Automators 39: Automating iBeacons

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In the show you talk about Estimote Beacons, but I thought you would like a much cheaper alternative. I have used a product called RadBeacon Dot from Radius Networks and it works quite well. They have two versions of this product one that is configurable and one that is not. The non-configurable Dot is cheaper and would probably meet most peoples needs. They have also come out with a new product, which I have not tried, called the RadBeacon Chip which is much smaller. These beacons are similar to the Estimote Beacons in that they are proximity beacons. The Estimote Beacons are @$24/beacon and the RadBeacons are @$9/beacon and much smaller.


I am interested in cheaper beacons, but unfortunately these are very expensive when you include shipping to the EU ($34 for economy, $40 for priority).

(Have not investigated shipping costs for the ones mentioned in the show)


An (old) Apple TV will also work fine as Bluetooth-device to discover if you leave or return back home.

Are iBeacons the same as nfc tags?

No, NFC required your device to be within a very short distance to work, iBeacons are Bluetooth with a much larger range.

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The one advantage of NFC tags is they’re more reliable (well mostly reliable). The other is they don’t need no stinking confirmations. :slight_smile:

I might well stick to NFC tags.

Maybe a European group buy is in order?

Has anyone gotten a smart home device to work with Pushcut, as Rose was trying to do in this episode? I had the same thought when I did a Bluetooth scan. I got the UUID of my Eve Outlet Switch, but I have not gotten it to work with Pushcut yet.

I also bought the Blue Charm beacon on Amazon. I did figure out the somewhat confusing setup, and got it to work. But it’s very flaky. If my phone sits right next to the beacon, I will get a pushcut alert that I have left the beacon and immediately came back to the beacon at least once every 20 minutes. I think that’s a deal killer for me.

No. I did try it with my Apple TV 4.

For ‘home devices’, have you confirmed that they are definitely iBeacons and not just Bluetooth LE devices. iBeacons have to be broadcasting the BLE packet structure defined by Apple. Different services will have different packet structures, and so just being a BLE device will not necessarily make something an iBeacon.

For example, here’s a local scan of BLE devices that I could detect utilising BLE Scanner 4.0 on my iPhone. It’s an app for scanning for BLE devices, but you can helpfully configure it to act as an iBeacon, which I did with my iPad.

This shows quite a few different BLE devices.

But if I use an app on my Mac (Beacon Scan) that specifically scans for iBeacon devices, I get a very different listing that picks up my one test case in the local area.

You might ask if there’s a way to scan for if a BLE device is an iBeacon on i*OS. While you can, it isn’t necessarily easy for developers to do so, and there’s a reason you have to type in that UUID for the iBeacon rather than just scan it and select it.


Thx, i will some other device where services are shown.

Stephen, thanks - this explanation is really handy. A bummer, but really helpfu!

Has anyone used iBeacons or BTLE for pets? Specifically, the opposite of a pet locator, more as a way to deter a pet from going into a specific area? We have the buzzers (just vibrates and makes a beeping sound) that I think would be interesting to connect to something like this.


  • Away from the garbage bin
  • Away from the stairs

This iBeacon was fairly easy to set up and use with Pushcut:

JINOU Bluetooth BLE 5.0 Programmable Beacon/iBeacon/Eddystone with nRF52810, for Android and iOS



I am just curious does anyone else have a “welcome” home shortcut that runs? If so would you mind sharing the details? @RosemaryOrchard would you mind sharing details of yours?

Thanks in advance

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I just bought the same one and it arrived today. It was easy to set up and configure. During the podcast on iBeacons, I seem to recall David and Rosemary recommending some specific settings. Can anyone tell me what the settings were or where to get them? I guess I could zip through the podcast again and write them down.