2019: Beacons + Android + SmartThings (or IFTTT) for Presence?

Since google decided to cripple background scanning in order to protect phone battery life, a lot of the original ibeacon or Eddystone android apps no longer work because they fail to detect the beacon reliably.

That includes the following community project:

Is anyone using beacons with Android successfully for SmartThings presence in December 2018/2019 , and if so, how?

I use IBeacons for micro-location at my house, as I’ve mentioned previously, but I am using iOS devices so it’s much easier.

I get asked the question about android all the time, but I don’t have a good answer now.

Here is my most recent answer which has several links to 2018 articles, but nothing which really solves this particular use case:

So if anybody is using them successfully with android devices for presence or microlocation, could you let us know the details? :sunglasses:

@joshua_lyon @shawneric @obycode

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Thanks @JDRoberts. This has been difficult for me for several years now. I’ve had these estimote beacons forever, about six of them, but they’ve been useless to me as I’m not a developer and no one has made an app for it in years. There was one that was compatible with tasker, but it no longer works. :frowning:

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Also, for those unfamiliar with the use case we are talking about, typically it’s when someone wants to set a detection range to a much smaller area than phone-based geopresence.

In my case I run into what I call the “bus stop” problem. .

I use a wheelchair, And it can take the Bus driver several minutes to get me unloaded from the bus. I don’t want things to start happening at my house while I’m still on board.

So I use an iBeacon to create a detection range of just a few feet, the length of the wheelchair ramp at my front door. That way my IOT actions don’t start until I get to the base of the ramp.

Other people are looking for other microlocation options, such as actions to be triggered just when they are downstairs, but not upstairs. It’s a little tricky with beacons since the signal goes through walls and ceilings, but you can usually adjust the detection area small enough to get you just as you walk through the door. Or just when you’re sitting on the couch.

And still others are looking for two factor authentication in presence, adding beacons to their phone presence for greater reliability.

Like I said, I know how to do any of this with an iOS device, but android is trickier. So I’m hoping some of the experts will have practical solutions for those with android devices looking for the same use cases. :sunglasses:

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I am trying to see if a Bluetooth beacon could be used as a regular presence sensor (not microlocation).
I have an “always-on” Android phone at home. If I get something like this or this, which seem to support Eddystone, will I be able to use tasker to determine if the beacon is home or not, and then use IFTTT (or something else? What?) to flip a virtual presence switch (home/away)?
I am trying to detect presence of a car, and the SmartThings presence fob has been completely ineffective. even though the car is parked less than 30ft from the hub the fob keeps falling in and out constantly, and the battery is draining at an astonishing rate.

I had the same issue so I went the route of hacking up the sensor to connect it to AA batteries using a battery holder, and the reliability is now incredibly better.

I have two cars set up this way, and one of them seems to still “disappear” every now and then, but my understanding is that this could be related to the batteries starting to go, so I might switch them out and see if that improves. Still, it’s significantly more reliable than before.

I’ve been handling the hiccups with a Webcore piston. I don’t consider a car “gone” until the sensor doesn’t report for a couple of minutes, which takes care of the problem of it leaving and coming back in quick succession.

So, I modded the sensor with 2 AA batteries, but, for some reason it is still incredibly unreliable. Presence is not detected. My car has been sitting in the driveway for a couple of hours, and it still shows as the sensor not present. So, if anyone has any thoughts on being able to do presence with Bluetooth beacons, i’d greatly appreciate it.

What does the log show for the device?

My devices are still behaving relatively well, but I can see that one of them is 2.7V even though it’s reporting 100% battery. My guess is that at some point when this starts to drop I’ll start seeing more reliability issues with the reporting.

