Wikipedia defines iBeacon as the trademark for an indoor positioning system that Apple, Inc. calls “a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS devices of their presence”. The beacons themselves are small, cheap Bluetooth transmitters. Apps installed on your iPhone listen for the signal transmitted by these beacons and respond accordingly when the phone detects them.
Imagine the fans at a stadium with their ticket and seat number automatically pulled up as they walk inside an arena. Imagine the passengers at an airport heading towards the ticket gate with an automatic notification popup that pulls up their mobile boarding pass ticket ready for inspection.
We believe that iBeacon technology is a big step forward towards better, cheaper indoor location services such as real time alerts, context-based rewards, mobile payments, etc.
A couple of months ago, we were working on a customer demo, which needed more than a few dozen beacons to be placed in a venue. Imagine simulating a big retail store like Walmart. There was no good way to visualize the beacons on a floor map. While we were in the middle of experimenting with the beacons, the cleaning crew moved some beacons. We had no way of finding out if the beacons were moved and where they were moved. We realized that we would not be able to identify a rogue beacon if someone brought that in. Our experience managing beacons on our floor inspired us to build a beacon management dashboard. We recently talked to a company that has a vision of deploying more than 250,000 beacons.
If you are deploying beacons, you should ask yourself if you have time to look for each one, identify which ones have been accidentally (and sometimes maliciously) moved to another location… Or simply unplugged… Or which new iBeacons have “magically” appeared on your premises.
The list goes on and on about management. Your IT staff has no time to babysit individual beacons. A vendor agnostic, simple yet comprehensive platform with asset tagging and beacon asset management is key.
Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences or CMX 10.0 provides a beacon management platform that automatically detects the location of beacons and places them on an indoor map. It allows the user to give a name to the beacon, identify the beacon as a known (vs. rogue) beacon, and alerts the user if a beacon goes missing.
What you see in the screenshot above is known beacons (Green), missing beacons (Red), misplaced beacons (Blue) and Rogue beacons (Yellow). You can drill down into a particular beacon and get its MAC address, UUID, Major, Minor, Manufacture ID, First detected time and last heard time.
We are working on some more cool things on the BLE front so stay tuned.
Tweet us @Cisco_Mobility if you’d like to learn more about our CMX products and solution.