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How virtualising BLE Beacons will change the indoor mobile experience

Bob Friday | April 3, 2017
Unsupervised machine learning in the cloud eliminates site surveys and ensures consistent user experience across mobile devices and space.

These beacon points create a flashlight-like beam with more energy pushed in front of the directional antenna than out the back or to the sides. The energy forms power distribution much like an ellipse. A probability weight is then assigned to each point in the location map. The further the expected signal strength from the measured signal strength, the lower the probability the device is at that location. By combining and then analyzing probability surfaces for every directional beam, the most likely location of a device is determined with exceptional accuracy.

Unsupervised machine learning in the cloud eliminates site surveys and ensures consistent user experience across mobile devices and space; the RF environment is constantly learned in real time. RF models (e.g. path loss formulas) are constantly updated in accordance with environmental changes, eliminating the need for site surveys and manual calibration while maximizing BLE performance.

With BLE broadcast functions moved into Access/Beacon Points and location services handled in the cloud, there is no longer a need for physical BLE beacons. Virtual beacons can be added and moved anywhere on a floor using a software UI or programmable workflows. Power and interval settings can be configured and adjusted remotely (see figure below). In addition, different organizations can manage and operate their own beacons in the same venue, with an unlimited number of beacons available for deployment.

Virtual beacon

 Power and interval settings for virtual beacons can be configured and adjusted remotely. 

In summary, virtual beacons offer many advantages over physical beacons, which include:

  • No batteries.
  • Beacons are easy to setup and move.
  • No risk of loss or theft or movement from a beacon’s original position.
  • Building aesthetics are not affected by the deployment of physical devices.
  • Virtual beacons are stackable so different applications and tenants can get different messages.
  • No site surveys or ongoing calibration required.

Do virtual beacons eliminate the need entirely for physical BLE beacons? While this is possible in theory, physical beacons still make sense in areas that are hard to reach from traditional WLAN access points. For example, rooms with high ceilings (like an atrium) still benefit form physical beacons, as do outdoor facilities or very high density environments that require accuracy within one to three meters.

BLE has the ability to deliver amazing new indoor location-based experiences that are on par with outdoor GPS. By converging it with Wi-Fi and using machine learning in the cloud to optimize location performance, BLE is easier than ever to deploy. In addition, beacons can now be virtualized for simple moves, adds and changes with no costly site surveys or manual calibration.

The world is ready for new indoor location experiences. With virtual BLE, mass market adoption is just a few clicks away.


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