1 – Type of BLE devices detectable

The BLE nodes at present can detect only Bluetooth Low Energy devices (BLE devices) compatible with the iBeacon standard. iBeacon is Apple’s implementation of Bluetooth 4.0 low-energy (BLE) wireless technology to create a different way of providing location-based information and services to iPhones and other iOS devices. iBeacon arrived in iOS7, which means it works with iPhone 4s or later, iPad (third generation and onwards) iPad mini and iPod touch (fifth generation or later). It’s worth noting the same BLE technology is also compatible with Android 4.3. and above. iBeacons from different vendors have different characteristics and specifications, but they all follow the same protocol. You can get a general overview with further information here.

Accuware - BLE Beacon - Dot - 2    Accuware - BLE Beacon - USB - 1   accuware-ble-beacon-wristband-5

2 – How do BLE devices work?

The BLE devices themselves are small, cheap Bluetooth transmitters (with no reception capabilities) that transmit a universally unique identifier (UUID) to a range that can reach up to a few tens of meters (30-50 meters). They transmit with very low power, so they can be operated with a battery.

3 – Where can I buy the BLE devices?

The BLE devices, compatible with the iBeacon standard, can be purchased from us. We have deeply tested and selected several models of iBeacons to address different needs. You can find (and purchase) them inside this page.

Anyway there are several BLE devices manufacturers and you can easily find them searching on the Internet. This article lists some BLE devices manufacturers with the characteristics of each device. If you want to purchase the BLE devices on your own please make sure that you are purchasing BLE devices compatible with the iBeacon standard.

4 – Configuration of the BLE devices

The BLE devices received from Accuware (or purchased directly from your preferred vendor) MUST be configured before being used. The configuration of the BLE devices can be done by connecting to the BLE devices using the App provided by each BLE devices manufacturer. These are the links to the Apps of the manufacturers we work with:

These are the parameters that need to be set for each one of the BLE devices configured:

  • Transmission power: set to the maximum (usually 3 or 4 dBm). If you are concerned about battery powered iBeacons, keep in mind that the Transmission power has a really small impact on the battery life.
  • Advertisement rate: at least 1 advertisement every 4-5 seconds. The advertisement rate has a major impact on the battery life.
  • UUID, Major, Minor:
    • UUID: leave it  as-is.
    • Major and Minor: the combination of Major and Minor MUST differs for each one of the iBeacons in the environment! 
  • Standard: if it can be set, then it needs to be set like this:
    • iBeacon – ON.
    • AltBeacon, Eddystone UID and Eddystone URL standards – OFF.

Protect your BLE devices from unwanted changes of the parameters:

  • Radius Network – to set a password follow the instructions inside this support page.
  • April Brother – as long as they are active, these BLE devices can be configured using the Aprilbrother Apps linked above. To protect them it is possible to set a password of 6 characters once the smartphone used for the configuration is connected to the BLE beacon of interest.

5 – Batch configuration of the BLE devices

The BLE devices can be configured in batch:

  • RADIUS NETWORK beacons – it can be done using the platform called RADIUS NETWORK DIRECTOR.
  • APRIL BROTHER beacons – it can be done during the purchase process of the BLE devices. The BLE beacons purchased will be pre-configured at the factory and sent to you using the specific parameters requested during the purchase process (minor, major, tx power, adv interval etc..).

6 – Battery level of the BLE devices

Unfortunately the battery level info is not part of an iBeacon advertisement/standard. This means that our BLE nodes can’t read it. So, the only option at present to read the battery levels is to retrieve this information from the API provided by:

7 – Interference of BLE devices with 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi networks

There could be some interference since the two technologies, Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, share the same 2.4 GHz frequency band, however the interference is strongly reduced if the Wi-Fi networks in the environment  are deployed on 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channels 1, 6 and 11 because, as you can see in the image below, the Advertisement Channels used by the BLE devices fall in between the three Wi-Fi channels just mentioned. The BLE standard has been designed this way on purpose to reduce the interference.

Wi-Fi-BT-interference

8 – Maximum number of BLE devices detected simultaneously

By detectable simultaneously, we mean these BLE devices are all active at the same time and you want to query all their locations in real time every 5 seconds. Accuware Bluetooth Beacon Tracker can be used to track up to several hundred devices at the same time without problems. If you need to track more devices, we can provide more computing capacity and in that case you should be able to track tens or hundreds thousands of devices at the same time. Each node can detect up to 100 different BLE devices in every 5 seconds time slot. This number might not seem much, but it should be kept into account that the reception radius of a node is 30 meters at most (in open space) and, even if the BLE devices are all “active” at the same time, they rarely transmit constantly, but rather they transmit in short sporadic bursts. Over a period of 1 hour, a single node can report up to 72’000 different BLE devices (720 reports * 100 unique different BLE devices/report). Anyway since BLE devices do not transmit simultaneously at the same time, the numbers discussed above are even larger!