Beacons Introduction

Beacons Introduction

Basic concepts:

Beacons are devices that broadcast a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) radio frequencies. This is detected by BLE compatible smartphones.

MOCA supports two Bluetooth Beacon protocols: iBeacon and Eddystone. In this article we'll talk only talk about Bluetooth Beacons with the iBeacon protocol for ease of understanding.

When a smartphone enters the range of a BLE Beacon, it registers it and notifies the apps that are “listening to” this event. This allows for individual triggering, or even indoor location using more than one BLE Beacon. The typical ranges are a minimum diameter of 0 metres and a maximum diameter of 70 metres. Conditions and hardware can alter this.


Beacon Suppliers

MOCA is a beacon agnostic platform. This means that we work with any iBeacon or Eddystone protocol beacon. This opens many options as the market has many providers.

Currently Beacon suppliers have hardware devices ideal for different needs and scenarios. For example, beacons with extended lifespan, ultra durable for external usage, USB powered beacons or even Solar powered. Some even act as three beacons at the same time. 


Beacon Calibration

The transmission power (RSSI) of the Beacons usually can be modified, which affects the broadcast range. They also usually allow for refresh rate configuration (Hz/ms). This will be the amount of times per second the beacon broadcasts. The Beacon manufacturers usually deliver the Beacons with a default average range and refresh, but offer ways to increase/decrease these values as they affect the battery life.


Placement of Beacons

Here are some recommendations for the placement of Beacons:
1. Determine the circular area you want to cover with the Beacon and locate the center point to place the beacon there.
2. Use the MocaApp or the manufacturer's app to see how far the Beacon signal is detected and whether it matches the desired radius. If so, use the manufacturer's app to increase or decrease the signal strength of the Beacon. 
3. Since the signal is circular, it must be taken into account that it could be seen on upper or lower floors, so height and power might need to be adjusted.
4. The iOS Operating System notifies the Apps that they have entered in a range of a Beacon only if it has the UUID or Major parameters different from those it has already detected around it. This must be taken into account when defining detection zones as it can cause unexpected behaviour.


Uses Cases

The number of Beacons required will depend on the purpose of the use case:

Detection of App Users in the physical store

Objective: To know if the user has entered in a specific physical store.

• Place a Beacon for each entry. You can create a single zone with two or more beacons giving them the same UUID/Major/Minor.
• Configure the beacons to have a high transmission power. The higher, the bigger the range they cover.

Experiences in different zones

Objective: Send different messages according to the zone where the customer is.

• Leave a separation between areas of effect of the beacons. Some objects can amplify the signal.
• In case of creating Zones with several Beacons to cover a larger area, it is recommended to put a Beacon every 250 m2, which implies a separation between Beacons of about 18 meters.
• If you want to cover a complete store or venue, also calculate a Beacon every 250 m2 (For example: for heat maps, gamification, etc.)
• Remember that for iOS you have to take into account the values of UUID and Major of the Beacons.


Indoor navigation

In the case of requiring indoor navigation, a rigorous calibration must be carried out by a specialized company such as Polestar or OnYourMap. C


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