Support


In this section, you may find the answer to your technical and questions. If the information provided in this page does not fulfil your needs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

General info

What is a beacon?

A beacon is an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract attention to a specific location (ref. Wikipedia). A classical example of beacon is the lighthouse, used in navigation, that helps navigators to find their destination. In electronics, a beacon is a wireless device (usually called "radio beacon") that periodically broadcast a radio signal, that is picked up by a receiver and used to determine the position with respect to the beacon itself.

What is iBeacon technology?

iBeacon is the trademark for an indoor positioning system developed byApple Inc. This system enables a smartphone or other device (e.g. tablet) to receive a signal transmitted and perform actions when in close proximity to a device (beacon) that uses iBeacon technology. iBeacon uses the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard, also known as Bluetooth Smart. A beacon that supports iBeacon technology uses BLE to periodically transmit a unique identifier, composed by an universal unique identifier, UUID, 128 bits, a major number, 16 bits, and a minor number, 16 bits. iBeacon specifications defines the format of the advertising packet broadcast by the beacon, the advertising channels, the advertising interval, and the procedure for RSSI calibration.

What is Eddystone specifications?

Eddystone is an open beacon format from Google for Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons. The Eddystone specification includes a number of broadcast frame types: UID, URL, TLM.
The Eddystone-UID frame broadcasts an opaque, unique 16-byte Beacon ID composed of a 10-byte namespace ID and a 6-byte instance ID. The Beacon ID may be useful in mapping a device to a record in external storage. The namespace ID may be used to group a particular set of beacons, while the instance ID identifies individual devices in the group.
The Eddystone-URL (the backbone of the Physical Web) frame broadcasts a URL using a compressed encoding format in order to fit more within the limited advertisement packet.
The Eddystone-TLM frame broadcasts telemetry information about the beacon itself such as battery voltage, device temperature, and counts of broadcast packets.

Are BlueBeacon devices compatible with all mobile OSs?

Yes. BlueBeacon devices are compatible with all mobile operating systems, supporting Bluetooth Low Energy: iOS (7.0 and later, for CoreLocation iBeacon support), Android (4.3 and later), Windows Phone 8, Blackberry 10.

Where I can find technical support documentation?

In addition to the information contained in the Support page and in web pages of each product, here you will find technical documentation (in english) about our products of BlueBeacon series:
- iBeacon-version Services and Characteristics
- Eddystone-version Services and Characteristics
- OTA firmware update procedure
- Configuration and installation procedures
For additional technical documentation on our products, please contact us by phone or email.
You can find technical information on iBeacon and Eddystone at the following links:
- Apple Developers - iBeacon
- Google Developers - Eddystone

Configuration and settings (iBeacon version)

Where I can find APIs for your beacons with iBeacon technology?

Our beacons can be used without proprietary APIs. For iOS (version 7 and above), you can directly use native CoreLocation API, that contains the functions for beacon identification, region monitoring and proximity estimation. For Android devices (version 4.3 and above), we suggest a free open-source library, that allows to manage custom BLE advertising packets from beacons, including iBeacon technology format, and implements similar functions to those of iOS CoreLocation.

iBeacon technology is only for Apple devices?

No. iBeacon technology has been developed and launched by Apple, and is natively supported in iOS (version 7 and above), thanks to CoreLocation APIs. However, since iBeacon technology is based on Bluetooth Low Energy, it is compliant with all mobile operating systems that support Bluetooth 4.0.

How can I configure beacons with iBeacon technology?

Configuration can be easily performed through our iOS app BlueBeacon Tool, freely available on AppStore and Google Play. Configure Beacons option must be selected.
Main iBeacon advertising parameters can be configured: proximity UUID, major, minor, advertising interval, transmitted power. Additionally, it is possible to:
- set the device in connectable / non-connectable state (connectable by default);
- set the device in ON/OFF state (in OFF state power consumption is reduced by a factor 10; ON by default);
- read battery status also in non-connectable state.
- assign an alphanumeric identifier to the device;
- calibrate RSSI in-situ;
- set an optional access password (8 decimal digits), user modifiable (password-protected access not set by default).

