In 2018 who are the best beacon manufacturers out there?

Recently I’ve been asked to answer the question on Quora:?What is the best Bluetooth beacon manufacturer??As I was writing my answer I was beginning to realize that I got this question every day for the last 4 months from our customers since the launch of Beeem.
To elaborate on this matter further, I’d like to take this opportunity to give everyone a rundown of what our team has experienced with beacon manufacturers in commercial deployments.
Please note: We’re not affiliated with ANY beacon vendor, nor do we hold any stake in them or make any money directly or indirectly on beacon hardware sales.

Source: Radius Networks

We at Beeem have worked with most Google Eddystone certified beacon vendors (and a few that are not) and our mobile engagement platform is in use with most likely all types of Eddystone beacons, QR codes and NFC tags.
The best beacon for any job is always down to the details: project requirements, deployment and servicing issues and of course cost! Let’s get down to the details!

Things should take into consideration when selecting a beacon:

1. Battery life

Source: Estimote Blog

Thankfully as the new chipsets are getting better and better, battery life seems to be a non-issue finally. We get 14 months battery life with the EMBC01 from EM Micro and even the Radbeacon DOT lasts close to a year. The Location beacon from Estimote promises 7-year battery life (if the batteries last for that long, of course).


2. Casing of the beacon (in the case of outdoor deployments)
Sometimes we see people forgetting about having weather proofing beacons in mild climate areas such as Florida and around the Mediterranian in Europe. Even though you’d think you’re covered with the mild weather, the occasional storm will wipe away your fleet! Saving the $15-17 on the hardware is simply not a good idea here.

Source: Beeem

3.?Mounting and deployment issues
Let’s start off with theft and vandalism. Even though a beacon is not expensive, some people are just curious and may just strip you of a beacon. This is a real issue as was the case for the Google-funded?pilot in Manchester, UK. You have to keep in mind that you don’t only use the cost of the beacon hardware but the cost of the deployment as well. Also, access to dropped ceiling is a real must in a lot of indoor deployments.

4. Direct and indirect costs
Make sure customs issues are resolved well in advance and you know what part of the world the beacons are coming from! This is an issue with the Chinese vendors mostly but has been a showstopper for transatlantic deals too. Also, don’t forget about shipping costs!

Source: Solea DP

5. Pre-configuration, labeling options and cost of these services
For pre-configuration we’ve seen anything from $0 to $5 / beacon. This gets bigger and bigger as your deployment size is increasing. Doing a few beacons might not seem like much but once you’re into the dozens you’ll just spend hours and days with pre-configuring and labeling that might otherwise have been prevented. Beeem’s zero-configuration concept comes in really handy here: you get the beacons cloud-connected to your account so all the work will be done in the cloud!

6. Shipping and customs time
A rarely considered aspect of beacon deployments. We’ve seen dozens of projects where neglecting this aspect caused issues from delays to projects going down! Calculating with the necessary buffers for customs duties is always an issue with large orders. For a single beacon, you might be under the threshold of your country but you can never be sure.

Types of beacons for commercial deployments (and where you can go wrong with them):

A. Coin cell battery powered
The holy grail of beacons. Most of the beacons you know come with coin cell batteries. Did you know that batteries for some very high-profile beacons are very hard to get in most EU countries? Please check if you’ll have the ability to get new batteries at a reasonable cost!


B. AA or AAA battery powered
Did you know that the cost of your beacon hardware might double when you have to get or replace a battery? With some beacons, you’ll have the ability to recharge batteries this way to save some cost.

C. USB powered or pluggable
The smallest and least expensive beacons (at least in bulk) are these little things. A lot of vendors have them, but there are a few things to note with them in deployment: on the positive side, most POS terminals or countertop PCs have a USB slot to work with. But if you need to get a USB adapter, make sure your price is right!

D. Solar powered
A few vendors offer this option. Please note, that you should be all right under ambient lighting as well with these devices! Too good to be true? Probably, because the price point for these devices is way too high to justify the typical large-scale deployments.


E. Tags
A handful of manufacturers offer beacon products that are geared toward mobility. These tags come with significant trade-offs in flexibility and battery life but can be very convenient to use! Furthermore, in 2019 an Israeli-American startup called?Wiliot will be launching a passive Bluetooth beacon product!


Finally, our top choices for commercial deployments based on our own and the experience of our customers (in a random order):
Radius Networks
EM Microelectronic
Accent Systems

Honorable mentions go out to iBlio, they are not certified/featured by Google but produce excellent hardware and to Wiliot for working on most likely the biggest leap in beacon tech!

TOP 4 things to watch out for on Chrome for Android with beacons!

TOP 4 things to watch out-for on Chrome for Android with beacons

As all of you know, Google has finally launched the new?Chrome for Android?(version 49) to push physical web capabilities to some 5 million users. Here are the key takeaways from the experience of our users:

1. Use HTTPS!?

Chrome for Android does not let any HTTP URLs through! Even though Chrome for iOS works with HTTP URLs, it seems that Chrome for Android does not let them pass at all! Last week we added full HTTPS support to?Beeem to enable anyone to create a landing page with the physical web fully compliant with Google’s high security standards! This will add an extra layer of secutiry to users that will ensure that the physical web is going to be even more secure than the web itself!

