New Tally App

We have just announced our new Tally app that can be used to monitor people or things that have beacons attached to them. It’s suitable for counting groups of people, for example, tour groups and educational classes or finding the wareabouts of things such as stock items, machines or vehicles. It’s also suitable for lone workers and evidence based working.

The app is csv driven in that you can import and export beacons of interest with given names and groups. You can then start/stop monitoring sessions on all beacons, all beacons declared in the app or just beacons in a named group. The results make up sessions of detected beacons that can, again, be exported to csv files. You can also choose to add arbitrary (prompted for) information to a session, for example a description of the location, that you might later use for analysis.

seeking

The power of the app comes from the fact it works in background and can also work unattended, stopping and starting sessions automatically during idle time when detected the beacons haven’t changed. The resulting session csv files can be automatically sent via email or ftp, with queuing for failed sends.

configuration

Here are some examples of how Tally can be used:

Managing Tour Groups: You might set up an Excel file with named grouped members that’s imported into the app. Give each a beacon and set the app to show those beacons that are missing. Start a session and the app will give you the names of those people missing.

Class Registration: Give each student a beacon. Import the student names from Excel and/or dynamically add the named students one by one by allowing the app to add the nearest beacon. Set the app to automatic sessions and email sending. The app will regularly report who is in the room. The app will also send the group if this has been set for the student.

Managing Stock: Put beacons on large or valuable stock items. Import the items from Excel or add manually in the app auto-filling the beacon uuid, major and minor for the closest beacon. Set the app to prompt for extra information at the start of a session. When you need to do a stock check, start a session, enter the room name or area and walk around the room. Stop the session and export the detected beacons. You might also set the minimum signal strength for detection so as to filter out beacons in adjacent rooms.

Evidence Based Working: Some jobs require workers to prove they have been at a particular place at a particular time. Site beacons at the places that need to be visited. Import the named place details and/or set them manually in the app (you can also export this data). Set the app to unattended use and FTP upload and give to the worker. You will receive where the worker has been, with named locations via FTP.

Testing Beacons: Some rollouts, for example at museums, need to regularly walk-test the routes to make sure the beacons are working and battery strength is sufficient. Set the app to detect all beacons and enable the battery monitoring. Walk the museum and all the beacons, with their battery levels will be recorded for the session. Export to Excel, send via email or share the output session file.

Learn more about Tally

New BeaconZone Solutions Directory

We have received so many enquiries as to whether we know of Beacon software solutions for specific tasks that we have decided to start a Beacon Solutions Directory.

We have listed solutions that work with generic iBeacon and Eddystone beacons and implemented as web platforms or stand alone mobile apps. We are continually adding solutions so check back regularly to discover new solution providers.

If you know of a solution we haven’t listed or your company provides a solution, please contact us to get added. Solution providers linking back to us will be featured on the front page of the directory.

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.

New Ruuvitag Sensor Beacon

There’s an interesting new sensor beacon at Ruuvitag.  It provides temperature, humidity, air pressure and acceleration and will be coming soon to kickstarter.

ruuvi

At first sight it doesn’t provide that much more than standard sensor beacons. However, the differentiating factor is that this beacon is open source.

This means that the beacon is not just configurable but also fully user-reprogrammable. For example, you can run proprietary protocols and form mesh networks. The open hardware and software design to allows adaptation for your proprietary solution. Open hardware and software also reduces the risk should you base your system on it and Ruuvitag (the company) no longer support it.

iB004 PLUS Sensor Beacon Available

We now have a limited number of iB004 PLUS beacons in stock with an additional SHT20 temperature/humidity sensor. The iB004 is one of the most commonly used (and re-branded) beacons and the ‘PLUS’ part means it has a larger CR2477 battery rather than the CR2450 in the original iB004. The larger battery means there’s a longer 100m (vs 70m) range and longer battery life.

ib004plus-temp_smaller

The temperature/humidity version has a small hole in the top to allow the environment, external to the case, to be sensed.

Inside the iB001M

Here’s a look inside our smallest beacon, the iB001M. The circuit board measures only 2cm across and the height of the beacon is is only 2.6mm.

ib001m_inside_smaller

The waterproof iB001M can transmit iBeacon and Eddystone at the same time. There’s also a press switch to turn on/off and a buzzer that’s found in the top side of the beacon (not shown) together with the waterproof ring. This beacon can be set up to only transmit advertising data when motion is detected.

It weighs only 4g so is great for wearable and pet-related applications.

Consequences of the Narrow Focus On Retail

Venture Beat has a great article by Kyle Fugere of dunnhumby Ventures on “Why indoor location tech is facing an uphill battle” where he says most beacon/platform providers have focussed on retail and consequently the:

“Refined focus has considerably shrunk the market opportunity for these companies”

He encourages companies to be

“more creative in regards to use cases”

and think about

“Banking, transportation, and live events with a potentially greater need and significantly shorter sales cycle”

We agree. Too many solutions tie beacons with a marketing platform. Also, one beacon type doesn’t fit all scenarios. One marketing platform certainly can’t fit all usecases. For example, a marketing platform isn’t suitable for security and sensing (IoT) applications.

The preponderance of beacon-based marketing platforms has obscured and confused what beacons actually are, due to over emphasis of the retail business benefits or description of proprietary server side CMS features. Many clients coming to us are actually confused.

The excessive competition in retail has caused beacon companies to have to run very lean. There’s noone to really talk to and even if you do get to talk to someone they only know about the benefits but can’t provide technical advice on how to solve your requirements.

Good business is all about listening to customers and adapting solutions. Most current platform providers can’t do that as most have trapped themselves with sparse human resources, narrow technical systems and very restricted ranges of beacon hardware.

Our site provides articles and a wide range of beacons to allow you to take advantage of beacons in scenarios outside traditional retail marketing and into new areas such as banking, security, transportation, distribution, sensing and the Internet of Things.

IP Telephone With Eddystone Beacon

Today, we came across the first IP telephone, by Unify, with in-built Eddystone:

unifyipeddystonephone

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.