Getting Started With Beacons

Beacons are devices that use the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol to repeatedly send short transmissions, called advertisements, to mobile devices or other Bluetooth scanning device. Advertisements can contain an identifier and/or sensor data and the brevity of these advertisements allows for battery operated use lasting several years.

In their simplest form, beacons can be used to pinpoint your location. At their most complex, beacons can transmit and receive data from sensors and other beacons. Beacons enable (but are not limited to) the following use cases:

  • triggering relevant mobile content for education and shopping experiences
  • initiating data transfer between a mobile device and usb or OEM beacon at point of sale computer to redeem offers
  • logging and reporting temperature data
  • notifying a quick service restaurant of your arrival for order pickup
  • tracking the location of assets in real time
  • Beacons are essentially broadcasters of data. This data can be static, such as an identifier, public or obfuscated, or data from sensors.

Getting Started With Your Project

Ready to go with your beacon project? Start here for everything you need to get up and running:

  1. Choose the right beacon for your project
    • AA Beacon Our most popular beacon. Longest battery life and full Eddystone EID support with dust and weather resistant options.
    • USB Beacon. More than a beacon. Scan for beacons nearby and two-way communication between a mobile device and host of BLE via the USB beacon
    • Coin Beacon. Compact and powerful. Supports all available Eddystone, iBeacon and BlueCats advertisement specifications with replaceable coin cell battery.
    • BC010 BLE Module. The BC010 can be connected directly to a battery or SMT soldered to a host PCB and is ideal for data logging from BlueCats Sensor Boards while the rest of the system is in sleep mode. The module is perfect for application where battery life, small form factor, RF performance and speed to market are important.
  2. Create a BlueCats account and claim your beacons with the the BlueCats Web App, download the BC Reveal app, which is our management app on Android or iOS
  3. Choose an advertisement format and configure your beacons with the BC Reveal app
  4. Every beacon project is different. Choose your beacon configuration and tools and start building: Install the BlueCats SDK or iOS or Android into your mobile app to enable cross-platform proximity detection and analytics Use your beacons with any iBeacon compatible application or library No app? Eddystone-URL and the Physical Web

Supported Beacon Specifications

BlueCats beacon hardware and Platform provide complete flexibility to choose a beacon format best suited to your application. With BlueCats beacons you can support any of the following open or BlueCats proprietary specifications:

  • iBeacon – Apple’s release of the iBeacon BLE specification and deep native support in 2014 brought beacon technology to the main stream. Still the best choice for many consumer mobile app use cases where support for both iOS and Android devices is required.
  • Eddystone – Eddystone is an open beacon format developed by Google and designed with transparency and robustness in mind. Eddystone can be detected by both Android and iOS.
    • Eddystone-UID,
    • Eddytone-URL (or Physical Web)
  • BlueCats Platform - need to do something not supported by the open beacon protocols? BlueCats have a range of advertisements and BLE libraries to fill the gaps and extend the capabilities of a Bluetooth beacon network.
    • BlueCats Secure
    • Sensor
    • Data Transfer

Edge Relay

The Edge Relay is a customisable gateway that allows you to scan for BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) traffic and send that data to different endpoints. Capture all of your Bluetooth devices in range using the popular formats: iBeacon, Eddystone, and our custom beacons. Control the flow of your data using signal smoothing, filtering, and throttling to get exactly the data you need. Once you have your data, you can communicate it to your endpoints using UDP or MQTT protocols.