Bluetooth is what your phone uses to make a two-way connection with your speaker or your car. The two way connection uses a lot of energy to ensure that it stays connected. This is great for transferring music and media but bad for battery. This is what inspired the creation of Bluetooth Low Energy, (BLE), to use less energy yet still transmit and receive meaningful information. BLE allows for way one transmitters (Beacons) and one way receivers (phones, Edge relays, etc.).
Beacons are devices that use the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol to repeatedly send short transmissions, called advertisements, to mobile phones and other devices. Advertisements can contain identifier and/or sensor data and the brevity of these advertisements allows for battery operated use lasting several years.
Broadly, you can use Beacons for two main things:
Beacons are fairly simple devices that repeatedly broadcast their IDs. It is up to a phone, Edge Relay, or some other type of receiving device to add meaning to that broadcast. All mobile phones need an application. If you want to advertise notifications to people’s phones, take a look at our Nearby Notification page here.
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:
Beacons are essentially broadcasters of data. This data can be static, such as an identifier, public or obfuscated, or data from sensors or devices such as order ID.
All of our Beacons’ settings like transmission speed and power level are configurable. It should be noted that similar to WiFi, Bluetooth signal can get blocked by cement, metal, water, and even people!
Our two most popular beacons are the Coin and the AA Beacons. The Coin Beacons and the AA Beacons are functionally the same units (they have same internal module). They will both get around 100 meters. The main differences are form factor and battery life.
Our USB Beacon is a great alternative if you have a power source. The Beacon has a distance of 20-40 meters.
The battery lifetime of BlueCats’ beacons greatly depends on advertisement settings and type of battery used. Our Coin Beacons will last anywhere between 3 months, while the AA Beacons will last around 2 years. If you are going to leave the Beacons in one spot, we recommend the AA Beacon for less battery maintenance.
Claim codes are used to create accounts for new beacons or move new beacons into existing accounts. Claim codes are printed on insert cards included with your order.
There are several things that can affect the signal strength and interfere with beacons. These can include beacon mounting surface, obstructions in the environment such as metal, water (this includes our bodies), and other BLE signals.
As a general rule, you want to calibrate a beacon to its environment with the appropriate settings. This includes alterations in Target Speed and Loudness. Additionally, we recommend that Beacons not intended for NFC like use be placed high enough to avoid interference from physical obstacles.
Worried about interference with other Bluetooth and WiFi reliant devices? Don’t be.
Whilst our beacons broadcast Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) advertisements using the same 2.4GHz spectrum range as traditional Bluetooth and WiFi, using BLE will not interfere with any devices that use these signals.
Why? BLE is broadcast in a different way to traditional Bluetooth, using both different modulation and channels within the 2.4GHz spectrum (2403 MHz to 2480 MHz). This means that BLE and traditional Bluetooth are incompatible and prevents cross communication of devices. If your device is designed to connect over Bluetooth, it will not be impacted by BLE broadcasts and vice versa. Devices scanning for BLE (such as smartphones) only listen to the specific BLE channels of the spectrum.
In order to pull down the configurations of Beacons, use our Device Management API to pull down all of the Beacon information. For information about our API, visit https://bluecats.github.io/documentation/dman/BlueCats-API
Yes our beacons are compatible with Eddystone and iBeacon. Eddystone compatible firmware is available by request.
The BlueCats Edge Relay is a powerful device that is a Bluetooth Scanner that can send raw, filtered, or intelligently processed BLE scan data and events to whatever MQTT, HTTP, and UDP endpoint that you desire.
You can supply power to the Edge Relay via Power over Ethernet (PoE) or micro-USB. It can attach to Local Networks and the Internet via dual Ethernet ports or as a WiFi Client, and can additionally act as a WiFi Access Point
For more information and getting started visit here:
BlueCats (BC) Reveal is the BlueCats beacon management app. Reveal has been developed to assist in the deployment and management of BlueCats beacons. Reveal is much like a version of the web app on your phone, but unlike the web app Reveal has access to the BLE capabilities of your device. Role capabilities from the web app have been preserved to allow for ease of management and delegation. You can connect to beacons to update beacon advertising behavior or values or update beacons with changes saved from the web app that haven’t been applied to the beacon. BC Reveal can also upgrade the firmware on OTA compatible BlueCats beacons.