Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and the iBeacons have recently gained large interest for enabling various proximity-based application services. Given the ubiquitously deployed nature of Bluetooth devices including mobile smartphones, using BLE and iBeacon technologies seemed to be a promising future to come. This work started off with the belief that this was true: iBeacons could provide us with the accuracy in proximity and distance estimation to enable and simplify the development of many previously difficult applications. However, our empirical studies with three different iBeacon devices from various vendors and two types of smartphone platforms prove that this is not the case. Signal strength readings vary significantly over different iBeacon vendors, mobile platforms, environmental or deployment factors, and usage scenarios. This variability in signal strength naturally complicates the process of extracting an accurate location/proximity estimation in real environments. Our lessons on the limitations of iBeacon technique lead us to design a simple class attendance checking application by performing a simple form of geometric adjustments to compensate for the natural variations in beacon signal strength readings. We believe that the negative observations made in this work can provide future researchers with a reference on how well of a performance to expect from iBeacon devices as they enter their system design phases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Science Applications
- Computer Networks and Communications