Beacons are small transmitters that send out simple signals to devices in their vicinity. Since modern beacons are based on the Bluetooth Low Energy standard, their range is a maximum of 30 meters indoors and their energy consumption is low.
Beacons consist of a tiny transmitter unit and a battery. Battery life ranges from a few days to several years, depending on the beacon type and the application. Then the battery must be replaced. The price for a beacon is between three and thirty euros. In order to evaluate the transmitted position data, a corresponding app must be installed on the device that receives the signals. The position can be determined with an accuracy of up to one meter.
Apple has been offering its own profile for BLE since 2013, known as iBeacon. It works with newer Apple devices from iOS7 and current Android devices and has a range of up to 30 meters. Google’s competing product is called Eddystone and was introduced in 2015. It is a cross-platform open source product that works with all devices that support BLE. Unlike iBeacons, Eddystone beacons can send a URL in addition to a serial number and work across platforms.
Today, there are a variety of vendors for beacons. The beacons are available in various shapes and sizes. For example, they come in the form of ISO cards, small tags that can be attached to assets or walls, stickers or wristbands.