Bluetooth Beacons 101 Follow
A primer in everything iBeacon.
If you're reading this, you are either curious about iBeacons or have purchased a set of iBeacons for your Cuseum visitor app experience. We've compiled this guide to help you hit the ground running for providing proximity aware experiences to your guests and visitors.
What is a Bluetooth Beacon?
A Bluetooth beacon, in its simplest form, is a small battery-powered Bluetooth device. Bluetooth beacons transmit a low power signal that can be seen by a Bluetooth-enabled smart device such as an iPhone.
When the iPhone sees the Bluetooth beacon's signal, it receives the following pieces of information:
- UUID: Universally Unique Identifier.
- Major: An integer between 1 and 65535.
- Minor: An integer between 1 and 65535.
- Signal Power (calculated RSSI): The power of the transmitter to send the signal out.
The Bluetooth beacons we provide are passive, which means they are unable to intercept any information from a phone. Think of them as little digital signs, and your iPhone is a set of eyes that can read them.
When a smart device such as an iPhone is within range of the Bluetooth beacon, it will detect the beacon, and then must determine what to do. This set of instructions on what to do does not come from the beacon, but instead from the application that is detecting the beacon. In our case, the CMS (your Cuseum dashboard) is the application that provides the instructions.
We currently have two different styles of Bluetooth beacon use cases:
- Active (Notifications): Active notifications can be set via the CMS either on the Object Page or the Custom Notification Page. They will display in the foreground or background of the Cuseum Visitor App when a visitor is within the defined range.
- Passive (Near Me): Passive notifications are when a user presses the Near Me button on the Cuseum Visitor App. This will display for the user all of the Objects (with an assigned beacon) are near them. Beacons can be assigned from the Object Page.
Here at Cuseum, we are working hard to ensure a seamless experience for both you and your visitors. In order to do this, we have searched high and low and tested numerous Bluetooth beacons to figure out which ones provide the most consistent signal, the easiest setup, and a minimal form factor to ensure they not only work but don't intrude on a physical space.
We are unable to guarantee the accuracy or consistency of non-supported beacons.
That being said, we are always looking to expand our offering. If you have a Bluetooth Beacon you wish to support, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add them to our research list.
Installation of Beacons
Once you have received your Bluetooth beacon package, installation is simple.
- Read the beacon label.
- Stick the beacon to the wall at chest level, facing outward with the sticky side facing the wall.
- Make note of the beacon's label and location for your institution's records.
Need a little assistance?
We are happy to help and walk you through the various popular use cases in order to ensure you have the best experience for your visitors. Just drop us a line at email@example.com.
We have written additional guides for specific beacon types:
We test all beacons that we ship to you. However, we recommend that you run a few tests as well to determine if your space introduces any environmental interference.
- Enable Bluetooth on your smart device.
- Open the iOS application at least 20 feet away from the beacon you are testing.
- Walk towards the beacon with the phone in your hand.
- The notification should appear on your screen 10-15 feet away from the beacon.
- If you see the alert, you are finished testing the beacon. If not, continue to walk towards the beacon to determine if the signal is being seen by the iOS device.
The app won't trigger.
- Go to your Cuseum dashboard and confirm that the beacon has been entered/selected properly.
- Clear your dashboard cache. Go to your Cuseum dashboard and click on this button in the top right navigation panel.
- If you have made an edit/update to the beacons within your Cuseum dashboard, it may take approximately 15 minutes for the beacons to fully synchronize and connect. If this is the case, close the app and wait those 15 minutes to restart.
- If your phone isn't running the latest version of iOS, try making the upgrade.
- Confirm the success of the beacon installation by revisiting the section above.
- Force quit and reopen the app.
The wrong notification is triggered.
- Your beacon's range might be too wide. If so, your phone is probably picking up another beacon's signals. This is why we recommend restricting the range to 9 feet, which you can do within your Cuseum dashboard.
- You might be experiencing delays with the refresh capabilities of the app. If you're still receiving a notification for a space you've left, wait a few minutes or restart the app.
Still experiencing issues with your beacons?
Still experiencing issues with your beacons? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll personally provide troubleshooting assistance.
How long do beacons last?
Approximately 1 year. However, depending on the power settings of the beacon, the maximum life capacity is up to 5 years.
Do beacons only work with iOS devices?
No, beacons work on both iOS and Android devices.
Do beacons affect a phone’s life?
Beacons will not impact a cellphones battery life. However, turning on Bluetooth on your cell phone can cause an increased battery drain. We have done our best to reduce this impact.
Will beacons work if there no wifi or cell reception?
Yes, beacons work when there is no wifi or cell reception.
Will physical barriers interfere with the beacon's signal?
Beacons use Bluetooth low energy (BLE) signals, transmitting radio waves that can penetrate physical barriers like walls. With that being said, excessive material might absorb the signal as might installing a beacon at foot-level.