Google’s Proximity Beacon API

Most beacon platforms are fairly limited in that they are designed around retail marketing scenarios. If you are creating a non-retail marketing solution you might want to look into Google’s little publicised Proximity Beacon API. It allows you to register beacons and have arbitrary data, called attachments, associated with them. What’s more, it supports the registration of iBeacon as well as Eddystone beacons and you can use it free of charge.

The usual usecase is setup via Google’s console followed by update from apps detecting beacons. Android and iOS example are available.

It’s not always apps that are used to detect beacons. For example, you might have a single board computer such as the Raspberry Pi or Bluetooth-WiFi gateway detecting beacons and a web front end managing and monitoring the beacons. Google also provides example scripts that show how other entities can be used to register, list and filter beacons. Alternatively, other entities might even call these scripts.

The storing of arbitrary data allows the proximity Beacon API to be used for scenarios beyond retail marketing such as sensing with sensor beacons and real time locating (RTLS).

BeaconZone at IoT Thames Valley Meetup

We were exhibiting at the IoT Thames Valley Meetup on Wednesday:

Our stand at IoT Thames Valley Meetup

Here’s what happened with a few insights from the presentations:

Richard Fargus, Managing Director, Voytech Systems spoke about ‘Commercial Deployment of IoT solutions in Building Monitoring
and Control’. He mentioned how, using TCPI/IP over cellular is very inefficient. For example, 2 bytes of data can balloon up to 5000 to 1000 bytes which can be costly.

Richard Kinder, VP, Head of Product Marketing, Wirepas covered ‘Industrial IoT requires fit for purpose connectivity’. He spoke about wireless mesh networking. He mentioned how increasing the Lora power in an urban environment gives negligible improvement in range.

Nick Baker, Director, Adaptive Wireless Solutions gave ‘Wireless IoT – lessons learned from industrial implementations’. He spoke about 2.4GHz mesh networks used for various clients. He emphasied the need for solutions to be reliable and easy to implement. He also mentioned (the recurring theme) that there’s no one vertical market or solution.

Richard Foggie, Executive Knowledge Transfer Network, spoke about IoT networking and funding opportunities from the Government KTN.

Mike Bartley, CEO T&VS gave a talk on ‘Avoiding the Internet of Insecure Things’ via test and certification.

Leonard Anderson, Kemuri Limited, presented his IoT Power Sockets.

Graham Kitteridge gave a lightening talk on Think Engineer, who create custom hardware prototypes.

Bluetooth at the London IoT Tech Expo

We visited the IoT Tech Expo today in London. The event seemed to be about twice the size of last year’s smaller IoT TechExpo which shows the growth in interest in IoT. Also, it’s the first time there’s a presence by one of the IT ‘heavyweights’, Microsoft. However, the large number of IoT platform providers exhibiting doesn’t bode well for that particular sector. They can’t all survive. We found the Tech Expo a bit strange in that it has some end-user, consumer IoT solutions exhibiting next door to components suppliers, industrial sensors and software suppliers. The IoT Expo doesn’t really know yet what it is or rather who it is targeted at – much like IoT we suppose.

Here’s what we saw that was Bluetooth LE specific:

  • As with last year, bean iot where showing their sensor Bluetooth LE bean. They are now showing actual working beans rather than printed circuit boards. They also have a backend showing sensor data from the beans.
  • Blue ID were promoting their secure access solutions.
  • Advantech were showing their IoT Gateway Solutions that support Bluetooth.
  • Insight SIP were exhibiting their Bluetooth LE modules.

New INGICS Bluetooth Sensor Beacons

We have some new INGICS Sensor beacons in stock.

These are slightly different to our other beacons in that they don’t transmit iBeacon or Eddystone. Instead the Bluetooth advertising is wholly used for sensor and battery information. Hence, they are more suitable for sensing, security and IoT applications rather than retail-marketing type scenarios.