2. Watch out for your OEM Android!?

With dozens of big Android vendors, everyone tries to get the maximum out of their phones. Several manufacturers use some sort of battery/performance optimization tools that tweak several things that might prevent from Chrome for Android in locating physical web beacons. The usual suspects are: Battery/performance profiles turning Bluetooth off (even if they are turned on in Android settings!) and preventing Chrome for Android launching on Boot.?In our?direct experience there is no single cure you should tweak around and wait as Google’s services may not locate physical web beacons on the fly (like on Chrome for iOS). Let’s hope this improves later on.

3. Turn it ON! 🙂

No matter how simple it seems, as Chrome does not prompt you to turn Bluetooth or the Physical web on, you might want to start with checking Bluetooth in your Android Settings and Enabling the Physical Web on Chrome @ Settings/Privacy/Physical Web! If you’re still stuck, you can take a look at?Google’s help.

4. Make sure your URL makes sense to the visitor!

If you followed these key steps all you have to do is make sure you have a meaningful landing page for your Beacon: beacon URLs only make sense if the provide real value to users! Keep in mind that the key to the physical web is interaction on demand. We’ve created the simplest and most powerful landing page editor for the physical web. You should try it out @? now!

With these key steps, you should be good to go with the physical web on Chrome for Android! Enjoy!

5 ways the physical web will move beyond beacons

5 ways the physical web will move beyond beacons

A few days ago Jeanette Cajide,?VP of Corporate Development for Dialexa wrote a post on the Huffington Post?on beacons. The post is a great summary?of the shortcomings of the iBeacon area: the adoption rate of beacons has been slow and users have not gotten a single, seamless point of entry on their UI for proximity-based content and interaction.?

In this post, We will elaborate on how Google’s concept of the physical web will move beyond the shortcomings of the iBeacon-area of proximity-based apps:

  1. No app downloads
    The physical web will remove the no. 1 obstacle between mobile users and the places they visit: the dreaded app download. With browsers (like Chrome on iOS?soon available on Android too?and Opera) and mobile Operating Systems?(like Chrome OS and Firefox OS) getting physical-web enabled rapidly soon over a billion devices on the planet will have a single point of entry for proximity-based content and interaction: the lockscreen.
  2. No direct messaging
    The physical web will do away with the privacy concerns of smartphone users: Google has implemented several measures to make sure no contact is necessary during service discovery.
    As with web search, Google handles the storing and sorting of information but without any direct control over the content of the URLs the service completely open and free. The formal nature of the web will make sure that no nagging mobile messaging will be without opt-ins. The clear standardized vision of the W3C on the matter is already implemented by Google in Chrome 42 on Android.
  3. Users opt-in with taping at content they choose
    The alarming opt-out rates discussed in Jeanette’s post are a clear sign that users do not want their smartphones to turn to a proximity-enabled ad-machines.
    This will be best served by Eddystone beacons and Google’s back end services acting as a proxy between the advertised URLs and the smartphone users. Browsers do not talk to the web servers directly during discovery: only after taping at a particular URL will the browser be launched and direct communication between the user’s phone and the website begin.
  4. A clear path on the UI for proximity-based content and interaction
    We will get rid of looking for and downloading QR code reader apps, pointing cameras at codes that do not seem to work, we will get rid of service discovery issues in app-based beacon-enabled content and interaction. The browser will serve as the principal source of content and interaction around us and will serve the relevant places and things at our convenience at a single point of entry: the lock screen.
  5. No beacons!
    The most promising feature of the physical web is not requiring installed, dedicated hardware: The Wi-Fi Alliance is already pushing Wi-Fi Aware to rival Bluetooth Smart and both Mac OS X and Windows 10 have universal Bluetooth libraries that enable 240?000 000 PCs in the world to power the physical web and act as Bluetooth beacons today.

With these advances, app-less proximity-based content and interaction will soon be available to practically anyone regardless of mobile platform, physical location and market size.

Try?world?s first content and interaction platform?for the physical web?that will enable all of these advantages, sign up for Beeem?now!

#physicalweb #ibeacon #eddystone #beacon

4 peeks at the future of mobile life

4 peeks at the future of mobile life

With a host of exciting news in recent weeks the future of proximity-based interaction on mobile looks ever more promising. Innovation in the domain is stepping up with several players producing wonderful results from the likes of the Wi-Fi Alliance, Opera Software, the Mozilla Foundation and Google.??