[device ID]  2:20:28 PM: debug Creating presence event: Arrival Sensor Ford presence is present
[device ID]  2:20:11 PM: debug Sensor checked in 2.704 seconds ago
[device ID]  2:20:08 PM: debug Creating battery event for voltage=2.7V: Arrival Sensor Ford battery is 100%
[device ID]  2:20:08 PM: debug Creating presence event: Arrival Sensor Ford presence is present

[device ID]  2:20:52 PM: debug Creating battery event for voltage=2.8V: Arrival Sensor BMW battery is 100%
[device ID]  2:20:52 PM: debug Creating presence event: Arrival Sensor BMW presence is present
[device ID]  2:20:50 PM: debug Sensor checked in 17.355 seconds ago
[device ID]  2:20:32 PM: debug Creating battery event for voltage=2.8V: Arrival Sensor BMW battery is 100%
[device ID]  2:20:32 PM: debug Creating presence event: Arrival Sensor BMW presence is present
[device ID]  2:20:12 PM: debug Creating battery event for voltage=2.8V: Arrival Sensor BMW battery is 100%
[device ID]  2:20:12 PM: debug Creating presence event: Arrival Sensor BMW presence is present

Same here. I updated both of my presence sensors with the battery mod and it worked fine for first few months. Lately both of them are offline for most of the time. If I restart the hub, it helps for a day or so but after that they pretty much offline. for me, they are only good for arrival. For departure, I have stopped relying on it.

The device log shows nothing out of the ordinary (battery at 100%, etc.). I think the problem is that being in the glove compartment of a car in the driveway, only about 15 feet from the hub is too far for it to work reliably. That’s why I am trying to see if using Eddystone beacon would work since they have better range.

Well if the device shows in the log as reporting frequently then yeah, something is up.

The range shouldn’t have much to do with it but you can try to mitigate that with repeaters. I have plug-in repeaters all over the place in addition to bulbs, and although sometimes there’s a hiccup, the sensors report fairly consistently now.

Looking at my setup, the hub is a room about 40 feet away from the room above the garage (my house is about 3800 square feet), but I can count maybe 5-6 bulbs or plug-in repeaters between here and there.

Just to clarify, when the device is “not present” then the log doesn’t show anything. When the hub sees it, that’s when the log seems normal (regular checking in and battery reporting).
I have considered putting a repeater, but there isn’t a closer place to put one in. The hub is literally a few feet from the front door and the car is in the driveway, just outside.

It’s definitely not the location. I just put the sensor right next to the hub. It’s been 10 minutes and it still shows as away, with intermittent changes:

So, might just buy a beacon and try to figure out how to use it. I understand that I can trigger a presence once the beacon appears and an android gets a notification. My question is, will an android raise a notification when a beacon departs (no longer connected)?

Tagging @joshua_lyon

It’s been several years since I played with Beacons, but I looked back at one of my old blog posts and it looks like Tasker was able to detect both the presence and lack of presence (eg. connecting and disconnecting).


Depending on your desired goal, the connecting/disconnecting might be enough for you or you might want to add some logic that the sensor has to be disconnected for a certain period of time (or some other conditions) that way if the sensor just temporarily loses connectivity it doesn’t trigger some undesired action in your home.

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@JDRoberts - man your name pops up here so often. You are a great contributor so thank you in advance.

Like you I’m an apple or IOS user. I’m looking to add iBeacon for micro location and presence. However, I’m looking at the best and easiest place to start. I’m not a coder or developer. So looking for the simplest solution to integrate an iBeacon to ST.

My no1 scenario would be, ability to detect both me and the wife as we arrive home from work. To set location mode in ST (which is already setup and working in Webcore- currently with key fob sensors yuk).

The second, would be ability to detect we are in the house or inside the outside office. I think the distance here would be a friend with iBeacon technology.

Any advise would be so helpful. Thanks JD

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What country are you in? :sunglasses:

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UK. :star_struck: … thanks

This thread is specifically about android, so you should start a new one if you want to talk about iOS. In the US, the easiest iBeacon apps that I am aware of that can currently work with Ifttt are Geofency and pushcut. Both require a license fee. I don’t know if they’re available in the UK, however. But again we should take this to a different thread. :sunglasses:

So i live in the same building were i work, in different floors, so the ST geo presence don´t really know when me or my wife are at home/work because i´m in the same location range…i was thinking about the “ST arrival sensor” to double check if im home or not. Do you guys know any other working option? I have an iPhone btw. Thanks!

Good question, but This thread is for android iBeacon solutions, iPhone discussion is off topic here, as is discussion of the arrival sensor.

Have you had a chance to look at the FAQ yet?

FAQ: The Many Ways of Detecting Presence (2020)

Also, the available solutions will vary somewhat by region. If I recall correctly, you posted in another thread that you are in Europe. So you might find the following thread of interest:

Beacons+iOS+SmartThings (UK) presence (2020)

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