New beacons, new BLE-cloud gateway, new iOS app and ...
2017 started with the important news of the new firmware release for our BLE beacons, providing simultaneous support for multiple beacon technologies (iBeacon and Eddystone for mobile proximity applications, with full support for Eddystone specifications, Quuppa for tag-based RTLS, BlueUp Sensors for environmental sensing), and it is continuing with many new features regarding the whole offer of firmware, software and hardware products.
Regarding the new firmware, we have added some improvements. In particular, the latest version (ver. 5.6) includes a couple of interesting features:
- advertising of connectable packets has been optimized to minimize the connection latency (required for beacon configuration) in the first 5 minutes after power-up, maintaining at the same time reduced power consumption during the operating life;
- BlueBeacon Tag (which integrates a tri-axis accelerometer) has been improved with two additional operating modes ("event-based" advertising): Advertising-on-Motion and Advertising-on-Shake, which enables the advertising of non-connectable packets (iBeacon, Eddystone, ...) only when the beacon is moved or shaked, respectively.
At the hardware level, we updated the model BlueBeacon Mini that, starting from the second half of March, will be supplied with a CR2477 battery (1000mAh nominal capacity), with an increase of the operating
life of more than 60% compared to the previous version (from a minimum of 6 months with 100msec-interval advertising to a maximum of 5 years with 5sec-interval advertising). All this while maintaining the same
plastic enclosure and compact size (40 x 40 x 15 mm) and the same price For those interested, we have available a final limited batch of units of BlueBeacon Mini with CR2450 battery that can be
purchased at extremely discounted price.
In April, it is planned the start of production of BlueBeacon Board, a BLE beacon in single-board format, which presents some interesting features: wide voltage range (2.7 to 30 VDC), two antenna options (integrated or external via UFL connector), availability of 8 GPIOs. BlueBeacon Board may also be provided in special stand-alone version in IP65/NEMA4 rugged enclosure with power lithium battery (with the possibility to use batteries up to 8000mAh capacity, for a virtually unlimited service life) or via an external AC/DC power supply. Also, it can be customized at firmware level with additional or alternative functions such as: UART/SPI/I2C communication, interfacing to digital I/Os, configuration as a Central to operate as beacon receiver.
Important changes are coming for BlueBeacon Gateway. This device works as a reader for BLE beacon, with an Ethernet interface. We have completely redesigned the mechanical aspect of the BlueBeacon Gateway, which is now incorporated in an elegant square enclosure with flanges for easy wall mounting. It will be available in two versions: with omnidirectional antenna and with directional 6dBi-gain antenna (for better definition of the coverage area, especially required for the access-control applications with BLE beacons).
BlueBeacon Gateway can used for different applications, such as:
- continuous 24/7 remote control systems for fixed-beacons installations;
- distributed monitoring systems of environmental parameters, with BlueBeacon Sensor (with temperature, humidity and pressure sensors);
- "zone-based" localization of beacon moving in a certain area, inside a building or a plant;
- access-control gates, with BlueBeacon Tag used as BLE identification device of personnel.
The distinguishing feature of BlueBeacon Gateway, compared to similar competing solutions, is the use of an open software and hardware platform. BlueBeacon Gateway is provided with APIs and basic pre-configured functionalities, but can be customized directly by customers (system integrators, developers, ...).
Regarding the management software, we have two new products. The free app
BlueBeacon Manager has been released for iOS, for the configuration of the beacons with new firmware. iOS BlueBeacon Manager app essentially provides the same functionalities as that for Android, but introduces an
important feature: the possibility to update beacon firmware directly with the app, without using third-party apps.
Soon, the BlueBeacon management back-end platform will be launched, in beta version. The back-end will be interfaced with the beacons through the BlueBeacon Manager app, dedicated APIs and also through BlueBeacon Gateway. In a first beta version, it will be available with limited functionalities for the visualization of beacons status (configuration settings, battery level, temperature, ...), but in the future more functions will be included: remote beacon update, beacon registration and synchronization, graphic display of measured parameters.