Indoor navigation with beacons (the most common types are the iBeacon and Eddystone) offer decisive advantages for projects that are dependent on high accuracy and want to include Apple devices. Beacons are typically transmitters in client-based methods. For example, they enable indoor navigation for airline passengers using the app - cross-platform and with an accuracy of up to 1 meter. The server-based beacon tracking of persons or goods is only possible with third-party components (e.g. infsoft Locator Node, Cisco, Aruba).
When you use beacons for indoor navigation, temporary installations, e.g. for exhibitions and in unusual locations are also possible. Mounting the beacons is simple and extremely flexible. The housing is available in different colors so that devices can be installed discreetly. The Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology enables battery operation over two to eight years without having to access an external power supply. Beacons can also be connected to the power supply or use the power supply from the lighting. Paper-thin beacons with a printed battery are ideal for very discreet and space-saving installations, for example, on ISO cards or on advertising materials. They have a battery life of three to four days. The Beacon Management tool integrated into infsoft systems makes beacon management and monitoring easy.
Bluetooth beacons are small radio transmitters that send out signals in a radius of 10-30 meters (interior spaces). The advantages of beacons are obvious: They are cost-effective (three to thirty euros), can be installed with minimal effort, determine a position accurately up to 1 meter and are supported by many operating systems and devices. The new BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) standard is also very energy efficient. Beacons can be used for both client-based as well as server-based applications. With beacons it is possible to detect the current floor.
If the positioning data should be directly displayed on a mobile device (smartphone), the smartphone receives Bluetooth signals from beacons installed in the building and uses the signal strength measurement for localization. The device can also transfer the data to the infsoft LocAware platform®, where it is intelligently processed. The accuracy of a client-based procedure is 1-3 meters, the range up to 30 meters.
In the case of a server-based positioning, the beacon attached to the asset to be tracked sends BLE signals to infsoft Locator Nodes that are installed in the building. The Locator Node processes the provided data and sends it via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or UMTS to the infsoft LocAware platform®. Here, the position is displayed on a map and motion statistics can be retrieved. The accuracy of a server-based procedure is less than 8 meters, the range up to 75 meters.
Bluetooth beacons normally do not affect other radio networks (interference) and they also do not interfere with medical devices. However, if you install beacons in a space with lots of Wi-Fi signals (for example, at a trade show), then interference can occur because BLE and Wi-Fi share the same frequency range (2.4 GHz). The problem can be easily avoided here by not using channels 2, 3, 4, 13 and 14 when configuring the Wi-Fi and using 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 instead. Bluetooth uses the remaining available channels to capacity in a uniform manner (frequency hopping). Advertising channels that are used for positioning are marked in red in the graphic. The blue-colored channels are reserved for additional functions such as a temperature sensor.
There are multiple application scenarios for indoor positioning with Bluetooth Low Energy beacons. Here are some examples:
BLE beacons can be attached to valuable or expensive objects. When a beacon leaves a defined area (geofencing), an alarm is triggered or security receives a notification. Software solution used: Indoor Tracking, Indoor Location Based ServicesSensors used: Bluetooth Low Energy (beacons)Example of use: Investigation of Bicycle Theft
Employees and visitors in large buildings can be equipped with a beacon (ID card format). In case of an emergency it is then possible to determine the number and position of people still in the building and to evacuate them. Software solution used: Indoor TrackingSensors used: Bluetooth Low Energy (beacons)Example of use: Evacuation of Employees and Visitors
Each object that should be tracked is equipped with a tiny beacon sticker. The position and characteristics of the objects (department, purchasing date, value, etc.) can be displayed in a web interface at any time. Software solution used: Indoor TrackingSensors used: Bluetooth Low Energy (beacons)Example of use: Inventory of Economic Assets on Company Premises
Beacons enable indoor navigation for airline or rail passengers. Using an app, they can easily find the right gate/track or important points of interest such as cash machines, rest rooms and ticket counters. This works with Android and iOS devices. Software solution used: Indoor NavigationSensors used: Bluetooth Low Energy (beacons)
Try the infsoft beacon calculator to get a rough idea of the number of beacons required for your client-based indoor positioning project.
Please be aware that the amount of beacons depends on various factors, such as industry, desired accuracy, parameterization and local structural conditions.
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