All about beacons and its development in android

What is Beacon in IT? - Beacon is a small piece of hardware comprised of Bluetooth low energy. Beacons are the transmitters, that broadcast their identifier to nearby portable electronic devices via the means of Bluetooth Low Energy. The technology enables smartphones, tablets, and other devices to perform actions when close to a beacon.

Bluetooth beacons use Bluetooth low energy proximity sensing to transmit a universally unique identifier[3] picked up by a compatible app or operating system.

The identifier and several bytes sent with it can be used to determine the device's physical location,[4] track customers, or trigger a location-based action on the device such as a check-in on social media or push notification.

Designs of beacon - Beacons can be of 2 types :

1.) Battery-powered.
2.) USB powered.

1.) Battery powered - Bluetooth beacons operate using the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy standard so battery-powered devices are possible. The battery life of devices varies depending on the manufacturer. The Bluetooth LE protocol is significantly more power-efficient than Bluetooth Classic.

2.) USB Powered - Bluetooth beacons can also come in the form of USB dongles. These small USB beacons can be powered by a standard USB port which makes them ideal for long term permanent installations.

Uses of Beacon :

1.) Advertising
2.) Indoor navigation
3.) Notification and Interaction
4.) Many beacons per room
5.) One beacon per room
6.) Few beacons per building
7.) Healthcare

Beacon protocols :

1.) iBeacon
2.) AltBeacon
3.) UriBeacon
4.) Eddystone

Beacons Parameters and Range :-

Parameters :

1.) UUID
2.) Major
3.) Minor

What is UUID?

UUID stands for Universally Unique Identifier. It contains 32 hexadecimal digits, split into 5 groups, separated by hyphens and should look something like this:

f7826da6-4fa2-4e98-8024-bc5b71e0893e  - default UUID

Each of the 5 groups must contain the following number of characters per section:
First section: 8
Second section: 4
Third section: 4
Fourth section: 4
Fifth section: 12

Characters should be numbers from 0-9, or letters from A to F. A group can be made entirely of just numbers or letters or a combination of both.

The following are examples of valid UUIDs:


The UUID is a standard identifying system that allows a 'unique' number to be generated for a device (or in the case of beacons, manufacturer, application, or owner).

The purpose of the ID is to distinguish iBeacons in your network, from all other beacons in networks outside your control. By default, you will be assigned only one UUID when ordering iBeacons, which is linked to your account.

Technically an organization can use multiple UUIDs if needed, for example, to identify venues in different locations or to identify different business units.

What are Major and Minor values?

Major and Minor values are numbers assigned to your iBeacons, to identify them with greater accuracy than using UUID alone.

Minor and Major are unsigned integer values between 0 and 65535.

The iBeacon standard requires both a Major and Minor value to be assigned.

How to use UUID, Major and Minor values?

Major values are intended to identify and distinguish a group – for example, all beacons in on a certain floor or room in your venue could be assigned a unique major value.

Minor values are intended to identify and distinguish an individual – for example distinguishing individual beacons within a group of beacons assigned a major value.

Example scenario

Say you are a Museum who has bought 1000 iBeacons. All 1000 beacons use the same UUID which tells end-users that these beacons are owned by the museum.

This museum has 5 exhibitions running, so the museum assigns a major value of 1 through 5 to identify beacons assigned to a particular exhibit. So there are now 5 groups of beacons with an assigned major value of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.

Now let’s say there are 200 paintings and sculptures within each exhibition. All the exhibits are assigned an iBeacon to deliver unique information about each piece, so you use the Minor value to distinguish between each iBeacon.

So there are now 5 groups with 200 iBeacons each, and each beacon is assigned a minor value of 1 through 200.

You can now precisely identify every iBeacon in the museum by their assigned exhibition, and down to each painting and sculpture. This is also how you can direct guests towards a precise location, by asking them to search for the specific beacon ID numbers.

Do I have to use Major and Minor values?

