Ever since we launched Indoor Location, we’ve received lots of questions from you, our loyal clients and developers. You contacted us with some fantastic use cases, many of which were very successful. Good job, everyone! Regardless of what that was, you had to map the space out first, no exceptions. So far it involved either wandering around the spaces and doing the measurements yourself or creating the floor plan with our SDK. Those days might be over for some of you.
Although approaching beacons one by one might be quite a fun thing to do, and we could all stand to get some more exercise in, we wondered if we can make the whole process smoother that’s how Location Beacons with UWB were born.
They include an automapping feature, which allows beacons to communicate with one another and map the spaces quickly. This effectively saves you a lot of time which you can then use to enhance the visitors’ experience. You want your positioning to be as precise as possible and with UWB beacons, the floor plan will be a faithful reflection of your actual space and where the beacons are installed (down to a few inches!).
So let’s quickly go through some of the most common topics involving Indoor Location. There’s nothing worse than getting excited about a new product, only to realize it won’t be the right fit for you. We want to be very transparent with what can and can’t be done with our technology. So if there’s anything troubling you, feel free to post below and we’ll jump right in!
What is Estimote Indoor Location?
Estimote Indoor Location is software for the positioning of people and objects down to a few meters. With the Indoor Location app and Indoor Location SDK, developers can easily set up interactive locations and incorporate them into apps. Those interactive locations can then be used to give customers a truly personalized experience, to enrich their visits and offer products or services suitable for their current location. When a GPS signal gets lost in indoor spaces, that’s when Indoor Location steps in!
How do I get started?
First of all, get one set of Location Beacons with UWB and an iOS device as well as find a small space to test the beacons first. Once they arrive, get the Estimote Indoor Location App from the App Store and place them on the walls at your eye-level, according to the app’s instructions. You’re done for now, grab a coffee and wait till the beacons create a detailed floor plan of your space to the cloud. You’re now ready to start developing. If you’re planning a larger deployment, we’ll be launching our Deployment App soon as well to help you utilize the automapping feature.
UWB Beacons will automatically create a floor plan for you with an inch-level precision, but if you already have 4 or more non-UWB Location Beacons lying around somewhere, you can use them for Indoor Location too. The very same Estimote Indoor Location app will help you create a rough map of a small space to test in. If you’re planning a larger deployment, we recommend creating locations with our SDK for the best accuracy.
Can I use Proximity Beacons or Stickers to map the spaces?
Unfortunately, no. Only Location Beacons and Location Beacons with UWB are capable of mapping locations in Indoor Location. You can, however, use other devices to enhance your user’s experience by offering proximity notifications or ability to “track objects“. For more details on what Proximity and Locations can do, please check this article.
What’s the difference between Location Beacons and Location Beacons with UWB?
Location Beacons with UWB are the latest iteration of our most popular beacons. They feature the very same features and specifications as Location beacons, but on top of that they allow for beacons to very precisely measure distances between each other and use this info to automatically create a detailed floor plan, saving you a lot of time! You’ll see the difference, especially in large spaces where instead of spending several days coding your space, you’ll simply place the beacons on the walls and let them do the work for you. You can find some more details about Automapping in this article and in the video below:
We ship Location Beacons in development kits of 3 for $99, while Location Beacons with UWB are currently available for pre-order at $159 for a devkit of 4.
Is Indoor Location available for iOS and Android?
For now (Spring 2017), Indoor Location SDK is available for iOS mobile devices only. An Android version is definitely on our roadmap, and we’ll proceed to develop it.
The main reason why it wasn’t developed simultaneously for both platforms is that every Android device is different, and they use different Bluetooth antennas. Indoor Location is based on complex algorithms that take into account the antenna’s position, quality, and orientation. There are also differences in Bluetooth support across all the devices and versions of Android. It takes a lot of time to develop such a complex tool like Indoor Location SDK for hundreds of popular devices running Android. That’s why in the beginning, we focused on an iOS environment.
Our Proximity SDK is, however, available for both platforms. It means you can use many of the very similar features also on Android. You can develop fantastic Android apps capable of detecting where beacons and stickers are and have your app act on that knowledge, e.g. push content to users based on their location or record the history of their visits and react to this.
Do you provide SDK for Indoor Location?
Yes, it’s available for iOS and you can check it out on our GitHub.
How many beacons do I need?
