The challenges of deploying and managing beacons

By now, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons.

BLE beacons are essentially small (radio + battery) sensors which periodically broadcast a small amount of uniquely identifying data as radio signals. These signals can be received and interpreted by compatible devices for different use-cases, such as indoor wayfinding, local triggered push notifications or even scavenger hunts.


Beaconhelper app 3

Once users get past the layer of permissions, beacons work silently in the background - delivering context-aware content, just when it’s needed. 

But even before reaching this stage, the logistical challenges of deploying and managing beacons outlined below should be considered and taken into account by both venues and developers. 

Deploying beacons

On-site beacon deployment comes with its own set of challenges, and is affected by a variety of factors:

1. Beacon signals are broadcasted as radio waves, meaning that they can be absorbed by walls or metal surfaces - even people. Optimal beacon placement ensures that interference is minimised and broadcasted signals are not severely obstructed. 

2. Wayfinding accuracy depends on the use-case. Do users want to know their relative position to artworks, or do they only care if they’re in a particular space or room? Beacon signals can be tuned depending on range and frequency requirements. Why is this important? Because the right broadcasting range can make all the difference between a standard and a great user experience (UX).

3. With large-scale deployments and venues with bigger spaces, it can become a long, tedious task to set-up and program each beacon manually especially when there are a large number of beacons to deploy. Encountering this very problem ourselves, we internally developed our own beacon manager app to simplify and significantly streamline the process.

Managing beacons

Building an app from the ground up for both iOS and Android isn’t a quick and easy task - let alone developing one that is configured to work seamlessly with beacons. This is where Beaconmaker comes in - we manage technical implementation details from the back-end and provide venues with a highly customisable white label app and web platform to manage their content and beacons. 

Beaconmaker’s CMS is a centralised, beacon-agnostic platform that provides an intuitive user interface for content and beacon management and a detailed breakdown of visitor analytics. The CMS is not only scalable but has the potential to be dynamic - giving managers and venues the freedom to customise the app to reflect ‘What’s On’, feature upcoming events and modify existing content. Content managers can also configure locally triggered or scheduled push notifications directly from the CMS.

A common issue with large-scale deployments is that venues have to manage over a hundred or even a thousand beacons spread over different locations. We’ve taken this into account (having been in this situation on more than one occasion) and developed the Beaconhelper manager app as a solution.

Beaconhelper

Beaconhelper is our internally-developed manager app designed to address the issues outlined above and make managing beacons overall so much easier.

Features include:

  • Locations of beacons can be visualised on a map
  • Photos can be taken of the physical space where each beacon is deployed
  • Retrieve battery health/information from beacons
  • Connect and modify beacon settings (i.e. UUID, major, minor, transmission frequency and transmission power)

We are in the final stages of refining and tweaking the manager app based on our own deployment experiences and learnings, and will launch the Beaconhelper app next month.

We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch by emailing us at team@beaconmaker.com if you’d like to request a demo of the Beaconhelper manager app or simply want to hear more about what we do.

Want to know how beacons can add value to your business? Click here to request a Beaconmaker Demo