What is the meaning of the Bluetooth icon color?

The color of the Bluetooth icon, under the image of the beacon, has the following meaning:
- blue: beacon in connectable state;
- grigio: beacon in non-connectable state.
To return the beacon in connectable mode, you must remove and replace the power supply.

Are beacons always connectable?

By default, beacons are shipped with connection option enabled ("connectable mode"). Connectable beacons are listed with the Bluetooth logo in the Configure Beacons view of the BlueBeacon Tool app. If the beacon is connectable, it is possible to access it and read/modify the configuration parameters. Among configuration parameters, you can modify the connection option, by setting the beacon in "non-connectable mode". Non-connectable beacons are listed with the iBeacon logo in the Configure Beacons view of the BlueBeacon Tool app.

BlueBeacon is in "non-connectable mode": can I modify its parameters?

If the beacon is in "non-connectable mode" (listed with iBeacon logo in Configure Beacons view), it works as a simple transmitter, that periodically broadcasts the iBeacon-formatted BLE advertising packet. Thus, you cannot connect to it and modify parameters. But, you can read, through the BlueBeacon Tool, beacon data and settings (model, serial number, proximity-UUID, major, minor, advertising interval, TX power), battery status and RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) value. If you want to update beacon configuration, you have to remove and insert again the battery (for BlueBeacon USB you have to remove and insert it in the USB connector): for a limited period (15 seconds) after startup, the BlueBeacon is connectable, and you can modify the values of the parameters, including setting the beacon again in "connectable mode".

It is suggested to use the beacon in "connectable mode" or "non-connectable mode"?

It depends on your installation requirements. If beacon are in "connectable mode", every time you can access them and modify parameters. In this case, it is crucial to enable "secure access mode" with a different password on every beacon, in order to prevent beacon undesired access. If parameters modification is not required for your application, we strongly suggest to set the beacons in "non-connectable mode". This is a more secure option, since nobody can access beacon and modify parameters. Additionally, in "non-connectable mode" current consumption is up to 30% lower than that in "connectable mode", thus leading to a longer operating life for battery-powered beacons.

Which are default settings of BlueBeacon beacons?

BlueBeacons with iBeacon technology are shipped with the following default values:
proximity UUID: ACFD065E-C3C0-11E3-9BBE-1A514932AC01;
major number: 0;
minor number: 0;
TX power: -8dBm;
advertising interval: 400msec (Mini, Maxi, Forte), 100msec (USB);
operating state: on, connectable ("non-connectable mode"), password protection disabled ("free-access mode").

How can I configure BlueBeacon devices?

The following BlueBeacons settings can be configured Over-the-Air (OTA): proximity-UUID, major and minor numbers, advertising interval, TX power, power-on state (on/off), connectivity state (connectable/non-connectable), password protection, password value. The settings may be changed through our free iOS app BlueBeacon Tool, available on Apple Store. In order to configure your beacon, you need to insert the battery. In the main view of BlueBeacon Tool, select Configure Beacons option: a list of nearby BlueBeacon devices is provided. For each beacon, it is provided model, serial number, settings (proximity-UUID, major, minor, TX power, advertising interval), battery status, received power. The beacons that can be configured are those connectable (those with the Bluetooth logo). By selecting the beacon, it is possible to access to Device Information, modify Device Settings, access Device Battery status and modify Device Security settings.

Why I need to configure beacon UUID?

Beacon UUID (or proximity UUID) is a property that should be unique to your company (or to each of your iBeacon-based apps). For example, for a store-chain or a museum application, the same UUID should be given to all your beacons. Our BlueBeacon are all pre-configured and shipped with our BlueUp UUID (namely, ACFD065E-C3C0-11E3-9BBE-1A514932AC01). You are free to leave it unchanged for your tests but, for commercial applications, we strongly suggest to use your own UUID. In order to generate your own unique UUID, it is suggested to use UUID generators that are available online. UUID modification can be easily managed via our BlueBeacon Tool iOS app. Additionally, consider that our BlueBeacon comes with a unique non-modifiable serial number, that you can use for identification of the device.

