Energy in Noisy RF Environments

Michael Spork, Carlo Alberto Boano and Kay Romer of the Institute for Technical Informatics, Graz University of Technology, Austria have a recent paper on Improving the Timeliness of Bluetooth Low Energy in Noisy RF Environments.

The paper looks into the affect of radio frequency (RF) noise on connection based Bluetooth LE communication and provides a mechanism that significantly improves the time taken to send a message in noisy environments. To be clear, beacon-related scenarios rarely use GATT connection based communication and instead use connection-less communication repeatedly broadcasting short packets on 3 advertisement channels (37, 38, and 39). Connection tends to be used only to set up beacon parameters or for more advanced scenarios where a device such as a smartphone connects to the beacon for bidirectional data transfer to get real time data, for example, more timely motion detection.

The authors distinguish their research as experimentally derived as opposed to analytic (just using calculations). They show how the Bluetooth Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH) algorithm allows Bluetooth devices to blacklist interfered channels and re-transmit packets on different frequencies until interference is avoided.

The paper shows how the AFH algorithm mitigates the effects of Wi-Fi interference near a Bluetooth master by blacklisting channels. An interesting insight is that the master is unable to detect Wi-Fi interference near the Bluetooth slave and is unable to adapt resulting in UDP messages being significantly delayed.

“Our experiments show that BLE connections are eventually able to successfully transmit all data packets, even under heavy Wi-Fi or Bluetooth interference”

The authors demonstrate that by lowering the connection interval in response to changes in the link quality, an application can reduced the average number of packets delayed from 6.18% to 0.54%.

Read about Bluetooth LE on the Factory Floor

Graphical Bluetooth Analyser for Linux

Sparrow is an open source Graphical Bluetooth and WiFi Analyzer for Linux. It provides a 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrum view, listens for Bluetooth LE advertising and tracks advertisement or iBeacons advertisement sources. It can also be used to advertise iBeacon.

Sparrow is useful for advanced users who need to diagnose more advanced problems related to interference or which part of a system isn’t working.

Beacons Inside Products

Products are increasing including iBeacon or more generic Bluetooth LE advertising in order to identify themselves to apps. There’s the recent example of the Tesla 3.

Higher end WiFi access points such as the mesh Linksys VELOP also use Bluetooth for identification in mobile apps. Recently we came across a new wireless security system, AJAX, that also uses iBeacon for identification to apps:

Bluetooth advertising provides a solution to the ‘chicken and egg’ problem of how to connect to a product to set it up, before it has been set up and connected to a (usually WiFi) network.

Using Bluetooth Beacons for Jungle Vehicle Poacher Tracking

There’s new research by Karan Juj and Charith Perera of Cardiff University on Exploring the Suitability of BLE Beacons to Track Poacher Vehicles in Harsh Jungle Terrains (pdf). The paper describes a real world study conducted in a Malaysian jungle that tracks poacher vehicles.

Deep jungle terrain has challenges because GPS doesn’t work, there’s no cellular connection and 100% humidity can hinder wireless signal.

The study mounted Bluetooth beacons beside a road and placed a concealed receiver inside a vehicle:

The researchers tested various types of obstructions that would be faced in deployment and measured the reliability of detecting beacons from under bonnet:

After extensive evaluation, the researchers found that Bluetooth LE beacons can be successfully used in jungle terrains to a track vehicle.