Different Types of Beacons for Real-Time Bluetooth Locating Systems
Beacons based on Bluetooth or Bluetooth Low Energy technology are some of the best and most popular wireless location devices around the world. Because of this, people use it in a wide range of local projects. A major advantage of these devices is that they can be used for a wide range of applications. Whether you want to use it for on-foot navigation, analysis of crowd movements, or asset tracking, you can do it all. This is all possible because of the many different types of beacons.
Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy
The majority of people think that the term “Bluetooth” covers all the forms of Bluetooth connectivity, and it also needs some kind of manual activation through your phone. This is not the case, however; in actuality, there are two primary types of Bluetooth radio devices out there. They are known as Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). However, despite having a confusingly similar name, these types of Bluetooth technologies are incompatible with each other. That’s because each of them uses a unique protocol.
How Do We Use A Beacon?
When using a beacon, you must remember that there are two basic types of applications: The first is client-based positioning, and the second is server-based localization.
For client-based positioning, a user can attach the BLE tags or basic beacons to a ceiling or wall. Once set up, they regularly emit signals that a mobile phone or another BLE-enabled device can detect. A device on the receiving end then directly determines its position with the help of the app.
For the second method of application, server-based localization, users attach the beacon to a mobile asset such as a vehicle or an object that people carry. In this scenario, the Bluetooth signal receiver (such as Gateway hardware) detects those emitted signals. The receiver then forwards the information to a backend processor. The backend then determines its position.
How a Bluetooth Beacon Works
The core conceit of the Bluetooth beacon is quite straightforward. It functions by transmitting packets of data over close-range radio frequencies. A compatible receiving device then picks up this data with the help of a receiver. An important thing to remember here is that these packets of data can contain commands intended to trigger events on the receiving device. Some examples include app actions, prompts, and push notifications.
The beacon has three primary broadcast channels, which makes it faster for the devices to connect to it. As a result, the listening time of the scanning device is reduced as well.
Theoretically, the beacon technology has a maximum effective range of fewer than 100 meters in a radius from the beacon device itself. It also has an expected latency of up to 6ms. But, the actual response time and range depend upon the beacon itself and the processes that it implements.
Mostly, we use these beacons in short-range applications. That’s because the majority of the beacons can reliably transmit data up to 30 meters when not faced with any physical obstructions. However, their typical operating range is around 2 to 5 meters depending upon the power of the transmitter. Therefore, if the range will be higher so will be the battery consumption.
Different Types of Beacons
There are many different types of beacons, with each beacon specializing in its own area. Let’s take a look at a few of these different types below.
The most common type of beacon is the BLE tag. It tracks the location of the mobile objects by being affixed to the object people want to track. This ease of use and mobility of the tag is what makes them suitable for applications such as locating medical equipment in hospitals, vehicles on industrial sites, work equipment in offices, or goods in logistics. Many manufacturers in the BLE tag market offer beacons in different shapes and sizes and with different features, as well. For example, if you want to use a beacon for industrial purposes, you should get a more resilient beacon that has a high IP class.
Wristband Beacons offer extraordinary benefits, particularly in medical service offices. They can be worn by people experiencing dementia to prevent them from leaving the ward or facility all alone. At the point when a patient wearing a wristband moves towards an exit, the staff can be told automatically. The wristband likewise offers additional security for younger users who move around autonomously, for instance on an extended travel session or in a hotel or other lodging. Moreover, you can outfit the wristband with additional sensors which can detect specific events, such as when an elderly user experiences a sudden fall. Wristbands from certain manufacturers may also enable a removal alert, which triggers a message to the receiver when the wristband is cut or otherwise detached.
You may be surprised to learn that nowadays beacons come with environmental sensors as well. You can attach various sensors to a beacon and it will transmit the data collected from those sensors as part of its broadcast. For example, you can install a stationary beacon with a temperature and humidity sensor to monitor the climate of the room. In addition to this, you can also use the beacon with a motion sensor to determine whether a room is being utilized, or the occupancy of an individual desk.
Beacons as ID cards are especially useful for locating and tracking individuals, as they are tiny and can be carried around without any problem. You can utilize them to record interactions at large gatherings like conventions and exchanges. Beyond this, the card can be utilized for security purposes via access control. In the realms of both physical and information security, access control with the help of beacon cards can restrict access to a location or data repository for the purposes of authorization management.