iBeacon Recommendations


#1

In another thread, I noted that I had been looking for a ‘reasonable’ iBeacon. The ones I’d seen advertised on Amazon (UK) are either relatively expensive for something I’d like to just try out using, or priced at a level where I would purchase one, but the comments and ratings lead me to the conclusion it wouldn’t be a good experience.

Does anyone have any first hand experience and recommendations for makes/models; positive or negative are useful, but in particular, ones that might be both reliable and reasonably priced for someone wanting to experiment with using them (with Launch Center Pro on iOS) would be perfect :wink: ?

In terms of range, I personally wouldn’t require anything more than 5 metres. I have no issues with it using any type of power source (AC/battery/USB). I’ve no particular need for it to be weather-proof, a particular size, a particular shape, or a particular colour. But any pertinent experiences around any aspects like these may be useful.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations people can share.


#2

Didn’t @RosemaryOrchard mention she uses some? (In her office and at home, not on the ground floor?)

Maybe she can tell us more about those?


#3

I use Estimote iBeacons. I got 3 for ~$50 from Amazon on a trip to the US last year. They have a range of approximately 50 metres.


#4

another option maybe?


#5

Have you had particularly good experiences with this one then?


#6

Not especially, it was one I came across some time ago when we were looking at this type of beacon for a work related project. I have not tried them personally.


#7

Okay. As per my original post I’m actually interested in first hand experiences. I’ve found lots of options for iBeacon, but there’s a massive variation in cost and quality and I’m trying to find a sweet spot that’s hopefully available in the UK.


#8

Just an update on my search for a reasonable iBeacon (available in the UK). I eventually ended up getting a small USB dongle from Amazon.


USB iBeacon Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0

Expand for an image



The dongle seems to work fine though it isn’t particularly configurable. It uses an iOS app to specify the UUID, major version, minor version, power and refresh.

The reviews noted some set-up and support issues, but I followed the instructions and had it set-up and working with LCP within about 7 or 8 minutes; and that included resolving a problem logging into it with a pass code.

The moral of that particular story is don’t grab a USB battery pack that turns off after 30 seconds if there isn’t a significant power draw and then try the login about 25 seconds after power up :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

It would be nice if I could reduce the power further as the range on it even at it’s lowest level through my home with the various walls, cables and obstacles is still a little too good, but if it becomes a significant issue, a USB extension cable, some ‘tack’, and some aluminum foil will probably let me control the locus of detection sufficiently.

Overall I’m satisfied with it for my current needs.


#9

If it’s just for experimenting one can apparently use another iOS device as iBeacon:

https://developer.apple.com/documentation/corelocation/turning_an_ios_device_into_an_ibeacon

However, it has to always run an App in the foreground, so this is no permanent solution.


#10

Thanks for this. I’ve been looking at this particular one but wasn’t sure whether it’d be a good solution :grinning:

Couple if questions if you don’t mind…

  1. can you plug it in to “any” USB port (eg PS3, router, etc) or does it have to be a laptop/desktop?
  2. if to a laptop/desktop, will it enable access to the computer’s contents?
  3. I’d like to use the iBeacon to trigger LCP to send me a notification when the last person (out of 2) leaves the flat, ie is 10 meters away from the iBeacon. Is this possible with this particular model?

Thanks!!!


#11

It is just a USB powered device as far as I know, so as long as there is enough consistent power, then it should be fine.

It shouldn’t have access to a computer’s contents if plugged into it … but I’m not a security analyst and I haven’t taken it apart to investigate what it can potentially do. If you are at all concerned, and if you’ll pardon the phrasing, get yourself a USB condom … either Google that or search for something like PortaPow Data Blocker. That will then ensure only the power connecions are connected to the device over USB. Or just buy a wall plug with a USB socket :wink:

The last point is something different again. First of all range measuring is tricky and see my note about the power above. Second, the devices are the action objects. They are triggered by the presence or non-presence of the beacon. Those devices would have to know about one another.

If each device wrote their location to some file (and remember the user gets an alert only - they have to confirm the action manually) that some web service monitored and then when that file shows the count of devices no longer present as 2, it could then trigger the notification. But that’s prone to a lot of human error in terms of triggering.

Perhaps if you have a particular automation tou would like to build you could post a new topic for it? There’s often more than one way to do things.


#12

I assume this can be plugged into any power strip that has a USB socket spare and “just work” with LCP.


#13

Yes - as long as the power is consistent.

That may seem like stating the obvious, but as I noted in a previous post I had a battery pack at first, and the draw on the supply from the iBeacon seemed to be so minimal that the pack cut the power to the iBeacon after a little while.

As long as the mains strip used doesn’t have a similar power saving ‘feature’ on the USB socket, then it should be fine.

Within LCP, you set-up the iBeacon as a location identifier. It’s a manual step as you have to type in each of the iBeacon’s properties. The properties for the iBeacon must match those you have in the configuration app (eBeacon). My set-up is shown below.


#14

Thanks. Looks straightforward enough.

One is arriving tomorrow. Then I can see if the improvements I want to NFC curation also apply to iBeacons.