SmartThings Community

How well do beacons work? (2018)

project_presence

(Gene Clark) #7

First of all I want you for taking the time out to help me.

Secondly I was thinking of using that and placing it my yard outdoors so it could literally be an arrival and departure sensor in my driveway. Thinking maybe I could use my iPhone as the receiver, but that’s my daily driver so does it need to be something dedicated to just being the receiver or can I use it for other stuff too? Lastly I do t know what to use for the app now that BeaconThings doesn’t work. There are these apps in the App Store from the company who manufactures that iBeacon called RadBeacon.


(Gene Clark) #8

Another question: could I use the following iBeacon and plug it into the USB port on my car stereo and have it so that anytime my iPhone connects to the iBeacon it’ll turn on my goodbye routine and maybe when it disconnects turn on my I’m back routine? Not sure of the latter but worth asking.


#9

It would be a start, but again, the IBeacon is only the transmitter. You would have to have a receding station app on your phone that knew what to do when the transmission was received.


(Gene Clark) #10

What app would you recommend?


(Gene Clark) #11

Ok. I finally bought an iBeacon and wondering how to get it into SmartThings when SmartThings doesn’t use Bluetooth. I’m trying to use a simulated iBeacon and plugged in the UUID information using that but not sure if it’s going to work.


#12

It’s the same process described in all the other Beacon threads in the forum.

  1. choose the Beacon hardware that you want to use and set it up

  2. choose a receiving station app ( or write your own) for the phone/tablet that you want to have recognize the beacon which can issue a “webhook,” typically an http “post”

  3. set that receiving station app on your phone/tablet so that whenever the beacon’s signal is recognized, the webhook is sent either to either the IFTTT webhooks channel or to a web services smartapp that you write for yourself. Most people who are not programmers just use the IFTTT webhooks channel.

So when the I beacon comes in range of your phone/tablet, the message gets sent to IFTTT, and that becomes the “if” in your IFTTT applet

So once you get this far, you have an event which recognizes when the IBeacon either goes in range or out of range.

Now choose the “that”

So the next question is what do you want to do for the “that” in your IFTTT applet? You are definitely going to use the SmartThings channel, but how are you going to use it?

You could just use it to trigger any single given smartthings – controlled device that shows up in the IFTTT SmartThings channel.

For example:

“If my phone comes in range of this particular Beacon, turn on the porch light.”

" if my phone goes out of range of this particular Beacon, lock the door."

Notice that it doesn’t matter whether it’s the phone that is moving or the beacon that is moving, an event is generated when they are close enough that the phone can detect the Beacon. That’s what the receiving station app is for.

If you want to use the Beacon like a more general presence device, then first create a virtual presence sensor that can be turned on and off like a switch. The following is a good one:

Authorize IFTTT To access that virtual device through the SmartThings IFTTT channel.

Then you can use turning on the virtual presence sensor as the “that” in your IFTTT applet.

“If this particular Beacon is detected {webhook received}, turn on the virtual presence sensor”

So from there it works like any other presence device in SmartThings.

If you are writing your own web services smartApp, it’s the same idea. Receive the webhook, then either run a single event or turn on a virtual presence sensor.

But you never need a virtual ibeacon. And you never need to detect the IBeacon directly from SmartThings. The communication is from that Ibeacon to the receiving station app on your phone, then from the receiving station app on your phone to the IFTTT Webhooks channel, which then triggers the IF in your IFTTT applet and so sends a request to smartthings.

Again, this is exactly the same process discussed in the other four existing IBeacon threads, I’ve just posted a summarized version here to make it a little clearer for less technical people. :sunglasses:


#13

I’m having trouble locating a receiving station app for iOS capable of web hooks. Surely at this point I wouldn’t need to write my own. I did stumble upon the ProximityEvents app on the App Store, which seems good except it hasn’t been updated in 3 years. Any other suggestions? Thanks!


#14

Most of them haven’t been updated in three years because that’s when both estimote and radius networks begin providing their SDKs and people just started writing their own. It’s not that difficult, but I do understand if you don’t want to do that.

BTrigger Is a very simple free app that another forum member recommended recently and I’m just starting to take a look at. As with the others, it hasn’t been updated for a while, but it seems to work fine.

I personally use a paid app, beecon+ from beaconsandwich , which is much more polished and that I like a lot, but I don’t recommend it anymore because the developer has moved on to other things and they no longer provide any support except for the FAQs on the website. If you’re willing to risk $10 on it and give it a try, you could see what you think. But again, no support at this time. It’s working for me, but I can’t guarantee it would work for anyone else as a new install.


#15

Have you found beacons with your phone as receiving station a good backup to your phone as SmartThings presence sensor or IFTTT geofence presence? I’m curious because it seems that your phone sleeping would be what prevents all of those approaches from working, suggesting they would all fail at the same time. Is that everyone’s experience or not?


#16

If you’re using an iPhone, you still get ibeacon detection. It’s only android that has the sleep problem.

