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BlueBeacon Manager App for Android

BlueBeacon Manager App for iOS

Technical performance

Technical performance

What are the distinctive radio features of BlueBeacon devices?

BlueBeacon series devices has state-of-art radio performances, superior to most of the beacon devices in commerce. This result is guaranteed by a series of technological choices which were adopted on BlueBeacon:
- Use of award-winning nRF51822 radio chip from Nordic, that offers superb radio and energy consumption performance;
- Meandered PIFA (Planar Inverted F Antenna) printed antenna, that offers superior performance in terms of gain compared with commonly adopted chip antennas;
- Antenna designed to be impedance-matched in the presence of the plastic enclosure, thereby reducing reflection losses;
- RF matching network based on a single chip (balun), which reduces the insertion losses with respect to conventional matching networks based on discrete elements.
Thanks to these solutions, BlueBeacon devices transmit a higher power level by a factor of 2 to 4 compared to competing devices, assuming the same RF power transmitted by the radio chip. This allows to reduce the transmitted power by the chip, with a consequent reduction in current consumption and, therefore, increase of the operating life of the batteries. Moreover, a higher power level ensures better signal stability at the receiver and an increase in the transmission range.

How accurate is ranging with beacons?

Ranging with beacons is based on the value of RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator), i.e., the value of the RF signal received by your smartphone. The received signal is strongly affected by several parameters, such as the relative orientation and position of your smartphone with respect to beacon, the presence of the human body, reflection and diffraction from the environment (especially metallic structures), and more. Thus RSSI cannot provide an exact measure of distance in a complex environment (it should be true in a ideal free-space scenario), but just a rough estimation of the proximity of your smartphone to the transmitting beacon. Moreover, consider that accuracy strongly depends on advertising interval. Nevertheless, beacon proper installation may guarantee a partial improvement in ranging performance: please contact us for suggestions on this aspect.

Which is the maximum transmission range?

Maximum transmission range (e.g., the maximum distance where beacon signal can be received) depends on several factors. The most important is the transmitted power: the higher is the TX power, the longer is the distance, but there is no linearity between these two quantities, due the propagation laws. Other aspects that impact on transmission range are:
- beacon installation position: the higher is the beacon above ground, the longer is the distance;
- operating environment: propagation scenario, presence of obstacles, onjects (especially matals and liquids), people, between and/or nearby the beacon and the receiver, ha a non-negligible effect on distance;
- receiver performances: gain and sensitivity of the receiver vary among different smartphone models, and sensivity can be also affected by external factors. such as presence of radiating wireless devices nearby
- other factors: including reciprocal orientation between beacon and smartphone, the way the user hold the smartphone in his/her hand;
The following table offers the theorethical maximum distance, for different beacon TX power values, evaluated under the hypothesis of a receiver (smartphone) with -90dBm sensitivity (minimum value of RSSI) Results are obtained in case of beacon and smartphone at 1.5 mt above ground, in LOS free-space condition.

Mini Maxi Forte Sensor Tag USB
+4 dBm 100 m 100 m 110 m 100 m 80 m -
0 dBm 60 m 60 m 65 m 60 m 50 m 30 m
-8 dBm 25 m 25 m 30 m 25 m 20 m 12 m
-20 dBm 6 m 6 m 7 m 6 m 5 m 3 m
How long will the battery last?

Battery operating lifetime in BlueBeacon beacons (second-generation firmware) depends on: average advertising period (main factor), average transmitted RF power, operating temperature value and variations, enabling of special operating modes ("non-connectable" mode, "anonymous" mode, operating daily schedule, ...).
Battery life can be increased by:
- increasing frame advertising interval, and/or
- decreasing frame transmission power, and/or
- setting the beacon in "non-connectable" mode, and/or
- setting the beacon in "anonymous" mode, and/or
- setting a daily operating schedule, and/or
- enabling "Accelerometer-mode" (for BlueBeacon Tag, only).
The following tables provide a reference of expected operating life (expressed in months, with respect to average TX power and average advertising interval), for each of our battery-powered beacons, BlueBeacon Mini, Maxi, Forte, Sensor and Tag. The following values are estimated on the basis of the current absorption measured in our labs and of the nominal battery capacity and self-discharge as as provided by the battery producer. The operating temperature is assumed to be around 20/25°C. In case of significantly different temperature conditions (and in particular, at lower temperatures) operating lifetime may be affected. Continuous (24/7) operation is assumed. Also, enabling Eddystone-EID and eTLM decreases battery life of about 15/20%.

BlueBeacon Mini (Battery: CR2477, nominal capacity: 1000 mAh) - Expected lifetime in months
0.1 sec 0.3 sec 0.5 sec 0.7 sec 1.0 sec 5.0 sec
0 dBm 6 17 24 30 36 58
-8 dBm 7 18 25 31 37 59
-20 dBm 8 19 27 33 39 60

BlueBeacon Maxi (Battery: 2xAA alkaline, nominal capacity: 2600 mAh) - Expected lifetime in months
0.1 sec 0.3 sec 0.5 sec 0.7 sec 1.0 sec 5.0 sec
0 dBm 18 45 63 75 89 130
-8 dBm 20 48 66 79 92 131
-20 dBm 22 52 70 83 95 132

BlueBeacon Forte (Battery: CR123A, nominal capacity: 1500 mAh) - Expected lifetime in months
0.1 sec 0.3 sec 0.5 sec 0.7 sec 1.0 sec 5.0 sec
0 dBm 11 28 41 50 62 102
-8 dBm 12 30 43 53 65 104
-20 dBm 13 32 46 57 68 106

BlueBeacon Sensor (Battery: 2xAA alkaline, nominal capacity: 2600 mAh) - Expected lifetime in months
0.1 sec 0.3 sec 0.5 sec 0.7 sec 1.0 sec 5.0 sec
0 dBm 18 40 54 63 72 97
-8 dBm 19 43 56 65 74 98
-20 dBm 21 45 59 68 76 99

BlueBeacon Tag (Battery: 2xCR2032, nominal capacity: 440 mAh) - Expected lifetime in months
0.1 sec 0.3 sec 0.5 sec 0.7 sec 1.0 sec 5.0 sec
0 dBm 2.5 7 10 12 15 25
-8 dBm 3 7.5 11 13 16 26
-20 dBm 3 8 11.5 14 17 27
How you can maximize the battery life?

To maximize the operating life of the batteries, we recommend the following strategies (referring to beacons with second-generation firmware), consistent with the type of application:
1. increase the values advertising interval of the slots. Battery life is approximately proportional with the advertising interval. A longer advertising interval introduces, however, a possible latency in the detection of the beacons and a lower stability of the received signal level (leading to a larger error in distance estimation);
2. reduce the transmission power. This parameter has lesser impact on the operating life of the batteries, but has a certain relevance for coin batteries. The reduction in power naturally causes a reduction of the maximum communication distance;
3. set an operating daily schedule: by enabling advertising from 8am to 8pm, for instance, roughly doubles battery life;
4. set "position-detection" mode (only for BlueBeacon Tag): in this case, the beacon enters low-power mode when lying on a plane;
5. set the beacon in "non-connectable mode".

Is battery replaceable?

Yes. All battery-powered BlueBeacon devices allow to easily replace the battery.