Today, we came across the first IP telephone, by Unify, with in-built Eddystone:
You might wonder why you might want to transmit a URL or Eddystone id from a telephone. Maybe it could point to instructions how to use the phone or more details on the person who sits at that desk. However, you probably need to think wider and imagine it as a beacon that could be providing information about anything in the surrounding area – think indoor maps, indoor navigation or how to find the nearest ‘whatever’. For example, if the telephone belongs a restaurant it could be sending out the URL of a menu or a site with self-service ordering. In some ways it’s similar to the Cisco Meraki WiFi access point in that installing something ubiquitous like a phone or WiFi access point provides the opportunity to also easily create a beacon network.
We expect to see beacons being embedded in a larger range of electronic devices.
Beacons with an on off button are popular for product/app development because they allow testing of going into and out of range without actually physically doing so. They also allow the battery to be turned off to save power when the beacon isn’t being used for testing.
However, don’t solely rely on the button for edge detection. Actually do some tests at the edge of the detection area. Determine how your app behaves as it continually sees the beacon appear and disappear, particularly on Android where, unlike iOS in background, the OS doesn’t impose a period that a beacon has to be out of range before it’s considered seen again. On iOS, also test at the edge of detection when the app is in background or not.
We have recently added a web store category for beacons with an on off button.
We have been asked a few times, which beacons are compatible with the Physical Web app.
The Physical Web is an open source project, championed by Google, that uses Bluetooth beacons to transmit a URL. The URL can point to anything, but this is typically a web page. In theory, an app is no longer required. However until (or if ever) this is baked into operating systems, you still need an app or a web browser that’s listening for the advertised URL.
There are currently Physical Web clients (apps) for iOS and Android. Chrome (including for iOS) and Opera support the detection of Bluetooth Physical Web URLs.
Eddystone-URL is used for the Physical Web URL. Hence any beacon that supports Eddystone can be seen in the Physical web app.
We have a new very long range beacon that uses a range extension power amplifier circuit to reach 200m outdoors and 50m indoors. This beats the Forecum 201 that previously held the record for the longest range in our BeaconZone tests.
The beacon is powered by 2 AA batteries and can be mounted on the wall with the supplied screws or 3M sticker.
We now have a some watch style beacons in stock. They transmit iBeacon and the ‘face’ is small at 2.5cm. Internally, they use a Dialog DA14580 that’s the most power efficient chip for beacon solutions and have x6 the battery life of TI CC254x based-beacons.
We often get asked the question which beacons are compatible with iOS and Android. All beacons, whether sold by us or purchased elsewhere can be used with iOS and Android. 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 both iBeacon and Eddystone beacons.
- Apple iOS doesn’t have background support for Eddystone. While iOS apps can scan for, see and act on Eddystone beacons, the iOS operating system isn’t going 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. There are also problems with iOS background triggering.
Also see Which Beacon’s Are the Most Compatible?
We have started selling the twin AA battery AKMW-iB004N AA. It works the same way as other AnkhMaway beacons in that to configure it you tap it onto a table or something hard to make it ‘ring’.
It’s also worth mentioning that this and all AnkhMaway beacons come with Panasonic rather than cheaper Chinese brand batteries.
The PC023E is back in stock. It’s our least expensive waterproof beacon, part of our R&D range, that supports both iBeacon and Eddystone. The loop at one end and its good looks make it suitable for use as a wearable beacon. There’s also a coin operated compartment at the back that makes it easy to change the battery.
We have a few Jnhuamao HM-10 come into stock. The HM-10 is a bare board beacon that you can configure via UART. You can either embed it in your electronic project or set it up via the desktop using a USB to TTL RS232 serial adapter. Once set up, it behaves just like an iBeacon.
We went to great lengths to source a genuine HM-10 as there are many fakes around that aren’t fully functional. There will be more coming into stock towards the end of the week and we will continue to stock if popular.
There have been a number of enquiries asking which beacons support iBeacon and Eddystone simultaneously. We have added a new ‘simultaneous’ category on the store.
Note that, in actual fact, no beacon can send iBeacon and Eddystone simultaneously and instead the advertising data is sent in two channels one very shortly, milliseconds, after the other.
Eddystone is becoming more popular and companies are starting to use Eddystone-URL to lead users to download apps that, in turn, use the iBeacon protocol.