Bluetooth low energy beacon
Beacon acts as a tiny radio transmitter for Bluetooth. This hardware component is either driven by batteries or Is USB powered. The device incessantly transmits Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals which are visible to the other smart devices.
This device falls under the category of Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) device which is capable of broadcasting a universally unique identifier to the portable electronic devices which lie within its range. Such a device consumes low power and has a narrower range in terms of it’s broadcasting capability.
Bluetooth beacon acts as a one way transmitting unit to the other devices like a receiving smartphone having the necessary application installed in the smartphone to receive the transmitted signal. Thus security is ensured as the installed app is only provisioned to perform various actions like tracking of the users.
Beacons are generally operated by the apps installed in the smart devices and the cloud services. The app determines the nearby devices and the cloud services detect the location of the beacons and together they produce the context-aware data based on the user’s nascent environment(approximately up to 20-50 meter). The beacon technology is making rapid and thriving developments in the field of location searching technology and proximity marketing.
Bluetooth beacon technology Source: https://www.blueupbeacons.com/
A comparative study of the Beacon protocols:
|iOS version 7.0
|Alternative to iBeacon
|Android and iOS compatible, native for iOS only
|Android and iOS compatible, compatible with platforms that supports BLE beacons
|Android and iOS
|Proprietary software controlled by Apple
|Open source under open-source apache v2.0 for access and contribution by developers
|Platform supported by
|Bluetooth, WiFi and near ultrasonic sounds
|Proximity Beacon API
|Structure of advertising packets
|Contains UUID(16 bytes), Major(2 bytes), Minor(2 bytes). Tx Power(1 byte)
|Packet structure depends on the type of packets:
|AltBeacon advertisement makes use of the Manufacturer Specific Advertising Data structure. AltBeacon advertisement contains :length field(1 byte), type field(1-byte) and company identifier(2 bytes), followed by 24 additional bytes carrying the beacon advertisement data
|There are four types of packets-
|(1)Eddystone-UID- Contains Static ID 10 bytes namespace and 6 bytes instance
|(2) Eddystone-URL- contains compressed URL which is directly usable by the client
|(3) Eddystone-TLM-Provides the status data
|(4) Eddystone-EID-It is a time-varying data which can be authorized by clients, allowing more security methods
|Number of broadcast packets
|Broadcasts only one advertising packet
|Broadcasts four advertising packets
|Ranging/ Proximity states
|4 different proximity states-Immediate, Near, far, Unknown
|Proximity information, location-based services, indoor localization, indoor positioning
|Retail marketing( coupons, rewards, savings), Events(real time updates), asset tracking, Indoor location, and navigation, tourism(museums, guided tours)
|Retail marketing( coupons, rewards, savings), tourism, events
|Ease of usage
|Easy to implement
|As it sends more number of packets compared to iBeacon, it requires complex coding for integration. /but is it flexible
|Privacy control, App alerts running in the background, Launching an App that has been shut down, Proximity reporting to the app using the ranging API.
|Beacon management and configuration, the ability to send URL to the scanner, Privacy and security measures, integrated with the chrome browser in the user device
With Google’s $2.1 billion recent purchase of Fitbit a few Fitbit features are likely to bid goodbye.
- Vesra 2 to Vesra 3: The system-level support for Alexa, Versa 2 brought about small yet significant modifications resulting in delightful features for the fitness acumen users. However, Google Assistant appears to be all set to take off with the Vesra 3.
- Fitbit Pay to Google Pay: Fitbit pay was not too popular with the users compared to Google Pay’s popularity of service among the users. The Fitbit Pay name is soon expected to be replaced.
- Fitbit premium: With Fitbit Premium service the users unlocked the smarter and personalized insights as well as guidance for health improvement. With Google’s latest acquisition, the Google-Fitbit users are likely to enjoy a free benefit of premium features.
- Rebranding Google Fit: With grand customer satisfaction for the Fitbit app due to ease of connectivity and a lucrative dashboard, it was something to envy for the other health tracking apps in the market including Apple Health and Google Fit. Rebranding and redesigning are likely on their way with the integration of Google Fit’s Heart Points and Move Minutes.
- Dedicated sleep tracking: sleep tracking features on the Fitbit devices smartly tracks the user’s sleeping pattern, duration and gifts its users with excellent battery life. Google, unfortunately, lacks such a dedicated app but changes are hopefully on their way.
- Amalgamation of Fitbit OS with Wear OS: with limited features of Fitbit OS, merging with Wear OS is certainly going to be a joyful experience for the users.
7. Improves notifications: With Google in charge, notifications on devices are likely to undergo betterment. It particularly appears to be promising on android platforms with Google Assistant integration.
Patent portfolio of key players in “Bluetooth Beacon”
Prime application areas of BLE(Bluetooth low energy) Beacon:
The Market growth of BLE Beacon can be seen from the infographic below:
Why Google acquired Fitbit?
- Google has some or the other products (like Google assistant is used in Tile tracker devices) in all the application areas of BLE except Healthcare.
- This future growth in BLE Beacon gives Google the front door entrance to foray into Healthcare segments as formerly explored by Apple, Amazon etc.
- Hence the acquisition of Fitbit occurs.
Patent portfolio of Fitbit which will benefit Google