Using Indoor app to detect beacons inside a suitcase

Hi there,
I wonder if it would be possible to use the Indoor app along with 2-4 beacons to map/demarcate the inside area of a medium sized suitcase (68x44x26cm). Consequently, could my app be able to determine whether 4 beacons/stickers - placed on 4 items - are inside or outside this suitcase?
Many thanks

It’s not actually an Indoor Location use case (as you’re not trying to establish a position inside a space), but I can imagine some setup which achieves your goal.

Basically, it’s all about having some detector inside the suitcase, that would scan for the beacons/stickers in range, and relay scan results (i.e., found the stickers/beacons, or not) to your phone, likely over Bluetooth.

Two problems though:

a) The detector needs to run on batteries, so you’d need to carefully optimize the energy usage. Continuous scanning is energy-hungry, so maybe you would need to scan, e.g., for a few seconds every few minutes.

b) Even if you tune the beacons down to the minimum Tx power, it might happen that the detector will detect an item even if it’s outside the suitcase—e.g., a laptop lying right next to the suitcase on your desk.

All in all, that’s a fairly custom setup, so it’ll require some technical prowess and IoT hacking, but I can see this working!

Thanks for your reply! That sounds promising

Irt the problems:

a) I’ll try to use your suggestion to try to minimize power consumption. Is the bluetooth on your phone also regulated in that way to minimize power consumption?

b) Couple of questions: 1.Is there a way to shield off the suitcase for bluetooth signals in a fairly cheap way? 2.Or can I adjust detector read range accurately (centimeters)? 3. What minimum reach is achievable from your beacons, and how accurate is this? And 4.Can the stickers Tx power be decreased as well, or is this only possible for the beacons?

Many thanks!

Re: a), yes, Bluetooth on the phone is also not running non-stop; rather, it’s only being turned on when needed. Also, you charge your smartphone every day (: I guess were you to put a rechargeable battery into the suitcase’s receiver, you might be able to do continuous scanning, and just recharge the battery every now and then.

Re: b)

  1. Ha, yes, I guess you could pad the suitcase with some metallic material, or aluminum foil, essentially building yourself a small Faraday cage. But this won’t help during these brief moments when you open and close the suitcase.
  2. Definitely a good idea, yes. You could measure what’s the average signal strength of a beacon/sticker inside the suitcase and outside, and filter the scanning results based on that.
  3. For beacons, at the lowest Tx power, that’s ~ 1 m. We haven’t actually measured that for stickers yet.
  4. Yes, we released a new stickers firmware a few weeks ago which allows configuring stickers Tx power and advertising interval. We’re working on adding this to our Estimote app.