Beacon Technologies - PDF

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Beacon Technologies by Stephen Statler

Computers are bursting out of the metal boxes and machine rooms where they were born and are becoming embedded throughout the world in which we live. The communication technologies that enable what is called the Internet of Things extends their reach to appliances in our homes and the meters and valves that regulate the flow in our heating, power, and water systems. The outputs have evolved way beyond the original paper printouts we used. Now these machines engage us through the voice of Siri, virtual reality headsets, and massive digital displays. The inputs are just as diverse, from finger-sensing layers on tablets, cameras that can guess our mood, and a wide variety of technologies that are designed to track the location of people and things. These are described variously as “presence,” “proximity,” and “real-time location systems”. The ability for computer systems to know where objects are located is key to what is being described as “digital to physical convergence”. This is where computers and the real world become melded together.


The Bluetooth beacon has taken center stage in this location technology revolution. These devices, which can be the size of a guitar pick, are being sprinkled around buildings, hidden away out of sight. They allow mobile phones to understand their location indoors, something that was very hard to do previously. They enable proximity triggers that can cause apps on our phones to start to interact with the world around us in new ways.


At one level they are very simple devices, but rather like the transistor, which helped to fuel another technology revolution, the possibilities are endless. Their successful use requires the understanding of a large array of related subjects.


Who This Book Is For

A lot of articles have been written about these Bluetooth beacons, but they tend to focus on fragments of the picture. This book is intended to be comprehensive. It’s been written for anyone who wants to understand both the big picture and the details of what’s required to create new products and services. Hundreds of new companies are springing up to take advantage of the opportunities that beacons and other related technologies are creating. This book is written as a “survival guide” for anyone who has joined such a company or is thinking of starting one themselves.


Even for those of us who have spent a number of years working in this area, this guide to the beacosystem is proving to be useful. In the course of my consulting work for clients, I have found myself referring back to details of how the standards work and who some of the companies are in this space. In helping my clients get up to speed on beacon-enabled ad networks, it’s been helpful to refer them to a chapter that explains this new area.


It’s a big topic to understand thoroughly. In order to get the most out of the time you spend mastering this domain, we believe it’s important to have fun, and to share and explore some of the stories behind the development of the technology. We can’t promise as many laughs as Douglas Adams’ masterpiece The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but if you are fond of understanding some of the events and people behind the technology, if you enjoy getting to know some of the details that make you feel like an insider, this book is for you.


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