Nearby is a service developed by Google for Android devices to receive beacon signals. Nearby is the reason why Android phones don’t need an app to receive beacon notifications. When beacons broadcast an Eddystone data packet, the Nearby service in Android phones detects the packet.
The Eddystone protocol with the help of Nearby service enables proximity marketing for businesses who don’t have their own app.
Deploy beacons => smartphone detects BLE signal => ID number sent to cloud server => Server responds accordingly => Assigned notification displayed => Beacon notification drivers sales
A beacon with Eddystone protocol is simply broadcasting a signal with a data packet. This data packet is detected by a smartphone to trigger the corresponding actions. Under this protocol, a data packet would contain four pieces of information:
① Eddystone-UID: A unique ID with a Namespace component (10-byte) and a Instance component (6-byte).
② Eddystone-URL: A compressed URL that has to be decompressed to be used by the client.
③ Eddystone-TLM: This contains the status data of a beacon e.g. the battery status, the temperature of the beacon etc.
④ Eddystone-EID: It is a time-varying beacon frame which can be resolved to a stable identifier using a linked resolver.
Google rolled out Eddystone in July 2015. It is available as an open-source protocol in Github. The protocol was named after the Eddystone Lighthouse in the UK, as the technology mimics the one-directional nature of a lighthouse-signal and its simplicity.
Eddystone is an open communication protocol developed by Google. Services on smartphones, scan for Eddystone URLs and display the content, whether they have an app installed or not.
|Apple’s iBeacon||Google’s Eddystone|
|Technology||iBeacon technology is a beacon protocol that has been built into Apple’s iOS 7 and later versions of mobile operating system that allows iPhones and iPads to constantly scan for Bluetooth devices nearby. Beacons use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) which is a part of Bluetooth 4.0 specification.||Google’s Eddystone, formerly called UriBeacon, is a beacon protocol for open-source beacons which could be manufactured by any business at an affordable cost.|
|Compatibility||It is Android and iOS compatible, but native only for iOS.||It is Android and iOS compatible. In fact, it is cross-platform and thus is compatible with any platform that supports BLE beacons.|
|Profile||It is a proprietary software. Thus, the specification is controlled by Apple.||It is open-source. The specification is published openly on GitHub, under the open-source Apache v2.0 license, so that businesses and developers can access and contribute to it.|
|Ease of use||It is simple to implement.||It is flexible but requires more complicated coding when it comes to integration, since it sends more packets of information than iBeacon.|
|Broadcasted packets||Each beacon broadcasts information which is identified as a packet. iBeacon broadcasts only one advertising packet which has a unique ID number comprising of three parts – UUID, Major, and Minor.||Eddystone broadcasts three different packets:
(i) a unique ID number (Eddystone-UID) – It is fundamentally identical to that in iBeacon. All beacons that broadcast Eddystone-UID are registered in Google’s database.
(ii) a URL address (Eddystone-URL) – It tells the smart device to open a URL. That way, it does not require a particular developer’s app to be pre-installed. Additionally, it also works as a factor to push location-specific app installs.
(iii) sensor telemetry (Eddystone-TLM) – It sends sensor data. This is extremely useful for companies that need to manage vast fleets of beacons since this frame type sends diagnostic data and beacon health statistics.
|Usage||UUIDs, one of the components in the advertising packet, are basically tied in to the developer’s server. Therefore, when it is sent to a smartphone, the device would need a specific app to do a particular task with the information received. Therefore, a mobile app is necessary to receive messages via iBeacon.||Eddystone, on the other hand, sends out URL in place of UUID, which can simply open in a web browser vis-à-vis specific apps. For iOS devices, it is supported by Chrome with the ‘Today’ notifications enabled, whereas for Android devices, it is supported on the ‘Physical Web’ browser.|
|Security and Privacy||There is no specific feature such as Ephemeral Identifiers (EIDs) in iBeacon. The signal transmitted by a beacon is a public signal and can be detected by any iOS device and certain Android devices with proper specifications.||Eddystone has a built-in feature called EIDs that constantly change and allow beacons to broadcast a signal that can only be identified by ‘authorized clients’.|
|API||Apple has no specific API made available for iBeacon fleet management. Application Program Interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. It specifies how software components should interact.||Eddystone has an advantage here since Google has launched two APIs (Nearby API and Proximity Beacon API) that makes Eddystone beacons more powerful. These APIs also make beacon fleet management much easier.|
Despite the existence of other proximity marketing technologies like the NFC, RFID, GPS, and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth beacons are dominating the market. Here are the reasons why:
① Advantages of iBeacon over GPS
iBeacon are more accurate
iBeacon are faster
iBeacon consume less power
iBeacon can provide indoor navigation
② Advantages of iBeacon over NFC
The user has tap their smartphone against NFC device to initiate connection.
