Beacons in Digital Signage

Digital signs can be found inside retail stores, shopping malls and increasingly at transit locations and even on the street. A growing number of digital signs use Bluetooth beacons.

Digital sign in a bus shelter

iBeacon transmissions allow digital signs to work with apps. An app detects the Bluetooth transmission and displays appropriate content in the app. This allows the app to react with what’s being shown on the sign and even control the digital sign. A way of achieving two way communication is to have the app send messages back to a server that causes new data to be shown on the smart sign:

If you are a smart sign manufacturer, the easiest way to add iBeacon support is to use a USB beacon. All your smart sign needs is a spare USB slot. Once set up, the beacon is usually ‘Set and forget’ but there are additional interaction possibilities if the smart sign can send out different advertising at different times and thus become a dynamic beacon. This can be arranged by using a USB beacon that can be controlled via a UART COM port. In this scenario the USB port is used for control as well as power.

View USB beacons

Minew USB UART Beacon in Stock

We have a selection of beacons that are powered from USB. However, up until now, very few of them have been controllable via USB.

We now stock the Minew U1 that has a CP2104 USB Serial converter that causes the device to show as a serial COM port device. This allows you to control it from other devices such as PCs, laptops, Linux or Android, as well as from the iOS/Android apps.

Why might you want to do this? Scenarios such as use with digital signage and video walls in shopping malls and stadiums sometimes need the beacon advertising to change in real-time as the display information changes. UART connected beacons allows the beacon advertising to be changed by the host device.