Sure the geofence triggering is kinda cool, but I've yet to see a practical use of it. Seems like "interactive museum tour" is the thing everyone keeps coming back to. If this is what Apple wanted to do with iBeacons, they would be selling them for a couple bucks in Apple Stores. But iBeacons aren't a consumer device. I think much more likely to see "iBeacon ready" hardware sold by Apple and other 3rd parties.
I think iBeacon protocol will become part of other devices, as a way to add proximity detection for the iPhone/apps that could interact with that device.
How about a DSLR camera that I can pair with by touching my iPhone to it? Creating ad-hoc multi-peer networks between devices by being near them. Play a game on your phone on a nearby TV without connecting to same WiFi. Or wearables knowing which other wearables are nearby. This kind of natural, "magical" interaction is very Apple.
Isn't it what NFC is for ? Except for Apple stubbornly deciding not to add it to the iPhone ?
I really love the USB powered model, especially for something like PunchClock. No batteries means no dead batteries.
We also released a number of open source projects that can help with projects like this. Including the ibeacon cli (if you are on a mac just `brew install ibeacon`), or if you want more than iOS check out the Android iBeacon Library (https://github.com/RadiusNetworks/android-ibeacon-service).
Sorry for the shameless plug!
My experience so far has been pretty good using their SDK (which works on iOS and Android) and their admin web interface, and the Gimbal devices themselves are not that expensive.
I'd be interested to hear the experiences of others using Gimbal..
* "ok" price
* horrible customer communication
* in reality to want to sell you their services and not the iBeacons.
* not configurable (proximity id, major, minor)
* really long shipping time to europe (4 weeks)
* nice form factor (small)
* not really iBeacon compatible. They say you can flash their beacons to make them compatible, but i haven't found out how since their support is not responding.
* good price
* great support
* major, minor configurable. proximity id not
* form factor kinda bulky
* they seem to be able to deliver huge amount of beacons
* great price
* nice form factor (same as stickNFind)
* fully configurable (proximity id, major, minor)
* the company is relatively young
Can't say anything about the battery life yet, but the batteries were replaceable in each case.
(Disclaimer : I work with the organization.)
If you find one let me know.
I suppose I could write some of my findings up but I've been a bit busy...
Decoding the iBeacon packets is quite easy, but you need a device that supports BLE. Currently there are only a handful of Android devices that support it.
I've always wondered what iBeacon offers, in most practical implementations, that latent wifi doesn't? If I wanted to do something similar on an Android device, for the purposes of conversation, I would register for the SCAN_RESULTS_AVAILABLE_ACTION event, and watch for the appearance or disappearance of SSID of APs that are interesting, and of course there are lots of utilities and tools that do exactly this (e.g. when I near home control these settings, etc). Ping a web service with updates, etc.
SSIDs can of course be cloned, just as iBeacons can. Neither are truths that they are what they say they are.
Technological answer: iBeacons allow more selectivity and precision. You can be confident that a visible iBeacon is within 30ft or so, rather than 300+ft for WiFi, and with a little calibration you can measure the distance reasonably well. WiFi can tell you "the user is in [a section of] the building", while iBeacons can tell you "the user is standing in front of exhibit X".
The advantage of iBeacons, of course, is that you can do this cheaply.
Doesn't BLE have a range of some 150 feet+? That doesn't differ much from the range of 802.11g. Both of them have amplitude that you can measure, from which you could guess at distance (especially if you're near the same source multiple times).
Of course a store isn't going to set up a bunch of APs to notify you when you're near a display, but aside from channel overlap and ugliness technically they could. And outside of the walled garden that you mentioned, it would be just as suitable for the role it filled in this application.
'iBeacon' is great for very general and very localized location finding, but you're going to have a very hard time triangulating your location very precisely in say a department store.
Now I'm not a radio engineer, it may be that it was too many beacons for the area or the general wireless soup was high but it could sometimes take 20-30 seconds to see that beacon as immediate with your phone sitting smack dab on it. Sometimes 1sec. (iOS7.0 on both ipod touch 5thgen and iphone 5 devices) . Perhaps the filtering they use just needs to be tweaked a bit.