Home Blog Extensive Guide to iBeacon, Eddystone, Bluetooth® Beacon, BLE Beacon, and Minew Beacon

Extensive Guide to iBeacon, Eddystone, Bluetooth® Beacon, BLE Beacon, and Minew Beacon

Minew Jul 05, 2024

In the world of the Internet of Things (IoT), beacons have emerged as pivotal tools for enhancing connectivity and interaction between the physical and digital worlds. This blog aims to demystify various types of IoT beacons supporting Bluetooth® protocols: iBeacon, Eddystone, Bluetooth® Beacon, BLE Beacon, and Minew Beacon by highlighting their differentiating features and unique benefits in real cases of usage.

Bluetooth Technology

What Are Bluetooth® Beacons

Many researchers and practitioners define Bluetooth® beacons differently, by focusing selectively on one or two of its main features or attributes. However, Bluetooth® beacons stand for general, broad, and umbrella terminology for beacon devices equipped with Bluetooth® protocols and technologies. But what are Bluetooth® beacons exactly? In the IoT hardware domain, Bluetooth® beacons belong to the category of Bluetooth® Low Energy (LE) devices. They come in a small, portable, and wireless design, but serve as mighty tools. Bluetooth® beacons are transmitters, broadcasting advertising packets (containing identifiers) to nearby electronic devices (Minew, 2024). The advertising nature of Bluetooth® beacons makes them particularly useful and applicable to indoor location tracking and positioning.

When Bluetooth® beacons are depicted as an IoT technique, it refers to a method for indoor location positioning via Bluetooth® beacons. More specifically, Bluetooth® beacons are deployed within indoor settings to determine the relative locations of electronic devices (Beacon Placement for Indoor Localization Using Bluetooth®, 2008). When the complexity of the indoor environment makes it challenging for traditional GPS and GNSS methods, Bluetooth® beacons serve as an alternative and complementary solution. The easy installation, deployment, and distribution of low-cost Bluetooth® beacons (also at low-energy consumption) opens another new door and extra opportunities for high-precision indoor location tracking (Location Fingerprinting With Bluetooth® Low Energy Beacons, 2015).

Brief History of Bluetooth® Beacon Technology

Bluetooth® beacons for indoor location tracking and positioning aren’t a new concept. It was not widely adopted previously due to technical and economic constraints, such as energy consumption, infrastructure cost, and a lengthy process of device discovery (Muòoz-Organero et al., 2012). However, such limitations were perfected and solved and the entire situation is reversed with the advent of Bluetooth® 4.0 (Kriz et al., 2016). In 2010, Bluetooth® 4.0, including BLE and Smart Bluetooth®, was released and quickly embedded in IoT hardware solutions, such as beacons (Bluetooth® Low Energy Beacon, 2024). Bluetooth® Low-energy beacons, also known as BLE beacons open more applications of beacon in location tracking for its unparalleled advantages such as low energy consumption, extended battery life, and broader broadcasting range. For more feature comparisons, please refer to the table below.

Feature Bluetooth® Beacons BLE Beacons
Technology Bluetooth® classic Bluetooth® Low-energy
Degree of Power Consumption High Low
Battery Life Short (hours to days) Long (days to months and years)
Range Typically 10 meters Up to 70 meters
Data Transmission High data rates Low data rates
Configuration Complex Easy deployment

Feature Comparison: Bluetooth® beacons vs. BLE beacons

Beacon Types

In this section, we will zoom into different types of beacons and discuss them in detail by comparing their pros and cons.

iBeacon

At the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple and the IOS 7.0 system introduced a new way to detect and monitor the location of electronic devices, later known as Apple’s iBeacon standard. iBeacons are location monitoring devices and any IOS device supporting Bluetooth® Low Energy (LE) can be turned into an iBeacon (Dave, 2013). It is often regarded as the first mainstream Bluetooth® beacon standard offering customers great flexibility and rich integration with the IOS ecosystem. Other common advantages perceived by developers and users are privacy controls and extreme accuracy when it comes to indoor proximity and warehouse tracking.

Eddystone

In contrast to Apple’s iBeacon standard, another popular beacon standard is Google’s Eddystone standard. It was introduced in 2015, as a head-to-head direct competitor to Apple’s iBeacon standard. Unlike Apple’s iBeacon standard, Google Eddystone is a more open beacon format, compatible with both Android and iOS. It is featured with multiple frame types for different use cases, such as Eddystone-UID, Eddystone-URL, Eddystone-TLM, and Eddystone-EID (Eddystone (Google), 2023). In addition to Eddystone, Google also launched the Google beacon platform, including a proximity beacon API designated for seamless integration with individual Eddystone beacons (Beacons | Google Developers, n.d.).