There are 4 models:
iBS01G – movement/fall sensor
iBS01H – magnetic (hall) sensor
iBS01RG – (raw) accelerometer sensor
iBS01T – temperature and humidity sensor


They derive power from 2xCR2032 or via a micro USB smartphone charger (not supplied). They all also have a detectable button press. While the manufacturer’s app shows the sensor data, you will probably need a custom app or gateway to scan and use the advertising data.

System-based Beacon Detection

The majority of beacon-based solutions are app-based and trigger information to be displayed to the user in response to being near specific beacons. If you read many platform provider sites you might think that’s all beacons can do. However, beacons are a technology and not solution. Beacons provide for many types of solution.

Another type of solution is the accounting for things (with beacons attached) within a larger system. Examples include class registration, stock checking, asset tracking, security and lone worker positioning. In these cases the thing that detects beacons can be can be an app or hardware.

The app can be relatively simple and scan for particular beacons and save information to a file and/or send them on to server. We recently implemented such a system for Malvern Instruments, with custom pre-configured beacons, that also allows search for particular ‘lost’ beacons:


In the cases where the beacon detection doesn’t or shouldn’t move around, it’s possible to use gateways to forward on detected beacon data to a server.


IGS01 Wifi Beacon Gateway

Several of our clients are using this type of architecture to provide for automatic human registration/rollcall type solutions.

We believe even greater opportunities exist for IoT scenarios where sensor data in beacon advertising can be automatically forwarded on to servers.

Beacons and the IoT Value Chain

There’s a thought provoking article at the news arm of the GSMA, Mobile World Live. It quotes Nokia who think that applications are set to dominate the IoT value chain.

This isn’t applications, as in apps, but platforms, systems (and sometimes controlling apps) that create ecosystems for specific vertical needs. Nokia said:

It’s not the iPhone selling at $800 that’s going to make IoT grow, it’s going to be the devices and sensors that are sub-$10

Today’s sensor beacons are early devices upon which we can start building these IoT ecosystem applications.

More Silicon Manufacturers Eyeing Bluetooth LE

Following Toshiba, silicon manufacturers are becoming more active in the Bluetooth LE space. STMicroelectronics have announced their Latest SoC, the BlueNRG-1 and Fujitsu have announced the FWM7BLZ20 module.

The BlueNRG-1 has a SPI interface to communicate with an application processor suggesting use within other larger hardware systems while the Fujitsu FWM7BLZ20 is a pre-certified module with integrated antenna, based on the Nordic nRF52832, allowing you to get to market quicker.

While these new products are suitable for beacon related products, their use is more likely to be targeted at Bluetooth LE IoT applications.

New ASensor Beacon

We have the new ASensor beacon in stock. This is our smallest sensor beacon measuring only 37.3mm x 37.3mm x 7mm and it uses the power efficient Dialog DA14580 that gives up to 1.5 years from a CR2025 battery.

The beacon supports iBeacon, Eddystone or sensor advertising. For sensor mode, the temperature, acceleration and battery level are in the advertising data.


Wireless iBeacon Receiver in Stock

We now have the AprilBrother Wireless iBeacon Receiver in stock.


The Wireless iBeacon Receiver receives (any manufacturer) beacon advertising broadcasts and sends them on via MQTT via your WiFi access point. It can scan for multiple beacons at the same time and provides updates up to 1 per second.

This device can be used to monitor the health of beacons or in other usecases whether beacons have come into range or out of range.  It can also be used with sensor beacons in IoT-type scenarios.

BeaconZone Mentioned in SD Times Article

sdtimesThe SD Times has a new article, by Alexandra Weber Morales on Why developers are sitting pretty for IoT.

The article explains how mobile developers such as ourselves are moving to the IoT and how beacons are part of the IoT. Other important areas for IoT are (big) data and security. The article concludes with several ways to get started and explore the IoT.

You might also like to read an article on Beacons and IoT that we wrote on LinkedIn last January.