One of our customers McPartners in the Netherlands has been using piBeacon with Indigo to provide for home automation on the Mac. You can read their success story on the Indigo forums.
They started using beacon instead of RFID because RFID cards they were using were becoming more expensive than iBeacons and becoming scarce. They wanted tags they could second source, have a long battery life, long range and easy setup.
They have found the Indigo/piBeacon combination reliable, fast and have told us it works with all the Axaet, AnkhMaway and Minew beacons purchased from us.
When people think about beacons they often imagine them being detected in smartphone apps. This post explores other devices that can also see beacons allowing for different interaction possibilities and new scenarios.
Apps – Apps aren’t limited to just smartphone apps. You can run apps on TV boxes that run Android. Just make sure they have Bluetooth 4.3 or later.
Gateways – Gateways are small single pupose devices that look for beacons and send the information on via MQTT or REST (HTTP) to any server. This allows web servers to see beacons.
Desktops and Laptops – PC/Mac devices with built-in Bluetooth or dongles can see beacons.
Walky Talkies – Motorola manufacture the MOTOTRBO range of digital radios that can detect iBeacons and show their location on a map.
Raspberry Pi – This has Bluetooth and can be used to detect beacons.
AndroidThings – This special IOT version of Android can run apps that detect beacons and store and/or forward information to other devices.
Arduino – Arduino boards often have Bluetooth and can do things based on the presence of beacons.
Other Beacons – Some specialist beacons such as the Puck.js can communicate with other beacons.
Pixl.js – The manufacturer of the Puck.js also supplies a device with a screen that can detect and interact with beacons.
Single Board Computers (SBC) have an advantage over gateways in that data can be cached locally when there isn’t an Internet connection. They can also make decisions locally and send out alerts directly rather than having to rely on a server. This is so called ‘IoT Edge’ computing.
Locative, the home automation location trigger app/service, has recently announced it’s shutting down.
Locative allows you to create geofences that result in HTTP requests to the server when you enter or leave defined regions. While it’s a hobby type thing and the author did this as a hobby, the resulting apps and web service might be used for proof-of-concepts outside home automation. The iOS app, Android app and server are now all open source. The Locative developer page documents the API that you might want to save before the author shuts down the service mid May 2017.
If you are interested in using beacons in home automation, it’s worth looking at Happy Bubbles. It’s hardware and a server that allows you to automate things happening in response to beacons being detected.
The concept is very similar to using a gateway with our generic beacons. In fact, the Happy Bubble ethos is similar to our own:
“Happy Bubbles is a different kind of IoT company. The happiest bubbles are the ones you create for yourself, not ones that others force you into. We believe that the products you purchase are your own and should be accountable to you, not the company that made them. … They are designed to run on your own network and not rely on other people’s ‘cloud’ services unless you want them to. Know exactly what you’re getting and what it’s doing on your network.”