Apple’s iBeacon: Location via Bluetooth 4.0

Posted by Sam Churchill on

iBeacons are an indoor positioning system promoted by Apple for IOS-7 devices. On Friday, Apple will begin using the technology at its 254 U.S. stores to send you messages about products, events and other information – tailored to where you are inside, provided you have downloaded the Apple Store app and have given Apple permission to track you.

Companies such as StickNFind and Estimote are already creating cheap iBeacon-compatible hardware. They can also be used by the Android 4.3 operating system or later.

iBeacon uses Bluetooth Low Energy (aka Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Smart) to calculate micro location at key locations around a building. Apple is expected to make the iBeacon protocol public soon.

iBeacon aware apps can perform “Region Monitoring” in the background. When the app is in the foreground or when you wake your iPhone then Apple’s Core Location service can use “Ranging” for a more accurate estimate of how far you are away from the nearest beacon, explains the Automated Home. Electronic leash applications are also well suited to iBeacon/BLE devices.

One London-based company uses iBeacons to sell subscriptions to digital magazines. It also enables an establishment to enable access to full magazines to patrons who come in.

iBeacons can notify a device to send push notifications to devices within close proximity. Any compatible Bluetooth LE iPhone or iPad can be a iBeacon transmitter too. Apple’s Core Motion framework takes advantage of the new M7 chip inside the latest iPhone 5s.

The location is based on signal strength and the results will put your location into one of three states – Immediate (approx 10 centimetres away), Near (approx 2 – 3 metres away), Far (approx 5 – 70 metres away).

Apple has already begun using one implementation of BLE iBeacons with the new ‘bump‘ setup for the Apple TV.

The new 802.11ah Wi-Fi standard, due in 2015 / 2016, has been designed to support the sort of sensor networks suited to Home Automation. It allows low rate 802.11 wireless stations to be used in sub gigahertz spectrum. It uses 802.11a/g specification down sampled to provide 26 channels, each able to provide 100 kbit/s throughput.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 at 11:28 am .

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