iBeacon scanner tracker device from Alertjack.com

Beacons, iBeacons have proven their usefulness over the past few years. Overall millions of beacons have been sold by a great variety a vendors since their appearance and general availability.

Beacons are power an cost-efficient portable hardware solutions to tracking and finding assets. Most of them rely on the most popular nRF51822 chip made by Nordic Semiconductor. These chips require only a small number of other components in the circuit and are very power efficient, lasting months or even years on a single coin battery.

Also, innovation hasn’t stopped. Motion triggered and button operated ultra-thin, small and light beacons are becoming widely available at no extra cost to their earlier and less advanced versions.

Overall the real usefulness of beacons is improving with fast pace. A motion triggered beacon will only advertise, in other words detectable, when its accelerometer detects motion. A button operated beacon will do the same only when a button is pressed.

So we arrive at a point where beacons are deemed great little gadgets except maybe for one thing. Their detection.

The primary and mostly the only feature of a beacon is to be detectable by a smarter device, primarily an Android phone or an iPhone. At that point the smarter device will add other circumstantial information, mostly GPS location, time, signal strength plus whatever information the beacon is able to provide, like acceleration to the data. The smarter device will either act on the information on its own (eg. the collar beacon on your dog is no longer visible, detectable by your phone) or forward the data to the server or cloud, whatever you want to call it and the action will be determined there (your neighbor’s phone picked up the beacon on your dog so you get notified where to find your dog).

Beacons are useful, their features are growing, their usefulness is growing and now the limiting factor to their usefulness is not the features they provide but our ability to detect their signal. So far their signals are primarily detected by smartphones, mostly their owner’s own phones. That’s a pretty strong limitation because once the beacon is no longer detectable by the owner’s own phone its visibility is lost. No more location information, no more tracking. Smart app designers thought to overcome this problem by the power of the community. If my beacon is lost to me but is visible to someone else I can still get notified. Great! Or well, not that great. There are still very strong limitations in that model as well. iPhones are limited to detecting only beacons by certain vendors, typically one vendor one app. So if my beacon is from a not so popular vendor I have little chance of taking advantage of the community. And since iOS is limited that way it’s of little use to make the Android app more flexible.

Wouldn’t it be great if detection would be more transparent over all vendors’ devices or if you could have a detection device that’s still cost efficient, small, easy-to-use. In fact it’s very much possible to make a device that’s more useful, more flexible and much better at detecting beacons than smartphones. The same chip that makes up beacons is also capable of detecting them. It’s very fast at scanning for beacon advertisements and can be just as or even more sensitive. Overall a smart hardware device that’s made up of the same chip as a beacon plus some extra to communicate the detected information can be a lot more efficient at detecting beacons than a smartphone.

It can be customized to scan for beacons from a specific vendor or vendors or to scan for all. iBeacon vendors can improve their chances at the market by selling iBeacon scanners to their customers by explaining that it improves detection coverage if they place such devices at their homes, cars, workplaces. To explain, it is much better information to say that the detection device at work can see that your keychain attached beacon is there than to say that your phone saw it at your workplace last. The former is definitive information while the latter isn’t.

As an iBeacon user you can take advantage of the device without customization. Whatever type of beacon you own you can customize our scanner to detect your beacons and have the information available in the corresponding app. You don’t need to buy new beacons or you can buy them from any vendor, the result is approximately the same. Improved usefulness.

To explain a bit more about how it works. It detects any types of beacons but can be customized to only detect specific vendor or vendors. You can pair your own beacons from any vendor with the service. Once detected the information is sent via Wi-Fi or Cellular network to the cloud. The data is readily available in the corresponding mobile apps for both iPhone and Android. Any kind of trigger with any kind of notification action is possible. Beacons with button can trigger an emergency response just like motion triggered beacons besides the generic location information. The community effect still applies with proper security in place to prevent unauthorized data leaks.

The device is equipped with WiFi and optionally with GPS based location module to be able to add location information to detected beacon information.

An API is also available for vendors to integrate the data back to their own apps.

Please contact info@alertjack.com for more information and availability.

IoT everywhere