An NFC requires tags, readers and reader control, and application software unlike beacons that just needs a control platform.
NFC has a short transmission range (up to 10 cm). But iBeacon can transmit up to 300m.
③ Advantages of iBeacon over RFID
Unlike iBeacon, the information passed by RFID cannot be personalized
RFID needs expensive hardware like readers and tag
iBeacon track movement and activity across a space but RFID tags only check if tap occurred
④ iBeacon and Wi-Fi are rather a power couple than rivals
They work the best when used together and here are a few use-cases:
Get customer data by making them sign up for your free Wi-Fi hotspot. You can use this data to send them personalized notifications
Attract customers by giving free Wi-Fi, then tell them more about your business through iBeacon
Help customers to navigate to the major areas of your business premises by using iBeacon
|QR code||RFID||BLE beacons||WiFi||NFC|
|Maximum coverage range||1.5-2.5 feet||3-4 feet||Up to 330 feet||Up to 150 feet||Very short ranges(20 cm)|
|Access/Readers||Very few smartphones have inbuilt QR code apps.||Needs special readers.||All smartphones with Bluetooth4.0+(Bluetooth Smart)||Most smartphones are equipped||Android devices only. Not available on iOS|
|Usage||Scanning for information||Inventory tracking, Item identification||Proximity notifications, Mobile payments, Asset tracking, indoor navigation and more||Multiple||Payments|
|Engagement||One-to-one||One-to-one||One-to-one or one-to-many||One-to-many||One-to-one|
|Information||Information is constant. Cannot be personalized.||Information is constant and embedded in the tag.||Information is dynamic and can be personalized based on location, frequency, time of day.||Information is dynamic and can be personalized based on location, frequency, time of day etc.||Information is constant and embedded in the tag.|
Among many other use cases, these are few of them
① Restaurants and bars:
Send welcome greetings to a customer who enters the premises. Use data amassed from the app to personalize the message.
Enable them to place an order using their smartphone.
Recognize loyal customers and provide them a better experience like prioritizing their order, offering discounts, giving them a free welcome drink etc.
Help them pay bills through their phone using beacon payment methods.
Automate the check-in process.
Send guests their room number and navigate them to rooms.
Show them the menu card when they are walk past the dining hall.
Enable guests to lock and unlock their rooms using their smartphones.
③ Retail stores
Understand the user’s need using their browsing history and shopping patterns and send them relevant offers.
Delight customers with reward points every time they shop.
If you are a retail store that doesn’t have an app, you can integrate your beacons with a different app e.g. The app of the shopping mall where your store is located.
④ Airports and Railway Stations
Send a welcome message to travelers when they arrive.
Provide information about the flight or train status.
Notify the travelers of the facilities as they walk through the airport or railway station.
Help them navigate the airport/railway station.
Minew offers 5 hardware options:
① Stationary Beacons
② Asset Tags
③ People Tags
④ Sensor Tags
⑤ USB Beacons
All the five support both Eddystone and iBeacon protocol.
Yes. You can run your proximity campaigns using an iOS app. There are two ways of doing this:
① Integrating with your own app
The core objective of integrating beacons with apps is personalization. Beacons use the user info fetched during the sign-up process to send personalized messages. You can also analyze the customers need by observing the way they use their app. For example, if you have an online store, you can analyze customer’s shopping patterns and send relevant offers based on them.
② Collaborating with a third party app
90% of smartphone users have at least one subscription to a rewards program app! When you don’t have an app, you can take your campaigns forward by collaborating with other third party apps. For Example, the Nearbee app that Beaconstac has designed exclusively for businesses that doesn’t have an iOS app.