The FSC-BP103 is popular for use on a key ring or lanyard due to its small size (37.8mm x 33.8mm x 7.9 mm).
It’s also relatively inexpensive allowing it to be rolled out to a large number of people. For example, we have London Queen Mary University Barts Cancer Institute using this beacon with BeaconRTLS to audit room occupancy for Covid. The button is also used as an SOS in the case of lone working.
Many of our suppliers have notified us the current global shortage of chips is starting to hit the Beacon ecosystem. While there isn’t currently a shortage of beacons, semiconductor prices are causing Bluetooth beacon prices to increase.
Stocks we already have in the UK won’t increase in price until we re-stock. We are experiencing special and custom orders being higher in price and/or having longer lead times, depending on the manufacturer. This is a short term problem for 2021 that should be resolved by 2022. However, some in the industry predict it could be two years before new manufacturing facilities can ease supply concerns.
Flutter is a UI software development platform created by Google used to develop cross platform applications for Android and iOS.
There’s a recent plugin flutter_beacon that scans for beacons and can also act as a transmitter. It supports Android API 18+ and iOS 8+. Features include permission management, iBeacon ranging, iBeacon monitoring and transmitting as iBeacon. This plugin is open source on Github.
Nordic Semiconductor, the manufacturer of the System on a Chip (SoC) used in many beacons, has published the latest online issue of Wireless Quarter Magazine. It showcases the many uses of Nordic SoCs.
The pandemic has increased the use of Nordic Semiconductor chips in health oriented devices such as the Warmie continuous infection monitoring device, the AppSens 7 Smart Heart Sensor and the Ellume COVID-19 home testing kit.
Asset tracking market will double from $17 billion in 2020 to $34 billion by 2026
Research&Markets quote in Wireless Quarter Magazine
Tracking highlights include:
Tracking elephants with collars
IOSEA’s proprietary AoA/AoD direction finding platform
How asset trackers are moving beyond location monitoring to sensing
ESP32 are small, low cost Bluetooth/WiFi boards that can be programmed using Arduino IDE. Shogunxam has a project, ESP32 BLETracker that detects Bluetooth LE devices and sends the information to a MQTT server.
The software provides a web interface that allows setting of the devices to be tracked, the scan period, MQTT parameters and viewing of the logs.
WhosOnLocation is a system that monitors the movement of people through buildings and work sites. It allows you to track visitors, contractors and employees providing for the security and safety of sites.
The system can use Bluetooth iBeacons to automatically sign people in and out:
View the WhosOnLocation help desk article for more information how to set up beacons.
Bluetooth tags/beacons detect the position of people and assets. Software maps jobs, valuable tools, parts, sub-assemblies and people onto your floor plans or maps.
The main uses are:
Searching. Knowing the location of something such as a piece of equipment, parts, stock, pallets, a job or person without ringing round. Locating expensive, shared, equipment so fewer spare assets are required to cover an area.
Security. Alerting when people or assets enter or leave an area.
Protection. Detecting quantities such as temperature and humidity for sensitive items that can spoil.
Process Control. Knowing where things have been. Knowing what happened at a particular location. Knowing when measured values exceeded their expected range.
Bluetooth LE is particularly suitable because it is:
Real Time. Better than barcode scans and NFC tags where the data is only as up to date as the last successful manual scan.
Compatible. Bluetooth LE works with existing devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
Inexpensive. Commodity hardware is more affordable than non-standard technologies such as ultra wideband (UWB).
The end result is reduced downtime, less time re-ordering or re-making things that have been lost, optimum productivity and better use of skilled staff doing their job rather than searching for assets and people.
Occasionally, our customers ask for things we didn’t expect, contradictory requirements or requests that require unusual solutions. Here are some examples:
We were once asked for the beacons we considered to be least attractive. The idea was that they were going to be rolled out into a busy public space and would otherwise easily get spotted and stolen. Small, black beacons turned out to be the solution.
We have been asked for beacons that last the longest time. While, we instantly thought about our energy efficient beacons, the best solution turned out to be to use a less efficient, timed beacon set to be on for only a few hours a day.
We are often asked what’s the best beacon for Android (or iOS) development. There actually isn’t a best one as they all advertise similar data. Instead, the best beacons are those that can be easily turned on and off to test triggering.
Some people ask for mains powered beacons. We aren’t aware such products exist. Instead look at USB beacons that can be powered by USB mains adapters.
It’s often the case people want the longest possible battery life and the smallest possible beacon. These two factors are mutually exclusive because a large battery is required for a long battery life. It’s necessary to either decide which is the most important or compromise on both factors.
We are sometimes asked to recommend beacons that have the best iOS and/or Android SDK. In these cases the best SDK is no SDK.
These examples demonstrate what’s right for one project isn’t necessarily right for others. This is why we stock the widest beacon range in the World.