Using Beacons for Race Timing

There’s novel recent research on City Marathon Active Timing System Using Bluetooth Low Energy Technology by Chun-I Sun, Jung-Tang Huang, Shih-Chi Weng and Meng-Fan Chien of Taiwan.

The authors discuss the use of beacons vs RFID and create a system using Received Signal Strength Indicator RSSI and gateways connected to detector mats:

Beacons are carried by athletes. The gateways sync their times via NTP and send data up to a MongoDB database:

An accuracy of ±156 ms was achieved which compares well to the nearest second used to generally record times and resolution accuracy of 0.1s for commercial transponder timing systems.

Cleaner Staff Tracking with iBeacons

There’s a new solution to track cleaning staff that provides app and web source code to implement a cleaning staff tracking system using iBeacons:

Android screens
Web interface

Manage beacons, buildings, zones and broadcast messages. The web interface shows staff activity and allows staff to be assigned to tasks. Staff can update task status and provide notes from their smartphones.

This solution has been added to the BeaconZone Solutions Directory where you can find more solutions that work with generic beacons.

Updated Solutions Directory

We have re-implemented our Beacon Solutions Directory making it easier to use and more up to date:

We have removed listings for solutions that no longer exist, updated solutions that have changed focus and added some newer solutions that use generic beacons.

We found that a considerable number of marketing/retail solutions no longer exist and only the stronger ones remain. This is mainly due to the demise of Eddystone URL.

There’s an upsurge in checkin/checkout solutions presumably partly due to recent ruling by the European Court of Justice that said that EU companies must have something in place to provide an “objective, reliable and accessible system” that allows the duration of time worked each day to be measured.

The use of beacons in visitor spaces is also a growing area with solutions ranging from single use kiosks to event management platforms.

Generally, support for beacons is being added to existing, mature solutions rather than, as previously, new solutions being created solely around beacon functionality.

Building Construction Industry Time and Attendance Tracking

One of our clients Chime Software Limited, part of Wren Construction, is offering a Time and Attendance Tracking system for the building construction industry. It’s a mobile and desktop solution allowing teams to easily collaborate.

The clock in and clock out uses iBeacons. It’s possible to view and authorise timesheets either from your desktop or mobile phone. It’s also possible to take textual and photographic notes for sharing across a team or project.

Using Beacons in Libraries

There’s new research on Book Searching Navigation in Libraries Based on iBeacon Technology (pdf). The paper describes a fingerprinting-based real time locating system (RTLS):

As the authors are in China, it uses WeChat to ensure compatibility and to promote uptake. Apart from helping find books, other uses include calculating user traffic, check-in, welcome information, questionnaires and evaluating seat occupancy.

iBeacons For Disaster Assistance

The Singapore Space and Technology Association has partnered with Airbus to launch a HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) challenge. The objectives are to use latest technologies to aid rescue efforts.

Lee Wei Wen and Lee Wei Juin propose the use of iBeacon to display the GNSS locations of the rescuers with live updates of the rescue plan across different agencies:

Beacons in Shopping Malls

Mr Beacon has an informative new video interview with Janette Smrcka, Information Technology Director at Mall of America. They use beacons to allow visitors to navigate across 520 stores on 5 levels, spanning 4.3 miles and over 5.6 million square feet.

Watch the video to learn about WiFi vs Bluetooth wayfinding and the advantages of mains as opposed to battery powered beacons. You will also learn how Mall of America’s beacon network might eventually be used to track mall assets and for location-based site maintenance.

Devices That Can See Beacons

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.

GatewaysGateways 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.

ArduinoArduino 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.