Beacons to be used outdoors


#1

My name is Ms. Sobha Santosh Nair. I am writing to you from Dubai, UAE.

I have a business prospect who requires to identify his pallets amidst hoards and hoards of pallets shipped and dumped (maybe on top of each other) all wrapped identically in open spaces. His shipment basically will consist of IT & telecommunication equipment. These hoardings maybe in remote areas where telecommunication infrastructure MAY not be available.

I am thinking that your Estimote beacons might be applicable in this scenario, coupled with a mobile having an iOS app(or android based
application) to identify these beacons that maybe stuck on the pallets.

Kindly advise me on the following:-

  1.   Is this technology possible outdoors?
    
  2.   Will the beacons work if it is put on pallets containing IT
    

equipment?

  1.   Should the beacons be activated with the iOS app prior to shipping?
    
  2.   Do you have rugged beacons that can withstand the harsh shipping
    

ordeals, and still adhere to the pallets. Kindly give us a cost estimate.

  1.   What will be the read range?
    
  2.   What is the battery life?
    
  3.   Should there be a 3G/4G connection to make the app work, or is it
    

enough to switch on the mobile phone’s Bluetooth 4.0?

  1.   What is the proximity with which one can detect the beacon? Does it
    

show the distance (say in metres/cms) that you are close to the shipment?


#2

That’s a great use case, and beacons should be a great fit. You can assign unique identifiers to beacons placed on the pallets and map them to the payload in your backend—e.g., beacon X = pallet #123, beacon Y = pallet #456, etc. Much more convenient than QR codes, and doesn’t require any specialized equipment like RF tags, just a Bluetooth-enabled phone.

On to your questions:

Is this technology possible outdoors?

Yes, our beacons are waterproof and withstand a wide range of temperatures. Extreme conditions (mostly—high humidity) might impact the range of the beacon signal though. Extreme temperatures will decrease the battery life.

Will the beacons work if it is put on pallets containing IT equipment?

Yes, the only thing to keep in mind is, placing a beacon amidst a lot of objects, especially metal ones, can greatly reduce its range.

Should the beacons be activated with the iOS app prior to shipping?

No, the beacons are on as soon as they leave the factory. You might want to adjust their settings before placing them on the pallets though—bump the range, assign a unique identifier (becomes are shipped set to broadcast a random identifier), etc.

Do you have rugged beacons that can withstand the harsh shipping ordeals, and still adhere to the pallets. Kindly give us a cost estimate.

We ship our beacons in their silicone, water-proof enclosures, and a 3M tape to stick them to most surfaces. The only thing to watch out for would be for the payload not to crush the beacon—the silicone enclosure won’t withstand too much pressure. As for the pricing, I suggest you contact our business team at business@estimote.com, they’ll provide a quote.

What will be the read range?

When set to maximum broadcasting power, the range is about 50-70 meters, when unobstructed.

What is the battery life?

Out of the box, it’s ~ 3 years. Bumping the power would decrease it slightly, but you can also enable our energy saving modes, which will likely get the battery life back to ~ 3 years.

Should there be a 3G/4G connection to make the app work, or is it enough to switch on the mobile phone’s Bluetooth 4.0?

Bluetooth is enough.

What is the proximity with which one can detect the beacon? Does it show the distance (say in metres/cms) that you are close to the shipment?

Beacons are detectable within their entire broadcasting range (i.e., up to 50-70 m in ideal conditions). It’s possible to estimate the distance to a beacon at shorter ranges (I’d say, up to 20-30 m). The mean error is about +/- 20% (so e.g., at 20 m, the estimation can be off by 4 m, i.e., show either 16 or 24 m on average).


#3

Hi Sobha,

My name is Marta, I’m on the Business Team. If you would like a quotation, or have any additional questions, feel free to drop me a line at marta@estimote.com.

Thanks


#4

Hi Piotr

Thanks for the reply.
A few more questions please

  1. What may be the temperature range at which beacons work… it is very hot out here in the middle east. Will you be able to share a spec sheet for this please.

