Is iBeacon OpenSource

Eddystone: Google introduces iBeacon competitors

With Eddystone, Google has presented a competitor for Apple's iBeacon. Beacons are devices that send specific information to end devices such as smartphones via Bluetooth. The beacons are automatically recognized by Bluetooth smart devices.

  1. ALPMA through R. B. Personnel & Management Consulting, Rott am Inn
  2. Technical University of Munich, Garching

The range is limited due to the Bluetooth connection used. The technology is intended for store owners, for example, who can use this to provide information about offers to passing customers. Other scenarios are menus in a restaurant sent to a smartphone or information about timetables at a bus stop.

Eddystone is cross-platform

Unlike Apple's iBeacon system, the new Eddystone standard is cross-platform and, according to Google, supports every platform that supports Bluetooth LE beacons in addition to Android and iOS. The source code is available on Github under an Apache 2.0 open source license.

Thanks to so-called ephemeral identifiers (EIDs), the connections should be secure. The beacon signal itself is public, but the information exchanged is secured by the EIDs. Only authorized clients can decrypt the EIDs. Google still wants to explain exactly how the process works.

Google provides two APIs for developers: The Nearby API is intended for Android and iOS and should enable developers to let their apps communicate with nearby beacons. The Proximity Beacon API, on the other hand, links the data to be sent to a location where the user receives the information without a physical beacon being available at the location. The data is stored in the cloud.

Software update brings compatibility

Manufacturers of beacons should be able to make existing devices Eddystone-compatible with a software update. In addition, Google has already been able to win some hardware partners who will produce Eddystone beacons. The beacons themselves can also be monitored with Eddystone: for example, battery levels or a change in position can be monitored remotely.

In the future, Google also wants to align its own apps to Eddystone beacons. For example, beacon-based local traffic information for Portland is already available for Google Maps; it is possible that Google will introduce this in other cities as well. Google Now will soon use beacon technology to prioritize the cards displayed.