W2 Waterproof Test Video

Moko has a new video showing the W2 wearable beacon being placed in water:

The W2 advertises iBeacon, Eddystone and acceleration. It’s rechargeable via USB and can be configured to provide continuous, button triggered or motion triggered advertising.

The acceleration sensor is the STMicroelectronics LIS3DH that’s configurable for scales of up to ±2g/±4g/±8g/±16g.

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Bluetooth Asset Tracking

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.
  • Reliable. Works in electrically noisy situations such as the factory.
  • 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.

Read about Beacons in Industry and the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)

Learn about Asset and Pallet Tracking for Manufacturers

Discover BeaconRTLS™

Unexpected Beacon Solutions

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.

New M52 Plus Bluetooth Beacon in Stock

We have the new M52 Plus in stock. It’s similar to the M52-SA sensor beacon except without the sensors. It’s useful if you just need a standard inexpensive beacon.

iBeacon

This beacon is waterproof, supports iBeacon, Eddystone and custom advertising. The ‘Plus’ means it has a large CR2477 battery which, together with the use of nRF52832, means it it’s energy efficient leading to an long battery life.

Which Beacons are Compatible with iOS and Android?

We often get asked the question which beacons are compatible with iOS and Android. All beacons, whether iBeacon, Eddystone or sensor beacons can be used with iOS and Android. The compatibility is achieved through the implementation of common Bluetooth standards on these mobile platforms.

However, there are some caveats:

  • Android only supported Bluetooth LE as of Android 4.3. Older devices can’t see Bluetooth beacons. Over 95% of users are on Android 4.3 or later so most people can see beacons.
  • Apple iOS doesn’t have background OS support for Eddystone triggering. While iOS apps can scan for, see and act on Eddystone beacons, the iOS operating system won’t create a notification to start up your app when there’s an Eddystone beacon in the vicinity.

Rather than beacons being compatible with iOS/Android, we find that there are more problems with particular Android devices not seeing beacons, when in background, due to some manufacturers killing background services.

Also see Which Beacon’s Are the Most Compatible?

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Differences in Beacon System on a Chip (SoC)

You can find the processor chip in the specification section of our beacon descriptions. Most people don’t know what this means or implies. This article will help you make a more informed choice.

nRF51822 in a round beacon

There are currently three main chip families from Texas Instruments (CC25xx, CC26xx), Dialog Semiconductor (DAxxxx) and Nordic Semiconductor (nRF51xxx and nRF52xxx). These chip manufacturers publish standard electronic circuits and software SDKs that beacon OEMs use for their beacons. Hence, most beacons, within a chip family, have very similar designs. Small differences in implementation of board layout in areas such as the power supply, grounding, terminations, connectors and the antenna can cause electrical differences that can cause loss of power.

The strength of the beacon radio signal is affected more by the quality of the beacon implementation, particularly the antenna, rather than the choice of chip. This is also evident in real world tests. We have performed RSSI strength and stability tests on the beacons we sell and haven’t yet found any correlation between signal strength and chip family.

The choice of SoC affects battery use. Newer chip families such as the Nordic nRF52 (as opposed to nRF51) and Texas Instruments CC2640 (as opposed to CC2541) are more power efficient.

Most beacon SoCs transmit up to +4dBm output power for a longer range. A few such as the nRF52840 and CC2640RF can be set to higher output power of +8dBm and +5dBM respectively, with a consequent reduction of battery life. If you are looking for longer range, it’s more usual to use a long range beacon with an additional output amplifier chip.

The newer SoCs have much more memory. This isn’t used for most beacons except for those that store data.

The use of standard SoC manufacturer designs and software means that all beacons work well, adhere to Bluetooth standards and compatibility is never a problem.

Q3 Nordic Semiconductor Wireless Q Magazine

Nordic Semiconductor, the manufacturer of the System on a Chip (SoC) in many beacons, has published the latest issue of Wireless Quarter Magazine. It showcases the many uses of Nordic SoCs.

It showcases a gym management platform using beacons that analyses equipment and zone use. It also mentions the nRF52 SoC, used in beacons, being used in

  • MEZOO’s ECG monitor that detects heart arrhythmia
  • Xiaomi’s Bluetooth LE smart door lock
  • M Lura Health’s 1000 tooth sensor
  • Escort’s fuel level sensor

Juniper Research reports on how the pandemic is accelerating use of IoT:

IoT connections driven by early industrial deployments and pandemic-driven telemedicine applications are projected to reach 83 billion by 2024, a 130 percent growth rate

There are also articles on using tech to prevent deforestation, wellness tech, smart street lighting and precision positioning.

iBeacons for PeopleHR

A growing number of checkin/checkout systems are using iBeacons. Having an iBeacon at an entrance to a building allows employees to be automatically clocked in and out. It provides confirmation that a worker did actually arrive at a certain place that day.

PeopleHR is one such solution that has information and a blog post on how to set up tap in and out using beacons.

Checkin/out systems use the iBeacon type of beacon because it can be detected on iOS (and Android) even when the app isn’t in foreground.