Beacons are small devices that are designed to transmit Bluetooth signals at intervals. These Bluetooth signals are transmitted in a certain format, which is a communication protocol that describes both the string of characters and numbers that actually make up the signal. Currently, beacons are mostly using two protocols – iBeacon and Eddystone. These are the most common protocols available today.
iBeacon profile is a communication protocol developed by Apple based on Bluetooth Smart technology. As a developer, iBeacon allows you to create mobile apps that are aware of location context that beacons provide. Currently, it is the most widely used communication protocol mainly because apart from the fact that it was the first one in the market, it also has deep integrations with the mobile OS. Unfortunately, the iBeacon is officially supported by iOS devices only. Yes, it is true that the protocol works on other mobile operating systems. However, it’s more effective in the environment that it was originally designed for – iPhones and iPads.
How it works
A beacon using an iBeacon profile contains comprises of a combination of letters and numbers that have been divided into specific groups. Since every code is unique to a beacon, it therefore means that an app can only take action after recognizing that a beacon is on the list of those it is integrated with. When a mobile application recognizes and detects a beacon, the app will trigger desired action such as log something on the phone, push notification to a home screen, and connect to a server.
Eddystone is an open Bluetooth 4.0 protocol developed by Google and its specification is available for everyone. Eddystone is an open communication protocol that has official support for both for both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android While Eddystone works more or less the same as iBeacon, the main difference is that the former has extended functionality. Eddystone is an open communication protocol that exists as three different types of protocols – Eddystone-URL, Edystone-UID and Eddystone-TLM.
Much of how Edystone-UID works is more or less the same as iBeacon does. Precisely, UID transmits a short code on a regular interval. On the other hand, Eddystone-URL transmits a URL that you can view provided you have your smartphone, and it does not require you to install the app. Eddystone-TLM is a type of protocol that broadcasts some telemetry data about all attached sensors and about the status of the beacon itself.