Using a relaxation/exercise example, the company notes that by creating your own beacon from widely-available Arduino components, you can overcome limitations with the Apple iBeacon specification. They make a strong argument for the approach:
In this tutorial, we will create a mobile app for Android and iOS, that uses an Arduino compatible board with a BLE shield to create a beacon. This can be thought of as a Do-It-Yourself version of Apple’s iBeacon technology – which is proprietary and restricts the way you can scan for beacons.
The reason we are using the Arduino for the beacons is that it can be easily programmed and that it is a cool tinker-friendly piece of technology that you can evolve far beyond the limits of iBeacons. The foundation of the iBeacon technology is the use of a small BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) device that periodically advertises a UUID (Universally Unique Identifier) – however we will use the BLE name which is accessible across all mobile devices.
Apple has specific criteria for how it broadcasts a Bluetooth LE signal and locks down the ability of developers to, for example, change the advertising packets when using your iPad or iPhone as a beacon (as noted by David Young of Radius Networks in a discussion of AltBeacon).
Using Arduino also helps you bypass a challenge with Android devices. Most can’t broadcast as a beacon device although the capability will be unlocked with Android-L, the latest version of the operating system.
Here’s a video of the demo app and its interaction with an Arduino beacon:
Share Your Thoughts
Thanks to Evothings for pinging us about the tutorial. And if you create your own Arduino beacons, let us know about it in the comments below!