Ever wonder how smart beacons are made?
We want to take you on a journey of a beacon’s manufacturing process.
It all starts with the core electronic components. Each beacon is in fact a tiny computer. Inside is a powerful 32-bit ARM® Cortex M0 CPU with 256kB flash memory, an accelerometer, a temperature sensor and what is most important — a 2.4 GHz Bluetooth 4.0 Smart bidirectional radio. It’s called low-energy because it really is. BLE devices can run up to 2+ years with a single coin battery depending on broadcasting power and advertising frequency settings.
After manufacture, optically tested and validated beacons are incorporated into flexible colored silicone enclosures. This type of silicone often used in cookware is a form of synthetic rubber created from bonded silicon and oxygen. Silicon is a very common natural element found in sand and rock — it makes up 28% of the earth’s crust and is lightweight, recyclable and non-toxic to aquatic life and soil organisms. On the bottom of each beacon we affix a reattachable gecko adhesive which can be used to stick the beacon on almost any surface, and even remove and reattach it later.
By the time each beacon leaves the production line, it has been validated and activated. Three brand new individually colored beacons are then packaged into Dev Kit boxes and shipped to developers around the world to serve as inspiration for the next generation of contextual computing mobile apps.
London’s Gatwick Airport now has 2,000 beacons for in-house navigation
Intricate in-house environments including air-ports and department stores is usually a bad dream to find your way around. And while Google is hunting mobile phones with 3D sensors as one prospective fix for places GPS won’t accurately reach, another approach is to kit out an interior with many Bluetooth beacons – giving smart phone users located-locked pings to fix onto to discover exactly where they’re.
The UK’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, has opted for the latter approach to power an indoor navigation system it’s launching as a part of a larger, multi-year transformation program.
It’s finally finished providing its two terminals with close to 2 Thousand battery-powered beacons to make certain that digital map users will get a more exact blue dot as they stroll around. The beacon system will also be utilized to power an augmented reality wayfinding tool – guaranteeing that mobile users can be guided to a particular locations inside the terminals with on-screen arrows. The beacon system is slated as backing up positioning with +/-3m precision.
Gatwick is about to integrate indoor positioning into some of its mobile apps, and says it’s in discussions with airlines to take advantage of it for their own mobile apps and services – giving illustration of them being able to send push notifications to notify individuals if they’re running late, or even make a decision on if they should wait or offload luggage so an airplane can take off punctually.
Merchants and other third parties will also be able to use the system for proximity detection of potential clients and push promoting messages – as a minimum to those who have signed up to receive them.
Gatwick says it will not be gathering up any personal data using the beacons but says “generic information on ‘people densities’ in different beacon zones” will be employed to help to improve airport operations – including queue measurement, streamlining passenger flows and minimizing over-crowding.
The airport has worked with UK start-up Pointr on the system. Along with developing software and managing the system on an ongoing basis, Pointr provides an SDK with support for 3D AR wayfinding make it possible for third parties to tap into the functionality.