Saturday, November 29, 2014

book notes for Building Applications with iBeacon

I am always very interested in the location-based mobile applications, in particular indoor location apps. I've even explored a little bit about creating a mobile app that helps locating and assembling colleagues in a crowded cafeteria during lunch. At that time, what I learned is that indoor tracking is still an area being actively researched and explored, many solutions use wifi router capabilities specific to vendors such as Cisco.

Lately, I have quickly went through Matt Gast's book on iBeacon: Building Applications with iBeacon. This is a very concise book on the topic, only 80 pages. It gives a quick overview about iBeacon technology mainly focused on iOS.

Here are the book notes I took:


One of the earliest developers of beacon technology. Estimote beacons have fixed configuration parameters and, in particular, administrators cannot set the UUID.

RadBeacon is a $29 USB dongle that performs the transmission functions of an iBeacon. All you have to supply is USB power. Configuration of the beacon’s numbers is done through an app.

Kontakt sells an ARM-based iBeacon as well as tools for manag ing iBeacons and analyzing user interactions with them.

Also compatible with android

Gelo’s Beacons are waterproof and designed for both indoor and outdoor use, and the batteries can be replaced manually using simple tools.

  • Mac (Yosemite stops supporting Mac as iBeacon)
  • iOS devices
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Arduino: BLEduino, BLE Mini from RedBearLab
  • Nordic Semi nRF1822

iOS Apps

- A personal notification beacon for the iPhone. It comes with a beacon device and Geohopper for iOS. It sends notification based on your geo-location. It also integrates with web services for automated workflow.

(Developer Tools)

There are lots of developer util tooks that turns iOS devices into iBeacons. The list can go on and on, here are some apps I found in the app store:
  • Beacon Broadcaster
  • Locate Beacon (from Radius Networks)
  • Beacon Manager
  • My Beacon
  • Beacon Toolkit
  • Beacon Harvester: help you find and save iBeacons around you
  • Beacon Bits

One interesting use case for iBeacon is the treasure hunt games. There are several demoes during the mobile developer conferences, very interesting to connect mobile and real world in a playful way. For example, Beacon Scavenger Hunt (from Radius Networks) is a treasure hunt game to collect scavenger hunt’s badges.

Mac Apps

It was very bad that Yosemite does not support turning a Mac into an iBeacon. Maybe this is one of the bugs with Yosemite?

Mavericks as an iBeacon:

a nice thread on StackOverflow about turning your mac into iBeacon:

Use Cases

10 things to do with iBeacon:

Other Useful Resources

Apple's Official Doc on iBeacon:
Radius Networks Developer Guides: a website dedicated to topics on beacons with Bluetooth Low Energy tech (BLE)