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Quick Start

Ready to go with your beacon project? Start here for everything you need to get up and running:

  1. Choose the right beacon for your project
  2. Create a BlueCats account and claim your beacons with the BlueCats Web Manager or BlueCats Reveal mobile app
  3. Choose an advertisement format and configure your beacons with the BC Reveal app
  4. Every beacon project is different. Choose your beacon configuration and tools and start building:

Useful Resources

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Using beacons

Beacons are devices that use the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol to repeatedly send short transmissions, called advertisements, to mobile devices or other Bluetooth scanning device. Advertisements can contain an identifier and/or sensor data and the brevity of these advertisements allows for battery operated use lasting several years.

In their simplest form, beacons can be used to pinpoint your location. At their most complex, beacons can transmit and receive data from sensors and other beacons. Beacons enable (but are not limited to) the following use cases:

  • triggering relevant mobile content for education and shopping experiences
  • initiating data transfer between a mobile device and usb or OEM beacon at point of sale computer to redeem offers
  • logging and reporting temperature data
  • notifying a quick service restaurant of your arrival for order pickup
  • tracking the location of assets in real time

Beacons are essentially broadcasters of data. This data can be static, such as an identifier, public or obfuscated, or data from sensors.

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Supported Beacon Specifications

BlueCats beacon hardware and Platform provide complete flexibility to choose a beacon format best suited to your application. With BlueCats beacons you can support any of the following open or BlueCats proprietary specifications:

  • iBeacon – Apple’s release of the iBeacon BLE specification and deep native support in 2014 brought beacon technology to the main stream. Still the best choice for many consumer mobile app use cases where support for both iOS and Android devices is required.
  • Eddystone-UID, -URL (or Physical Web) and -EID – Eddystone is an open beacon format developed by Google and designed with transparency and robustness in mind. Eddystone can be detected by both Android and iOS devices.
  • BlueCats Secure, Sensor and Data Transfer – need to do something not supported by the open beacon protocols? BlueCats have a range of advertisements and BLE libraries to fill the gaps and extend the capabilities of a Bluetooth beacon network.

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Edge Relay Setup

The Edge Relay is a customisable gateway that allows you to scan for BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) traffic and send that data to different endpoints. Capture all of your Bluetooth devices in range using the popular formats: iBeacon, Eddystone, and our custom beacons. Control the flow of your data using signal smoothing, filtering, and throttling to get exactly the data you need. Once you have your data, you can communicate it to your endpoints using UDP or MQTT protocols.

Please visit the link below for the step-by-step setup process.

Edge Relay Setup

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Platform and tools

BlueCats Platform and Tools


Everything you need to build and manage your beacon project:

  • Beacons – secure, reliable and flexible with features and form factor to suit the needs of your project
  • BlueCats Web Manager and API to configure, manage and monitor beacons at scale.
  • BC Reveal management mobile app for iOS and Android.
  • Mobile SDKs to power proximity features using your beacons for your mobile apps for iOS or Android.

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Choosing the right beacon

  • AA Beacon. Our most popular beacon. Longest battery life and full Eddystone EID support with dust and weather resistant options.
  • USB Beacon. More than a beacon. Scan for beacons nearby and two-way communication between a mobile device and host of BLE via the USB beacon.
  • Coin Beacon. Compact and powerful. Supports all available Eddystone, iBeacon and BlueCats advertisement specifications with replaceable coin cell battery.
  • BC010 BLE Module. The BC010 can be connected directly to a battery or SMT soldered to a host PCB and is ideal for data logging from BlueCats Sensor Boards while the rest of the system is in sleep mode. The module is perfect for application where battery life, small form factor, RF performance and speed to market are important.

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BlueCats Web Manager

Bluetooth beacons are simple and cost effective to install and versatile to use for a wide range of proximity-based use cases. This means it is not uncommon to deploy hundreds or even thousands of individual beacons for a beacon project. Once you are tasked with managing more than a couple of beacons, it soon becomes apparent that a robust management platform is essential to keep track of your beacons.