In my case, I’m using them in reverse – – the people carry the beacons and we have two tablets set up as receiving stations/Home automation dashboards, one on each side of the house. I have an IBeacon on my wheelchair and my housemate has one in his backpack. So when the person comes within range of the tablet, it fires off the arrival event for that specific iBeacon. This works very well for us. :sunglasses:


(MacTechGenius) #17

Hi,

So from my understanding I don’t need a transmitter (since my iPhone can be the transmitter)? But I do need a receiver so my transmitters (i.e iPhone’s) can connect to it? Is this correct?
What kind of transmitter do you recommend?

I basically have 4 phones that I want to monitor (that come home/leave)…hopefully something more reliable compared to smartthings presence.


#18

It’s the other way around. You buy a small device called an I beacon and that is the transmitter.

Then you put an app on your phone or tablet, and that becomes the receiver.

So your phone knows when your phone has come within range of the IBeacon because the IBeacon is transmitting and the app on your phone receives that transmission.

Then it is up to the app on your phone to decide what to do about the fact that it is now within range of Beacon 123.

If the app can send a Webhook, then you can use that as the “if” in an IFTTT applet.


(MacTechGenius) #19

Do you recommend any transmitters and app for the phone?
Thanks


#20

Read this thread from the top, both are discussed. :sunglasses:


(MacTechGenius) #21

How reliable and secure is the system based on your experience?

I am guessing the range is not large enough to use at my house (5,000 sqft) but I have a small condo (650 sqf) with a Schlage lock at the door.

Currently, I enter a 6 digit code on the lock that unlocks the door (if in Away mode entering the code disarms the security). This is the setup I want:
If my condo is in away mode (door is locked) and I approach with my iPhone -> unlock the door and disarm security (switch to home mode).

Do you think this will be feasible? I only want the door to unlock when I am right in front of it (not at the condo parking garage).

Also, could this potentially be an issue when I am leaving (can I set a delay for like 5 minutes). When I leave the condo…I have an iris keypad that I use to arm security with a 30 second delay. Or can I rely on the ibeacon to automatically arms security when everyone leaves?

Thanks


(MacTechGenius) #22

@JDRoberts so got the RadBeacon and configured to communicate with SmartThing’s via IFTTT. I am using the Beecon+ app but it isn’t always working when the app is closed. I did some research and found that some people implemented this to use Apple Passbook or some alternative option? Is their a more reliable solution to this?

Thanks


(Drlungbarrow) #23

I know this thread is very old, but I was wondering if anyone may be able to assist with utilizing various iBeacons with the Beecon+ app.

I am attempting to use various iBeacons from Radius Networks. I am using the Dot as a mobile iBeacon (attached to person). I am using a stationary iPhone with Beecon+ as the receiving station. So when the mobile beacon comes into a specific range of receiving station it send IFTTT webhook to trigger Smartthings. However, due to the limitations on the exit range trigger only being when the beacon goes out of range I thought I would purchase the RadBeacon X4 (weatherproof iBeacon) and use the proximity of the mobile beacon to this ibeacon as a trigger (such as near) instead of having to use the exit ranges. However, I am not seeing how to complete this option within the Beecon+ application.

I was able to set the X4 as a region, but I do not see where I can set triggers for the mobile iBeacon coming into range (at specific distance) to this beacon to trigger IFTTT. Is this capability not possible or am I just overlooking something obvious?


#24

No beacon operates on distance. It’s always about signal strength.

The signal strength is measured by the receiving station app on either a phone or a tablet. Two beacons are not aware of each other in any way.

The usual example given is that the beacon is like a lighthouse. All it does is regularly transmit a little message, like the light from the lighthouse, saying “here I am” and giving the beacon’s ID.

It is up to the passing ships (receiving station app on the phone) to recognize the beacon and then decide what it wants to do about it.

So if I understand your question, that’s just not how beacons operate. Each beacon sends out its ID code, and the receiving station app decides what to do based on which ID codes it recognizes as being in range of itself (the phone). The beacon itself doesn’t receive or process any messages.


(Drlungbarrow) #25

That makes sense. So, the only way people are able to perform micro locations utilizing beacons is by carrying a moving receiver (i.e. cell phone)?

Edit:

Or by having multiple receiving stations with different distance triggers? What are the options when it comes to receiving stations? I know of the various applications that have been recommended, I assume there is no other option beyond using an application.

Ultimately, I am attempting to create a micro-location system to determine when my dog and cat are outside. After reading through this forum and your other micro-location information guides. I thought beacons would be the best solution as they could both wear a ibeacon on their collars. I originally set up a receiving station on an old iphone and used the beecon+ app. I can get the IFTTT webhooks to work as triggers, but the inherent weakness in this method is the exit trigger being “out of range” and not a customizable selection as it is for the enter range. I successfully got the out of range to trigger at the threshold for my back door by adjusting the beacons transmit power; however, this would then cause the trigger to fire when he would go upstairs or downstairs (one floor above of below my receiving station). Triggers would fire due to the signal now traveling through the floor etc.

I do not think I can get the ranges small enough to trigger by placing a second receiver at the back door while having it not falsely trigger while my dog is still in the house (back door is a sliding door in the kitchen close to where his food and water bowls are kept).

Any ideas jump out at you? Or am I just not able to create something like this due to the limitations with the current technology for micro location?


#26

Have you read the following thread? It covers most of the available options.