What is a Beacon Sensor?
Beacon sensor is small always-on transmitters, which use Bluetooth Low Energy technology to broadcast signals to nearby portable devices (tablets and smartphones). The action range is around 300 feet (90 meters).
The beacon sensors can only transmit data, but not receive. The nearby devices are detected, and digital marketing messages are sent to the target devices. Some people compare beacon sensors with lighthouses, which can send a signal and make aware of the surrounding devices of their existence.
The beacons are used in conjunction with mobile applications. Such applications receive a universally unique identifier to perform various functions such as the physical location of a device, tracking customers, triggering a location-based action (check-in or push notification).
The history of Bluetooth technology, which was known as short-link radio, began in 1989. The technology was initiated by Ericsson Mobile Company in order to develop wireless headsets. Since then, Bluetooth technology has experienced a long way of development and several generations.
As for the narrower meaning of BLE beacons, their history began in 2013, when the first BLE beacon protocol called iBeacon was introduced by Apple. iBeacon is not a physical product, but a standard of Apple embedded in iOS7. This system allows Apple devices such as iPad and iPhone to scan the available Bluetooth devices nearby and response their signals.
Another prominent company, Google, announced its beacon sensor technology a bit later – in 2015. Google called its technology after a U.K. famous lighthouse – Eddystone. The main difference of Eddystone from iBeacon is that Google’s platform is open source. The other distinctions are associated with the implementations of platforms.
However, these two protocols are not the only ones, since the history of BLE beacons knows also AltBeacon and URIBeacon. The first one is the first open-source analog to iBeacon. The second one is a platform to send an URL instead of transmitting an identifier.