Feature iBeacon Eddystone
Developer Apple Inc. Google LLC
Year of Introduction 2013 2015
Signal Format Unique Identifier (Major, Minor, UUID) Eddystone – UID, URL, TLM, EID
Configuration Requirements Apple hardware & software Cross platforms
Transmission Type Single (UUID based) Multiple
Compatibility Best with IOS With both IOS and Android
Security Basic (Proximity-triggering) Advanced (ephemeral IDs, encrypted data)

Feature Comparison: Apple iBeacons vs. Google Eddystone

Bluetooth® Beacon and BLE Beacon

As mentioned previously, Bluetooth® and BLE beacons are hardware transmitters, broadcasting their signals and unique identifiers to nearby BLE or Bluetooth® connected electronic devices via Bluetooth® protocols (Bluetooth® Low Energy Beacon, 2024). These peripheral devices then use the beacon’s identifier to trigger specific actions, such as displaying notifications, pushing content, or providing location-based services.

 

The efficiency of BLE technology is a key aspect of how beacons work. BLE is designed to consume minimal power while maintaining effective communication, allowing beacons to operate for months or even years on a single battery. This low-energy consumption, combined with the ability to provide precise location data and trigger contextual actions, makes Bluetooth® beacons an ideal solution for a wide range of applications, from retail and marketing to navigation and asset tracking.

Minew Beacon

Minew beacon stands for a whole selection and full range of IoT beacon devices supporting various Bluetooth® and BLE protocols (e.g., Bluetooth® LE, Bluetooth® 5.0, Bluetooth® 5.1, and etc.). Minew’s beacon distinguishes itself with high-precision data transmission, reliable communication protocols, and strong versatility for almost every application scenario. They’re designed to be effortlessly integrated into a variety of environments, thanks to their compact size, long battery life, and robust performance. Whether you’re a business looking to enhance customer interactions or a developer aiming to create innovative applications, Minew beacons provide the perfect foundation. They also come with a comprehensive SDK and support, making it easy to customize and deploy them according to your specific needs.

 

In short summary, Minew beacons extend beyond just beacon hardware or beacon devices. It comes with the latest and most advanced connectivity technologies (e.g., Bluetooth® and LoRaWAN) and enjoys a high-degree of customization for every unique commercial and non-commercial setting.

BLE enabled device through app

Application of Minew Beacon

Indoor Route Navigation & Proximity Marketing

Accurate indoor location tracking and proximity navigation is crucial to proximity marketing. By placing and distributing location beacons within the property, retailers, marketing specialists, and property managers could have a visual presentation and data-based insights into visitor volume. By deploying IoT beacons and employing more advanced AI algorithms and data mining techniques, businesses can ensure only personalized information will be delivered to customers according to their preferences and purchase history. On the one side, it ensures more efficiency in proximity marketing effort allocation. On the other, it helps customers to complete a transaction without spending too much time searching. Overall, a more interactive and tailored shopping experience can be anticipated.

Indoor Personnel Positioning

Seamless integration with many other compatible IoT devices is another key feature and benefit of Minew beacons. It helps to achieve accurate and reliable personnel positioning and management, especially given the complex indoor settings. First, the Minew beacon is easy to install and can be deployed in various complex settings. It can be placed on the ground, ceiling or simply glued to the wall. The portable and light-weight design makes it easy to be embedded in a building complex. Moreover, the Minew beacon can coordinate with Minew’s various tags, including asset tags, personnel tags, and so on. Attaching employees or visitors to compatible and connected personnel badges will enable their location to be detected once entering specific zones. In the workplace, organizations can monitor the real-time location and movement of staff within a facility. In healthcare sector, Minew beacons facilitate accurate headcounts and ensure no one will be left.

Warehouse Asset Tracking

Location tracking and activity monitoring is important for personnel safety, inventory handling, asset security, and overall efficiency within the warehouse scenario. By attaching beacons to inventory items or equipment, businesses can easily monitor their location and status within the warehouse. This not only minimizes the risk of loss or theft but also reduces the time spent searching for items. Batch operation replaced traditional manual and labor-intensive methods and thus largely decreased the risk of mental burnout and work-related injuries, catering to higher occupational safety, employee health, and productivity.

Smart IoT-enabled Parking Lot

Minew’s Bluetooth® and BLE beacons contribute to a more intelligent and IoT-enabled parking lot in 3 ways: route navigation, parking space management, and vehicle management. By providing real-time guidance, these beacons help drivers find the quickest routes to available parking spaces, saving time by preventing congestion and extra carbon emissions. For parking space management, beacons offer accurate occupancy detection and reporting, ensuring efficient use of space and enhancing user convenience. Additionally, vehicle management becomes more streamlined as beacons facilitate seamless tracking and monitoring of vehicles. As a result, the overall parking experience and operational efficiency will be largely enhanced.

Smart IoT-enabled Parking Lot

Looking Ahead: The Future of Beacons

Technology’s ability to seamlessly bridge the gap between physical spaces and digital interactions opens up endless possibilities for innovation across various industries. Among all IoT technologies, Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) technology will continue to drive the evolution of beacons, making them more efficient, powerful, and versatile. Meanwhile, the integration of beacons with AI and machine learning will further enhance their capabilities, providing deeper insights and more intelligent automation.

 

Choose the Right Beacons

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