Getting started

ABSTRACT

This document explains the most important concepts to understand what the beacon is, how it works and what iBKS is able to offer in order to fit your requirements.

AUDIENCE

This document is primarily for users who have no experience with beacons and would like to get extensive knowledge on:

  1. What is a beacon?
  2. How it works
  3. Frame definition
    1. iBeacon Frame
    2. Eddystone Frames
    3. Common features
  4. What’s next

1. What is a Beacon?

A beacon is a device that alerts mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, of its presence through radio waves under the Bluetooth 4.0 protocol, well known as Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

As an example, beacon would be like a lighthouse flashing light to ships where, in that case, the ships would be the mobile devices.

Therefore, beacon devices provide proximity-based experiences for users.

2. How it works

A beacon device broadcasts a small quantity of information, called frames, every so often.  When a mobile device is close enough and receives this information, if an app recognizes it as its own then a specific action can be triggered by:

  1. Proximity: it depends on the distance to a beacon.
  2. Area: an action is triggered on entering or exiting a region area.

For example, let’s imagine a customer is in a bookshop and passes through an aisle where a beacon is placed and suddenly he receives a notification in his smartphone with a voucher to get a second book at 50% off.

Voucher example

Here, the beacon acts just as a trigger and the app executes the action of showing the voucher to the customer. Depending on the action that needs to be executed, it can be stored in the app or ask a cloud for the action to be executed and the necessary data to do it.

The first version of beacon had just implemented the iBeacon protocol developed by Apple and beacons were just available to broadcast a single frame, which is a Universally Unique IDentifier (UUID). Through this protocol, the user is allowed to configure this UUID, calibrate power, transmit power, advertise an interval, create a password and other features such as check the beacon battery level in real time.

Nowadays, as the complexity of applications together with the demanding solutions has increased, new beacons are able to broadcast more than one frame at the same time, and, also, new kinds of frames, a part of the iBeacon one, have been developed by Google under the protocol called Eddystone which keeps the same features of iBeacon protocol but introducing several new ones.
Beacon slots advertise
Every different frame advertised, in the time spectral meaning, is called slot and iBKS allow broadcasting up to 6 slots (2 iBeacon + 4 Eddystone) concurrently.

3. Frame Definition

As mentioned, iBKS has implemented two protocols that cover 5 different kinds of frames:

  1. iBeacon protocol with only one kind of frame.
  2. Eddystone protocol with four different kinds of frames.

iBKS Frames

3.1. iBeacon frame

The iBeacon frame is based in the unique identifier information for the beacon. Basically, this unique identifier is divided into 3 hierarchical fields: UUID, Major & Minor.

Usually, UUID defines a specific app and deployment case, major is considered a sub-region of beacons inside the main use case and minor is every single beacon inside a sub-region.

Configurable Attributes:

  • Beacon identifier: UUID, Major & Minor
  • Calibrated Power: means the power received at 1m distances.
  • Advertising interval time
  • Advertising power (Tx Power)
  • Battery level broadcasting: enable or disable feature

Limitations:

  • Maximum 2 iBeacon slots can be advertised concurrently.

Use Case Example:

Example:

iBKS iBeacon frame configuration for the fashion floor of each shopping center:

Location UUID Major Minor
Barcelona 574f524c-4420-5348-4f50-50494e4700 0001 0003
Paris 574f524c-4420-5348-4f50-50494e4700 0002 0003
London 574f524c-4420-5348-4f50-50494e4700 0003 0003
New York 574f524c-4420-5348-4f50-50494e4700 0004 0003

3.2. Eddystone frames

In order to optimize each solution in an accurate way, Eddystone protocol offers four different kinds of configurable frames to interact with apps:

  1. Eddystone UID
  2. Eddystone URL
  3. Eddystone EID
  4. Eddystone TLM
3.2.1 Eddystone UID

Similar to the iBeacon frame, Eddystone UID is based in the unique identifier information for the beacon.

At that point it is interesting to point out that while an app developed for Android is able to interact in background with both frames based in the unique identifier (iBeacon and Eddystone UID), an app developed for iOS can just interact in background with the iBeacon frame.

Compared to the iBeacon frame, the unique identifier is composed by 2 hierarchical fields: Namespace & Instance.

In that case, the namespace defines the use and deployment case, and instance is every single beacon inside the name space group.