Technically you do not have to assign these values at all (although they are all required as part of the Apple's iBeacon standard) – however, they are very useful for identifying, organizing, and tracking beacons down to a finer level. If you want your iBeacons to deliver unique content, then they need to have a unique ID to distinguish them.

There may however be applications, where using only the UUID is a useful feature; so we do not require using these values. This is up to your unique use-case.

You can also assign a Major or a Minor value if this better suits your purpose. Smaller beacon systems, for example, may not need to use multiple groups, or you could group beacons by a particular function where individualization is unnecessary.

Can I change the UUID, Major, and Minor values?

Yes. You can change the UUID, Major, and Minor values in iBeacons using mobile Administration App for iOS or Android.

These and other values can be read and changed only by those who are privileged to do so as every single beacon is protected by a password generated by internal system.

Beacon Ranging and Power

bluetooth beacon common numbers includes interval, tx power, range, and battery life


1. BlueCats

BlueCats is made by the Australian firm Plus Location Systems. The cat-shaped beacons have two AA batteries that are easily replaceable and the mounting plate makes it easy to connect them to the wall.

The SDK and Data analysis also sound very promising and this is definitely one of the players to remember for the coming months.

Price: NA
Shipping: Yes, Starter Pack

2. BlueSense

BlueSense provides complete retail beacons as well as integration kits. The integration kits can be interesting if you want to place the beacons behind paintings for example.

They are still working on the SDK but you can already buy the beacons.

Price; Integration kit £24,99 Retail kit £29.99
Shipping; Yes

3. Estimote

Estimote is the largest and most well-known beacon manufacturer, already more than 10.000 developer kits have been distributed.

Figure : Estimote Beacon kit

Although there are some problems with the estimote beacon, they are growing very fast and the expectations are that they will become the leading beacon manufacturer.

Price: Developer preview kit (3 Beacons) $99
Shipping: Yes

4. Gelo

Gelo is the most solid all-weather beacon available at the moment. They already have some interesting projects with beacons on their website. They already have a working Gelo SDK compatible model but the Apple iBeacon compatible version will arrive this summer.

Price: Standard (2 Beacons$69)
Shipping: Yes

5. Glimworm

Glimworm beacons are nicely designed and can be rebranded and the code is open source. They are already shipping their 3D printed beacons. On the website they say that: ‘We are ordering our first 3000 injection molded glossy cases this month and expect to ship in April’’ They are trying to create some scale by offering packages of up to 400 beacons for $9,900.

Price: 3D printed version $50
Shipping: Yes

6. Gimbal by Qualcomm

Qualcomm is the only big hardware company that has decided to move into beacon manufacturing. The Gimbals range is 50 meters but the battery only has a life time of 2-3 months. Gimbal Manager seems like a solid set of API’s and a web-based tool for managing different functionalities. The only downturn to the Gimbal is the business model because you will have to pay a per-user fee. This can get pretty expensive if you plan to equip a football stadium or museum with beacons.

Price: Standard £3
Shipping: Yes (only for developers)

7. Kontakt

Kontakt is the favorite if the people at Beekn a blog fully dedicated to beacons. The beacons are nicely designed and they can be customized with your own brand and colour. They also have an extensive back-end and CMS.

Price: Standard (5 Beacons set) $135
Shipping: Yes

8. Sensorberg

Sensorberg manufacturers so-called mini beacons that have a range of 30 meters. This makes them suitable for places where many beacons have to be placed in close proximity to each other such as a Supermarket. Sensorberg promises a real out of the box experience and it should only take you 5 minutes to integrate it into your existing app.

Price: Starter Kit (3 Beacons set) £89.99
Shipping: Yes

9. Sonic Notify

Sonic Notify is compatible with more than just iOS7 phones because of its combination with audio technology. This means that 95% of the smartphones are compatible with their beacons.

Price: 1 Beacon $30
Shipping: Yes


It is going to be interesting to see who are going to be the leading hardware manufacturers and what their business model will be.

Another important element to keep in mind is the MFi program this could influence the price of beacons but also the number of manufacturers.


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