Can you provide beacons with pre-programmed custom UUID?

Yes. We can supply our customers with beacons, with a pre-programmed custom UUID (provided by the customer). This service may be useful for large-scale deployment, in order to avoid to individually set the UUID of each beacon. A little overcharge is required for this service.

How can I use major and minor numbers?

The suggested use of major and minor numbers is the following. Major is the property used to specify a related set of beacons: for example a single store of a store-chain. Minor the property used to specify is a single installation, i.e. a single beacon.

Is there a password protection to access beacon?

Yes. Password is composed by 8 decimal digits, with default password 00000000. By default, beacons are shipped with access password disabled ("free-access mode"). This option has been adopted to simplify beacon management during test and configuration. But, you can simply enable password access ("secure-access mode") through our iOS app BlueBeacon Tool.

How "secure-access mode" is managed?

If "secure-access mode" is enabled (by enabling password access), once you connect to the beacon, you have 30 seconds to insert password. If password is not correct or password is not inserted within 30 seconds, beacon automatically disconnect and starts advertising in "non-connectable mode" for 1 hour. During this period, beacon works properly but it is not connectable. After one hour, beacon again becomes connectable.

Can I modify the password?

Yes. Once you connect to the beacon in "secure-access mode" (by inserting the password), you can modify the password. The password must be an 8 decimal digits number, from 00000000 to 99999999. Custom password (using a different password for each beacon) is strongly recommended in real-world installations, particularly is beacons operates in "connectable mode".

I forgot the password: how can I access the beacon?

If you forget the password, contact us and provide beacon model and serial number. We will provide you a reset password. By inserting the reset password, the beacon will reset to default values.

Can I monitor the battery status in "non-connectable mode"?

Yes. Thanks to our proprietary solution, battery status is accessible also in "non-connectable mode". You can verify battery status in Configure Beacons view: beacons in "non-connectable mode" are identified by iBeacon logo.

How battery status is expressed?

Battery status is expressed in percentage, and represents an estimate of the residual capacity of the battery.

Configuration and settings (Eddystone version)

Where I can find APIs for your beacons with Eddystone format?

Google provides, not only Eddystone-format specifications, but also freeAPIs, for both iOS and Android operating systems. Additionally, free demo app are available, for iOS and Android.

How can I configure beacons with Eddystone format?

Configuration can be easily performed through our iOS app BlueBeacon Tool, freely available on AppStore and Google Play. Configure Beacons option must be selected.
Eddystone-URL parameters (both mandatory and optional) can be configured: lock state, lock/unlock, URI data, URI flags, advertised TX power levels, TX power mode, beacon period, reset. Also Eddystone-UID namespace and instance ID's can be configured.
Additionally, it is possible to:
- set the device in connectable / non-connectable state (non-connectable by default). The beacon starts in Configuration Mode (connectable) after power-on, and automatically enters Advertising Mode (not connectable by default) after 30 seconds;
- set the advertising scheme: URL-TLM advertising (default), UID-TLM advertising, URL-UID-TLM advertising. In all cases, URL-frames and/or UID-frames are broadcast for 10 seconds, while TLM-frame is broadcast for 1 second.;

What is the meaning of the Bluetooth icon color?

The color of the Bluetooth icon, under the image of the beacon, has the following meaning:
- blue: beacon in connectable state;
- grigio: beacon in non-connectable state.
To return the beacon in connectable mode, you must remove and replace the power supply.

Can BlueBeacon beacons broadcast all Eddystone format frames?

Yes. BlueBeacon beacons can be configured to work according to the following advertising schemes: URL-TLM scheme (default), UID-TLM scheme, URL-UID-TLM scheme. In all cases, URL-frames and/or UID-frames are broadcast for 10 seconds, while TLM-frame is broadcast for 1 second. The configuration can be set by writing the proper value on the 0x20b0 characteristic: 0x00 for URL-TLM scheme, 0x01 for UID-TLM scheme and 0x02 for URL-UID-TLM scheme.