For small spaces you will need at least 2 development kits (6 beacons) to get started, or 1 UWB kit. The exact amount of beacons you will need depends on the size of the space but also factors such as positions of the walls, furniture, number of people and BLE devices in the space etc. Please see the table below for the approximate area you’ll be able to cover. If you need more detailed estimation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time.
Number of beacons Area (m2) Area (ft2) 1 devkit of Location Beacons with UWB 4 60 645 2 devkits of Location Beacons 6 100 1,075 1 bulk bag of Location Beacons 25 300-400 3,230-4,305 2 bulk bags of Location Beacons 50 600-800 6,460-8,610
How accurate is Indoor Location?
The exact precision will depend on a lot of factors, such as the shape and size of your space, furniture, number of people and Bluetooth-enabled devices and so on. On average though, you should be able to get the precision down to 2 meters (6,5 feet) which will work great for most of deployments. This will allow you to easily detect when visitors approach specific locations and effectively guide them to their (or your! ;-)) points of interest. You’ll be also able to effectively analyze user traffic and make informed decisions based on it.
If you’re not sure about the accuracy needed in your particular use case, we recommend that you get 2 devkits and test it for yourself. You’ll be surprised by how much you can achieve!
Do you have any use cases of Indoor Location?
Absolutely. Here are several use cases we’ve documented on our blog:
Are there any fees associated with using Indoor Location?
If you’re using anywhere up to 20 devices, you can use all the features of our Cloud including Indoor Location, without any fees, forever. This includes analytics of your beacons’ usage as well as the ability to view your floor plans in the Cloud. If you have more than 20 devices, either beacons or Stickers, we will set you up with one of our paid plans to continue using Indoor Location, as well as take advantage of all the other features such as Fleet Management, Here & Now, and Analytics.
How can Indoor Location be used in airports?
Indoor Location can be used to help your customers navigate around the airports. You could allow them to scan their boarding pass, and the app would determine their current position, guiding them straight to the gate. You could also mark useful places on their in-app map, such as toilets, duty-free stores, or information points. Using beacons, you could also display custom notifications as they pass by shops or restaurants, offering them discounts or the daily special.
How can Indoor Location be used in museums?
If you were to integrate Indoor Location into a museum’s app, you could help visitors easily navigate around the whole venue. It will be most useful in large museums where you have to cross multiple rooms and corridors to find a particular piece of art or exhibit. With an app utilizing integrated Indoor Location, visitors can just type the name of a painting or sculpture and the app will display the best way to get there, working just like GPS but with more precision, and indoors! Just like the case of airports, you could also include a quick way to locate most common utilities, such as toilets or cash desks. You could also analyze user movements, and build new exhibitions based on their footprints and popular routes.
How can Indoor Location be used in stores and shopping malls?
Indoor Location should be particularly helpful in large stores and shopping malls, where visitors often get lost or confused about which department offers a specific product. With an app using Indoor Location, they could simply type the product name or type, and starting from their location, the app would guide them quickly to the specific place. It could also display promotions from other stores as they pass by. Through your Cloud account, you could also analyze the most frequently visited places, and plan your visual merchandising around actual statistical data.
Can I track where users of my app are at any given moment?
Yes, it can be implemented into your app. Keep in mind, though, that user will have to specifically allow for his/her location to be shared with you in order for you to see their location in real time and analyze the traffic. We don’t recommend tracking users’ location in the background too as it will require additional permissions and probably won’t bring any value to users.
Do you offer help with the deployment of beacons?
We offer support over email as you build your prototype or start a deployment. If you’re planning a large deployment with hundreds of beacons, we will certainly offer dedicated support and may even fly out to help you successfully deploy beacons… we have historically done this for some of our enterprise level clients. We’re also happy to analyze any use cases you can think of, simply let us know and one of our team members will jump right in!
Will Indoor Location also work in outdoor use cases?
To work properly, Indoor Location requires beacons to be placed on flat walls, and was built with indoor spaces in mind. Beacons are splashproof but not waterproof, so they could be damaged during rainfall or in extreme temperatures. That’s why we recommend using them indoor only for the best experience.
I want to track users wearing custom wristbands in a specific location, is it possible with Indoor Location?
Although we don’t produce wristbands of any kind, anything is possible to develop! We’re here to guide you towards possibilities, partners, and even potential developers, and offer the tools to make it all happen. You may have read about a collaborative project sponsored by RedBull, who teamed up with a popular fashion designer to create wristbands using PCBs from our Stickers. They were then distributed among hundreds of attendants and allowed for some pretty amazing things to be discovered. Check this story on our blog.