Locate iOS devices indoors using iBeacons

Use iBeacons to continuously track iPhones, iPads

Assume you need to  track the whereabouts of iOS devices as users move throughout a venue. And your need to find their location continuously and with high accuracy. You also plan to deploy iBeacons to enable proximity-based applications.  Add Accuware Wearabouts for iOS, and now you have all the necessary ingredients for non-stop tracking and proximity.  And you can try it for free.iPhone

Accuware Wearabouts for iOS uses iBeacons’ signals, not to trigger proximity events, but to deliver actual location coordinates, so you can follow the whereabouts of those iOS devices continuously as they move around the venue.

Here is our CEO explaining what makes Wearabouts for iOS unique:

Sample applications of Wearabouts

  • Tracking the location of an iPhone or an iPad user with room-level accuracy. Staff members in a dynamic business environment at a multi-story office building can be rapidly located by tracking the iOS devices they carry. Apple iPadFor instance, locating medical doctors and nurses by their iPhones or iPads helps streamline operations at a healthcare facility.
  • Enabling family, friends or team members to find each other in an indoor venue (“buddy finder”). Anyone who has ever been on a cruise ship knows that you spend half your time looking for other members of your party. Cruise ship operators can offer a “buddy finder” service showing the location of all the members of your party.  Buddy Finder would be ideal at concerts, festivals, trade shows and amusement parks.
  • Analyzing users’ behavior in an indoor venue. By analyzing tracking data, organizers of a marketing event can get insights on visitors’ behavior and learn where people cluster, their preferred paths through the exhibits, where they dwell, and the duration of their visits.iPhone user

Museum curators learn what routes are the most popular, which sections are the most visited and which spaces skipped.  How much time do visitors spend, and where do they dwell.  In other words, quantifying visitors’ journeys delivers insights and informs of the best organization of these spaces to maximize engagement.

The operations team at healthcare organizations can learn what doctor or nurse has been at each room and when,  which can be useful to help diagnose the spread of an infection.

  • Preventing loaned equipment from leaving the premises. A museum makes available iPads for visitors to check out. iPhone userThey are loaded with apps that provide curated routes, enable exploration and discovery of items of interest nearby, as well as deliver contextual information as users approach exhibits.  With tracking enabled, no tablet can disappear out the door without a trace.
  • Automatically keeping track of equipment location. iOS devices used by staff members to control or verify inventory is occasionally misplaced in large facilities, such as warehouses or large stores.

Locating devices when needed permits constraining user activities within a virtual boundary (geofence), as often required in gaming.

Similar applications are possible for gamification on iPhones and iPads.

Can privacy be compromised?

Never.  Users’ privacy is never compromised in any way.  Users must opt in to be tracked, and the location data collected is related to a virtual device ID, which renders it totally anonymous.

How it works

Accuware Wearabouts is a system whose components are: Wearabouts app installed on iOSmultiple iBeacons deployed through a venue, the Wearabouts app running on an iPhone or iPad, and a cloud-based server.

As the device being tracked moves around the venue, the Wearabouts app, running in the background, is activated by iBeacons’ signals. The app collects and uploads iBeacons’ data to the Wearabouts server, which uses it to determine the device’s location.

The server provides an online dashboard and an API for integration. The dashboard enables registering iOS devices and visualizing their position.  Other applications can query the API to obtain a device’s location.  Location coordinates include latitude, longitude and level (1st floor, 2nd floor, basement).

The venue must be fingerprinted (or trained) to enable indoor location. Fingerprinting consists in collecting ambient iBeacons’ signals data by walking along specific routes throughout the venue while running the Accuware Indoors app for iOS.  Data about an iBeacon includes its Proximity UUID, Major ID, Minor ID and signal strength. Collected data is uploaded to the server at the end of each route, becoming a database that characterizes the signals in different areas of the venue.Enable tracking by Wearabouts app

Once fingerprinting is done, the Wearabouts app must be installed on every device to be tracked.  Any device running iOS 8 (or above) is supported. The Device ID generated by the app must be registered with the server to enable locating and tracking it.

The app user must explicitly enable tracking by tapping the “Start Tracking” button on the Wearabouts app’s interface.  The user can disable it by tapping the “Stop Tracking” button.

Note that the Wearabouts app runs in the background: it does not need to be actively running on the screen for tracking to occur. Instead, the app is automatically activated by the ambient iBeacons signals as the user moves through the venue.

Getting started

Want to take Wearabouts for a spin?  Just a few steps will get you there:

  1. Contact Accuware to request a testing account.
  2. Deploy iBeacons through the venue following the recommended guidelines
  3. Perform fingerprinting of the ambient iBeacon signals in the venue
    1. Download and install the Accuware Indoors app for fingerprinting
    2. Fingerprint the venue. Use the Quick Start Guide for step-by-step guidance.
  4. Download and install the Accuware Wearabouts app on every device to be located.
  5. Register each Device ID with the server via the online dashboard.

You are ready to test.

Try it now

Contact Accuware and request your test account.

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