The BlueCats Web Manager is the master console for the BlueCats Cloud and provides all of the features needed to manage the installation, configuration and monitoring of large-scale beacon networks. If you already have your account set up login at app.bluecats.com or follow these useful guides:

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Web API for automation and custom integrations

Need to automate updates to your beacons or surface information from the BlueCats Platform in your own application? The BlueCats REST Web API is perfect for the task.

Follow this step-by-step guide to get started or jump straight into the API Explorer and endpoint documentation.

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BlueCats Reveal – Mobile Admin App

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Building your project

Mobile SDK for iOS and Android

The BlueCats Mobile SDKs for iOS and Android provide Cross-platform Proximity Detection and Analytics. Once installed in an app, the SDK can:

  • Discover and range beacons nearby. The SDK manages Bluetooth scanning, beacon detection and filtering. Detected beacon identifiers and signal strength are then merged seamlessly with additional meta-data configured in the BlueCats Cloud.
  • Collect beacon health data and apply crowd-sourced updates to keep settings up to date.
  • Gather anonymous beacon visit insights – report on unique devices with your app installed coming into range of your beacons

Android

iOS

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iBeacon with or without the BlueCats Cloud

While the BlueCats SDKs provide cross-platform support for beacons configured to advertise the iBeacon protocol, there is the also the option to use native and third party libraries and applications with your beacons. This includes:
iOS Core Location and iBeacon for Developers to monitor and range iBeacons using native libraries
– Create location driven campaigns with rover.io
– Combine the power of geolocation and beacons with Bluedot
– Empower vision impaired people to navigate the world independently with Wayfindr

Useful guides for working with BlueCats iBeacons

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No app? Eddystone-URL and the Physical Web

Any BlueCats beacon can be configured to broadcast an Eddystone-URL advertisement. This means that instead of advertising a unique identifier (as is the case for iBeacon or Eddystone-UID), the data advertised is a URL – allowing discovery and link to content on the web directly from the Bluetooth advertisement without translation via a cloud service.

Use BlueCats Reveal to configure your beacon in Eddystone-URL mode. The beacon will then be discoverable by services utilising the Physical Web. Discovery of beacons and their related content on a mobile device still requires an app and large scale applications are limited, with the most notable example discovery with Google Chrome for Android and iOS. However the openness and simplicity of linking beacons to web content gives the Physical Web potential for interesting future integrations and services.

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Registering Eddystone-UID and iBeacon with Google Services

After using the BC Reveal app to configure your beacon to broadcast an iBeacon or Eddystone-UID advertisement, it can be registered with the Google Beacon Registry.

Why register your beacons with Google?

A beacon configured to broadcast iBeacon or Eddystone-UID that has been registered with Google can continue to be used with the BlueCats SDK or other beacon library or application. Registering the beacon associates the beacon’s advertised identifier (ibeacon proximity UUID, major and minor or Eddystone namespace and instance id) with meta-data in Google Services about the beacon’s location and usage. This meta-data can either be public (Google Place meta-data) or private (attachments). After registration your beacon can be used to:

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Eddystone-EID: Using Eddystone Configuration Service

Eddystone-EID uses rotating ephemeral identifiers to broadcast a more secure beacon signal, which helps prevent spoofing, malicious asset tracking, replay attacks, or any unpermitted access. Imagine a customer pushing their regular breakfast order to the kitchen as they approach their local café, pay for it with frequent flyer points via their preferred banking app, and access premium streaming content while they sit and enjoy the start to the day. Customers, merchants, banks, loyalty and content providers all benefit, and agree to collaborate to exchange information and items of tangible value because everyone trusts that the location is valid.

In order to register an Eddystone-EID beacon with the Google Beacon Registry, it first needs to be configured using Google Beacon Tools. To do this you need to:

  1. Login to the BlueCats Web Manager and then enable the Eddystone Configuration Service for the beacon (located under the ‘advanced’ section of the beacon edit screen). This will create a ‘pending settings update’.
  2. Apply the settings using BlueCats Reveal
  3. Register the beacon using Google Beacon Tools

You will then be able to use the beacon with any of the available Google Services, but instead of broadcasting a static and discoverable identifier, the beacon will transmit an identifier that periodically changes (hence ‘ephemeral’) adding an additional layer of security and verification when discovering beacons with your app, and control when sharing the beacons with others.

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