Technology iOS: iBeacons and Bluetooth LE

One of the most exciting technologies available in iOS 7 is iBeacon. It can provide some very interesting features like mobile developers and ordinary users. Let’s take a closer look, what she is like and how it works.

What is iBeacon?

In fact, iBeacon – a small, low-power radiomayachok capable of creating a zone around a certain radius, discover and interact with other similar beacons, located nearby. Any iOS-enabled gadget with Bluetooth LE can act as iBeacon, and mobile applications – receive notifications when the device enters or leaves the range of the beacon, and control the distance to it while driving by.

It sounds a little unclear, so I propose a very simple example. With this technology, a shop on the basis of previous purchases can inform people about special offers and discounts, as soon as he enters the zone deysvtiya-store Beacons. In addition, developers can create a lot of interesting and useful applications that support iBeacon:

  • The application for the internal navigation of the museum or gallery, which knows where you are, and provides information about the exhibits in the halls is not yet visited.
  • The application for travelers, which makes it easier to navigate the subway or buildings where GPS-navigation simply does not work.
  • The application for the participants, who knows what sections you have visited and automatically loads the associated material after their publication.
  • One possible example of the iBeacon be Automatic tuning Apple TV with iOS-device, which appeared in a recent firmware upgrade for the set-top boxes of the second and third generation.

Most interesting is that iOS detects beacons iBeacon in the background. Therefore, applications that support this technology need not be neglected. They can log in and be notified when the product is covered by (or goes beyond it) of certain types of beacons, and respond appropriately to changes in the list iBeacon-s or the distance to them.

Equipment Needed

At the core lies iBeacon Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE or abbreviated BLE), the development of which was launched by Nokia in the early 2000s as an alternative to the existing standard Bluetooth. In 2006, Nokia was even advertise their development, however, then it was called «WiBree».

Both wireless technologies operating in the same frequency range of 2.4 GHz, but BLE is not compatible with the “classical» Bluetooth. The main difference between the two is that the BLE uses significantly less energy is much easier and cheaper to implement, but it works for smaller distances. However, since 2010 they have been included in the specification of Bluetooth 4.0, and in mid-2011, Apple entered the Board of Directors of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which also included Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Toshiba and Lenovo.

Cupertino-based company first added support for Bluetooth 4.0 in MacBook Air and Mac mini in the summer of the same year, and after a while – in the iPhone 4S. All of the following generations and models of apple smartphones, tablets and Macs (+ iPod touch 5G) are compatible with Bluetooth 4.0.

But the products Apple – it’s not the only devices that can act as radio beacons. Develop their own “iron” with the protocol iBeacon, are already actively engaged in third-party hardware manufacturers like StickNFind, PayPal and Estimote. This is how, for example, looks iBeacon from Estimote:

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