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5 years as Ruby developer in Hamburg Currently studying HCI in northern Sweden
During my studies I worked with beacons and I thought this could sharing with you.
Let’s imagine that we’re at a much larger, multi-track conference. I can think of a couple of questions people would ask themselves during the conference days. You might want to know which talk is next in the room that you’re just sitting in. You might need to find another room in which an interesting talk takes place. It could also happen that the organizer needs to inform everybody that the schedule changed. Or you want to make your talk interactive and include a voting with the people currently listening
Most of these scenarios are, of course, solvable today, (conference website). But it takes several clicks to get there. And then you have a static location map, but you don’t know where you are, which makes the map useless. With the help of Beacons it’s possible to find the information that is useful at the place they’re at and that very moment. could help to support people in those scenarios
So, what are beacons and how do they work?
So, what are beacons?
Simply put, beacons are little battery-powered devices that constantly send out a signal.
Constantly sending out a signal sounds similar to a lighthouse, which is just another word for beacon. Just like a lighthouse, you don’t see them until you are within their range. And if you don’t need the information/interaction they provide you can just pass it. But if you’re interested they can guide you and/or provide you with important, local information.
Location based services? Drains battery if you have it switched on all the time Does not work indoors Not precise enough
Alright, but what about QR-codes. They offer the possibility of not having to type a URL into the browser you have to be really close, hassle with positioning camera, and also nobdoy likes QR-codes
BLE has approximately half the range of ‘classic’ Bluetooth and it has a lower battery consumption. With BLE technology the connection is established faster but the throughput is lower. As a result BLE is the best solution for triggering notifications in an app but not for sending actual data to your phone. (http://www.nodesagency.com/the-beacon-dictionary/)
Two major players (there are more) Eddystone was released about 3 weeks ago. iBeacon standard is targeting iOS devices whereas Eddystone is supposed to work with all operating systems For my master thesis I was working with the so-called physical web which was the same but only sending the URL Beacon Payload simplified!
What happens with iBeacon standard? The beacons sends out an id which wakes up an app that the user has installed on his/her iphone (as soon as one enters the area). If you don’t have the app installed there might be a silent notification that this app can be downloaded.
From now on I will focus on the Eddystone URL scenario. Works without an app, especially useful when moving around and want to interact with sth. maybe once and not on a regular basis.
You have a beacon, with an app you save a URL on it. And position it at a bus stop that does not have a digital information display.
As soon as you’re close to the bus stop and switch on your screen you’ll see a silent notification. On Android it looks like this. At the moment you need to have an app installed that scans for beacons but this is supposed to be built into the browser Here you see that information about when the next bus is leaving is available. You tap on it.
And it opens the physical web app that shows you all the URLs in the close-by area. You click on it again. In the future it’s supposed to open a browser directly
And then you end up on a normal web page that you built with your normal web knowledge. This is a very simple Sinatra app that just calls a public API that delivers the information necessary. Makes use of context! current time + parameter that was saved on the beacon with the name of the bus stop as part of the URL
For example: Retail: offer discounts Museums: make the experience more interactive, game-like situation with indoor navigation, provide extra information Silent airports are becoming popular, you can subscribe to your flight and get push notifications if flight status changes Restaurants: see the menu when you enter a restaurant, order on your phone and get a notification when it’s ready (instead of a buzzer) Download a map of a hiking trail Or register for bike or car to go rental on the go
My thesis project: Three prototypes, two self-built, one video with a vending machine at which the user could choose and pay a snack via smartphone compared with printed timetable, bus-app, airport information displays, and more
only valid for physical web scenario! don’t know about app notifications.
Current status in America. Numbers?
A lot of things going on at the moment. Eddystone release, Chrome developers have made Eddystone beacons available as a widget on iOS (Chrome Today widget)
- Push notifications via Web - Service Worker - Web Bluetooth
I realized that 15 minutes are not much. So if you want to know more, ask me, I’ll be around.
I’ll be carrying a beacon with me with a link to a document if so. wants to give feedback. You can also find the slides!
Moving the Web into the Physical World with Beacons
Moving the Web into the