Which are URL and UID default settings of BlueBeacon beacons?

BlueBeacons with Eddystone format are shipped with the following default values:
URL: http://www.blueupbeacons.com
namespace-ID: ACFD065E1A514932AC01;
instance-ID: a combination of model identifier and beacon unique serial number.

Is it possible modify URL and/or UID values?

Yes. Both URL and UID (both namespace-ID and instance-ID) are modifiable. Values are configurable with BlueBeacon Tool app for both iOS and Android. URL address configuration can be done also with the free app Physical Web, freely available for both iOS and Android.

What kind of data are contained in Eddystone-URL frame?

Eddystone-URL frame contains an URL (Uniform Resource Locator) using a compressed encoding format in order to fit more within the limited advertisement packet.

What kind of data are contained in Eddystone-UID frame?

Eddystone-UID frame broadcasts an opaque unique 16-byte beacon ID composed of a 10-byte namespace ID and a 6-byte instance ID. The namespace ID may be used to group a particular set of beacons, while the instance ID identifies individual devices in the group. The division of namespace and instance IDs may also be used to optimize BLE scanning strategies, e.g. by filtering only on the namespace.

What kind of data are contained in Eddystone-TLM frame?

Eddystone-TLM frame can theoretically broadcasts any kind of data from sensors or related to the operation of the beacon. The actual version of Eddystone-TLM frame (TLM version 0x00) contains the battery voltage (expressed in mV), the beacon temperature (expressed degrees Celsius), a first counter of advertisement frames of all types emitted by the beacon since power-up or reboot, and a second counter that represents time since beacon power-up or reboot (expressed in 0.1 seconds).

Which is the Eddystone beacon configuration for the Physical Web?

The Physical Web is built on top of beacons that broadcast over the Eddystone protocol, advertising the Eddystone-URL frame packet. Thus, it is required to configure BlueBeacon beacons according the default advertising scheme URL-TLM. You can find a tutorial on best practices for Eddystone beacons configuration (URL, TX power, advertising interval) and installation in the document Physical Web Getting Started Guide for Developers from Google.

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 USB
+4 dBm 100 m 100 m 110 m -
0 dBm 60 m 60 m 65 m 30 m
-8 dBm 25 m 25 m 30 m 12 m
-20 dBm 6 m 6 m 7 m 3 m
How long will the battery last?

Battery operating lifetime in BlueBeacon devices depends on: advertising period (main factor), transmitted RF power, operating temperature value and variation, operating in "non-connectable mode" or "connectable mode". The following tables provide a reference of expected operating life (expressed in months, with respect to TX power and advertising interval), for each of our battery-powered beacons, BlueBeacon Mini, Maxi and Forte. 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°C. In case of significantly different temperature conditions (and in particular, at lower temperatures, operating lifetime may be affected. Measurements are performed with beacons operating in "non-connectable mode". If beacons is set in "connectable mode", expected operating lifetime may be reduced up to 30% less..


BlueBeacon Mini (Battery: CR2450, nominal capacity: 600 mAh) - Expected lifetime in months
0.1 sec 0.3 sec 0.5 sec 0.7 sec 1.0 sec
0 dBm 4 11 16 20 25
-8 dBm 4.5 11.5 17 22 27
-20 dBm 5 12.5 19 24 29

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
0 dBm 17 44 63 77 92
-8 dBm 19 46 66 81 96
-20 dBm 21 51 71 86 101

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
0 dBm 10 27 41 52 64
-8 dBm 11 29 43 55 68
-20 dBm 12 32 47 59 72
How you can maximize the battery life?

To maximize the operating life of the batteries, we recommend the following strategies, consistent with the type of application:
1. set the beacon in "non-connectable mode". In this way, the current consumption is reduced by a percentage up to 30% with respect to the "connectable mode";
2. increase the advertising interval. 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);
3. reduce the transmission power. This parameter has a marginal impact on the operating life of the batteries, it can account for about 10%. The reduction in power naturally causes a reduction of the maximum communication distance.

Is battery replaceable?

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