In this post, we will take a look at the 4 major areas of innovation that will shape proximity-based content and interaction on mobile:

  1. Proximity-based content and interaction from Bluetooth to WiFi
    With the Wi-Fi Alliance introducing the specification of Wi-Fi Aware?the most obvious networking base technologies already actively support proximity-based mobile interaction. In the near future there will be a host of possibilities to advertise proximity-based content and interaction to nearby mobile devices: with the Bluetooth stack inching towards massive acceptance, the rival Wi-Fi stack is catching up.
    Patrick Keane’s recent tutorial on how to set up a simple mDNS physical web advertiser is a great example of what’s to come: beacons will play a role whenever infrastructure is not set for a long term for example at events. In other industries like retail Wi-Fi-based technologies will compete beside Bluetooth beacons for the role of infrastructure for the physical web.
  2. Engage with?Mac and Windows without beacons
    The most attention?in proximity-based mobile technologies was stolen by beacons: the iBeacon vs. Eddystone war is a great example of how the big tech companies can steal the attention of the media with a standards war.
    But there is a large untapped set of beacons available right now everywhere in the world: users of Mac OS X and Windows 10.0 can simulate beacons with the Bluetooth radios of their computers. With Mac OS X hovering around a 5% global market share and the affected version of Windows holding a close to 7%?according to PC World, 1 in 4 computers in the world is capable of proximity-based content and interaction right now. That is a whopping 240 000 000 potential software-based beacons?compared to a few million beacons currently in use.
    The first attemt at simulating physical web beacons was made available by?Mikael Jergefelt?on Github. A big thank you is well deserved for all contributors! The project is available at the following link.
    Another noteworthy project on the subject is Chrome OS.?Fran?ois Beaufort’s recent post points out that Chrome OS devices are now capable of advertising as an Eddystone beacon that will play a major role in digital signage among other areas.
  3. Go app-less in any mobile browser with the physical web
    Opera Physical Web Beacons with Beeem
    One of the most exciting pieces of news in recent weeks has been the post of Opera Software’s?Bruce Lawson on Opera Labs’s latest Android release with their implementation of the physical web. The early development release is a very pleasant surprise. The interface is well thought out, the recognised eddystone beacons are well complemented with georeferenced wikipedia and other complementary content that creates a great UX. We truly see the future in this release and hope other browser developers are soon recognizing the importance of implementing the physical web in their strategies to provide proximtiy-based content and interaction on mobile.
    Among the innovators from Norway, the folks at Firefox OS team have already implemented the physical web and are hard at work at WebBluetooth.?Jan Jongboom’s post on the matter is a great read and a wonderful look at the future of mobile computing in general.
  4. Mobile notifications from?your favourite website
    Mobile notifications on Chrome 42 on AndroidWith the release of Chrome 42 on Android mobile notifications can be pushed to a Chrome user even when the browser is not running. With app usage concentrating to just a few apps Google’s vision is to empower the web with a set of features that will make it much more easy and convenient to use websites on mobile just like any app. This vision of the mobile web is further expanded with the physical web: adding a layer of physical context of the places and events around us will open up new advances in mobile computing.

Try?world?s first content and interaction platform?for the physical web?that will enable all of these advantages, sign up for Beeem?now!

#physicalweb #ibeacon #eddystone #beacon

The 3 new dimensions of store design for 2016

the 3 new dimensions of store design for 2016

As the global mobile phone and tablet penetration is widening?the opportunities for expanding brick & mortar retail become a reality on a massive scale: digital signage will move beyond pre-installed displays?and move onto the screens of the consumers.
In this post, we will take a look at the 3 new dimensions of a store that every store design professional will have to go for in 2016.

  1. Content
    “Content is King”?- the famous quote from Bill Gates. Soon this will be true for retail. Having on-the-spot mobile content in stores will become a part of the routine for store design. From simple information sheets to animation, videos or even information on available stocks of a particular product inside the store will be the norm. To do this in a convenient and cost efficient fashion, the physical web will offer the necessary toolset for retailers: easy content management and seamless integration will be the key drivers over an App-based approach.
    Your store will act like your webshop and your customers will browse with their feet.
  2. Engagement
    Your customers love their smartphones but they will not engage with you with their devices?unless you provide real value: this will most simply be done with omnichannel loyalty programs: coupons and loyalty cards are the norm these days in most every form and it is a shame the world is still tied to plastic and paper. This can be done with apps but development is painful and expensive. It took Starbucks 10 months to roll out in the US?and is only partially rolled out in the UK. This app-based approach will only work with the most loyal, fan-like customer-base and only with brands that have significant following. For the other 90 percent of companies the much more convenient and cost effective physical web approach will provide the adequate entry point for engagement.
    You will be able to get rid of your expensive paper and plastic-based loyalty programs and coupons and drive revenue with e-commerce grade targeting.
  3. Payment
    The most important?piece of the puzzle is completing the transactions. Payment will be much less expensive and much more data-rich through the devices of the customers. Compared to traditional POS solutions card processing fees range way lower in on-line payment processing due not requiring any devices or network access for the card readers. But the biggest added value will be the data: more data about the customers will ultimately allow for better customer service.?Integrating mobile payment in retail apps will be expensive though. There is a much more cost effective method: the physical web will enable the key integration to web payment processing services that will make processing retail transactions a breeze.
    On the physical web your customers will pay just like they do on a webshop.

With over 2.5 billion smartphones new dimensions of retail are emerging. Having the targeting precision and data-rich decision-making of e-commerce with the colorful nature of brick & mortar retail will set new possibilities for retailers and brands alike.

Try?world?s first content and interaction platform?for the physical web?that will enable all of these advantages, sign up for Beeem?now!

#retail #retailtech #ibeacon #eddystone #beacon