Configurable Attributes:

  • Beacon identifier: Namespace & Instance
  • Calibrated Power: means the power received at 0m distance
  • Advertising interval time
  • Advertising power (Tx Power)

Limitations:

  • Maximum four frames can be advertised concurrently.

Use Case Example:

Eddystone UID use caseExample:

iBKS Eddystone UID frame configuration for the food floor of each shopping center:

Location Namespace instance
Barcelona 574f524c442053484f50 00001 00002
Paris 574f524c442053484f50 00002 00002
London 574f524c442053484f50 00003 00002
New York 574f524c442053484f50 00004 00002
3.2.2 Eddystone URL

In some applications where the interaction with physical objects is as easy as just one tap away, the fact of downloading a specific app could not work in the sense that users may think it’s just not worth it. In cases like this, Eddystone protocol provides an URL frame that essentially advertises an URL link.

When a mobile device receives the URL broadcasted by the nearest beacon, a notification list with all the nearby URLs appears as long as the mobile device has any Physical Web-compatible service installed (latest versions of Google Chrome browser integrates physical Web service by default and it can scan for and display URLs by itself).

Configurable Attributes:

  • The URL
  • Calibrated Power: means the power received at 0m distance
  • Advertising interval time
  • Advertising power (Tx Power)

Limitations:

  • Maximum four frames can be advertised concurrently.
  • The URL size is limited. Therefore, a URL shortener service must be used.
3.2.3 Eddystone EID

Ephemeral IDentifier (EID) is the latest frame developed in Eddystone protocol for security. Moreover, it has been created to avoid the risk of being tracked or controlled by malicious third parties when beacons communicate with apps.

Eddystone-EID uses rotating ephemeral identifiers to broadcast a more secure beacon signal that works for Android and iOS devices.

After registering your beacons on a compatible Eddystone-EID platform, beacons can send encrypted and rotating IDs synchronously to the platform. Thereby, despite the fact that the ID is constantly changing every certain period of time, your app will be able to consult an Ephemeral ID to get a unique and registered ID, in order to execute a specific action. For the rest of users who could be sniffing the Ephemeral ID, it will just look like random data with no sense at all.

For further information about how EID works please click here.

Like iBeacon and Eddystone UID frames, EID is also based on the unique identifier information for the beacon, in that case, though, encryption.

Configurable Attributes:

  • Unique unencrypted identifier
  • Calibrated Power: means the power received at 0m distance
  • Advertising interval time
  • Advertising power (Tx Power)
  • New encrypted ID generation period

Limitations:

  • Just one frame can be advertised.
3.2.4 Eddystone TLM

This is a telemetric frame that basically consists in transmitting data about beacon operations and it is useful for monitoring the health and operations of a fleet of beacons. Because of that, it is strongly recommended that this frame be broadcasted less frequently in order to save battery.

Since this kind of frame does not contain an ID, it must be paired with any other frame that provides the ID such as Eddystone UID, Eddystone URL or Eddystone EID.

The telemetric frame provides the following information:

  • Battery level
  • Beacon Temperature
  • A running count of advertisement frames of all types emitted by the beacon since power-up or reboot
  • A timer counter that represents time since beacon power-up or reboot.

Configurable Attributes:

  • Advertising interval time
  • Advertising power (Tx Power)

Limitations:

  • Just one frame can be advertised.
  • If an Eddystone EID slot is enabled, the telemetric data is also encrypted.
3.2.5 iBKS Eddystone slots
  • The iBKS beacon has four Eddystone slots available that can be configured with the following restrictions:
  • From 1 to 4 slots can be set up as Eddystone UID
  • From 1 to 4 slots can be set up as Eddystone URL
  • Just 1 slot can be set up as Eddystone EID
  • Just 1 slot can be set up as Eddystone TLM

3.3 Common features

There are several configurable global services and features affecting both iBeacon and Eddystone frames:

  • Beacon device name
  • 3 beacon connectable modes: no connectable, connectable & connectable window
  • Connectable period
  • Connectable window
  • Firmware update enable
  • Advertising on/off time
  • Lock state under password (This feature belongs to Eddystone service but it also locks iBeacon slot configuration and these common features.

What’s next?

After being introduced to the iBKS beacon, we encourage you to take a step forward:

Download iBKS Config Tool App available for Android (iOS version is coming soon)

Learning more:

Check our FAQs in our support area.

Last modified: November 9, 2016

CONTACT US

Lead Source
Lead Status
Lead Status

Max File(s) size limit is 20MB