What is iBeacon? All you need to know.
Apple introduced iBeacon in 2013 and it forever changed how people use their mobile devices to interact with physical space.
- What is iBeacon?
- How does iBeacon work?
- What can I do with iBeacon?
- Common misconceptions about iBeacon
- How can you get started with iBeacon?
What is iBeacon?
iBeacon is a Bluetooth communication protocol introduced by Apple in 2013. The iBeacon enables smartphones, tablets and other devices to trigger actions when they get in close proximity to a device that transmits iBeacon (commonly those devices are called beacons). Since iBeacon was developed by Apple you may think that it only works with Apple devices but this is not true - iBeacon works on Android devices as well.
How does iBeacon work?
iBeacon uses Bluetooth low energy technology to transmit a unique ID that can be recognized by a mobile app or operating system on a smartphone. This unique ID is used to determine the smartphone's physical location and thus track customers position in a shop or trigger a location-based action on the device - for example deliver push notification with an offer. iBeacon is delivered through a device called beacon that consists of three components: a CPU, radio and batteries. Beacons come in all shapes and colors. Some beacons include accelerometers, temperature sensors or other unique add-ons.
What can I do with iBeacon?
iBeacon has many real world applications like indoor positioning, special offers, gamifications that work for marketers around the world (check out iBeacon use cases) but technically speaking they can only do one thing - transmit a string of digits and letters.
As the “Beacon” name suggests, they transmit packets of data in regular intervals, and this data is then picked up by devices like smartphones. iBeacon packet consists of:
- iBeacon prefix (9 bytes)
- Proximity UUID (16 bytes)
- Major (2 bytes)
- Minor (2 bytes)
- TX Power (1 byte) - it is used to calculate distance from the iBeacon. It represents RSSI value (Received Signal Strength Indication) measured at 1 meter from the iBeacon.
Common misconceptions about iBeacon
- iBeacon is not the same as beacon. iBeacon is just a Bluetooth protocol whereas beacon is a common name for a device that transmits iBeacon or Eddystone protocols.
- iBeacon does not collect any data - it is a protocol received by mobile apps that can with a user consent track certain information.
- iBeacon does not push notifications, but a mobile app which receives it can with a user consent send push notification.
- iBeacon enables only one-way transmission - it can't technically receive anything nor track anything. Only the installed app (not the iBeacon transmitter) can analyze the data and for example track users position with their consent as they walk around the shop.
- iBeacon transmitting devices (beacons) come in a many shapes and sizes, from small coin like devices, USB sticks, to larger boxes even with GPS and LTE on board.
How can you get started with iBeacon?
Once you buy a beacon starter pack contact us and we will help you get started.