  2. When you mean by bumping, will you please be able to tell me the beacon’s lifetime if i can program the beacon to talk to me at say every 10 secs.

  3. Is there any app which can pinpoint me the direction of the beacon, and say give a beep as I am closing in on one. The reason I am asking is :you said that proximity detection is possible in a radius. It might be frustrating for the user in a realtime environment.
    Thanks again

Regards
Sobha


#5

hello Marta? any update?


#6

What may be the temperature range at which beacons work… it is very hot out here in the middle east. Will you be able to share a spec sheet for this please.

The PCB components we use should go up to 75 ℃. The battery we use are said to have an operating temp range of -20 ℃ to 70 ℃.

When you mean by bumping, will you please be able to tell me the beacon’s lifetime if i can program the beacon to talk to me at say every 10 secs.

The max advertising interval is 2 seconds. At 10 seconds, it would take a long time to detect the beacon, accounting for the packet loss. Assuming 2 sec interval, max broadcasting power and energy saving modes enabled, the battery life will be around 5 years.

Is there any app which can pinpoint me the direction of the beacon, and say give a beep as I am closing in on one. The reason I am asking is :you said that proximity detection is possible in a radius. It might be frustrating for the user in a realtime environment.

Beacons broadcast all around them, so unfortunately there’s no way to pinpoint the exact direction from which the signal is coming. In the most simple scenario, you can use our utility app (“Estimote,” available in the App Store and Google Play Store) to detect nearby beacons.


#7

Hi there
Thanks again
I was looking out for something like a beeper in a beacon whose sound will increase as I get nearer and nearer to it… any chance of such a modification?
regards
Sobha


#8

I’m afraid we don’t offer customization options for our hardware at this point.


#9

Hello)
We have bought a few of your beacons (25) and did some testing, developed a small android app that can detect the named beacon proximity at a range of 0-4 metres. As a user, I can add the beacons, on checking nearness /proximity, it shows the nearest beacon first, but the approximate distance keeps varying on every refresh, though i am not moving my position. Will it not show the correct distance /proximity every time I refresh? My use case is listed above, and still remains same, i was hoping to provide a solution whereby the user can at least search for his pallets in say a 4 metre radius among the hoards of shipments. But would’nt the distance be fixed?
Any tips?


#10

I go into more detail on why this happens in this post:

Long story short, these fluctuations are expected, and the distance estimates is something you need to take with a grain of salt—the average error is, as I mentioned before, about ± 20%.

If you only want to know what pallets are within 4 meters, you can tune the broadcasting power of the beacons down to -20 dBm. The average range of a beacon with this setting is about 3–5 meters, so you won’t even need the distance estimates—instead, you’ll be able to rely solely on the fact whether a beacon is or isn’t in range.


Using beacons outdoors to identify owner's pallets(mostly IT equipments) among hoardsof shipments
#11

Hello there
Thank you for your reply.
What is the default broadcasting power a beacon is set at when it is out from the factory?
Is that the maximum, and what is the approximate read range.

Since we have pallets with IT equipment i am not sure if we should reduce the broadcasting power to -20dBm, considering the signal interference.


#12

Default is -12 dBm, which IIRC is ~ 15 meters.

I think in your case, it’d be best to simply test in real-world environment. Set one beacon to -20, another to -16, put them both on the pallet, and use our Estimote app to check what’s the max range at which you can still see them on the radar/list.


#13

Thankyou sir.
One more question. Is it ok to use just one beacon to locate the position of the shipment outdoors. I can see it come up on my app.
The reason I am asking you is because in your videos on indoor beacon location Estimote says there should be atleast 4 beacons for it to function correctly, and I did not get the logic for that.

Any such prerequisites needed in this?

regards
Sobha


#14

You need 4 beacons (or more specifically, at least 1 beacon per wall) if you want to use our Indoor Location technology, which is about determining your (x,y) position inside a space with these beacons.

Since you only need a simple “what beacons are in range” (and to cross-reference that with the pallet’s payload), you don’t need Indoor Location, and so as low as 1 beacon is enough.