At the Microsoft Build Tour in Vienna, I had the opportunity to present an enhanced version of the Bluetooth Beacon talk. With the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft released a massive update to the Bluetooth LE capabilities of the OS. This finally allows developers to use the full potential of modern Bluetooth scenarios, including sensors, wearables and beacons.
At Build 2017, Microsoft released three new sessions explaining the capabilities of the new APIs:
With the first Bluetooth 5 devices just released (first and foremost the Samsung Galaxy S8), Bluetooth Beacons like Apple iBeacon and Eddystone by Google gain a lot of potential. Increased range means future beacons will cover a much larger area, without increased power consumption. With the payload increase of beacon advertisement frames from 31 bytes to 255 bytes, the amount of information transmitted by beacons can substantially increase.
In my session about Bluetooth Beacons at the Mobile Developer After-Work #14: Creating Immersive Environments, I provided a short update about the latest news. Unfortunately, recording of the live session at the event failed. Therefore, I’ve re-recorded it – you will miss the live experience, but I did have a little more time for more detailed explanations of some important facts, so it’s well worth watching again even if you have been at the #mdaw14 Event!
According to ABI research, 8.2 million Bluetooth Beacons have been shipped. In 2021, the yearly shipments will have increased to an astonishing number of 565 million beacons per year.
The Bluetooth Beacon Interactor for Windows 10 is a free & open source app for scanning your environment for Beacons. It was the first Bluetooth Beacon scanner app available for Windows 10 and works on PCs, smartphones and even the Microsoft HoloLens.
New Features in Version 2.0
The app has just received an update to version 2.0, which adds the two most requested features:
URLs in Eddystone URL frames are now clickable. You can directly open the web site linked to by Physical Web beacons.
Thanks to a community contribution by kobush, the app now also supports beacons compatible to Apple iBeacons / Proximity Beacons.
You can download the source code of the Bluetooth Beacon Interactor and its base Universal Beacon Library at GitHub. If you would like to scan your surroundings for Bluetooth Beacons and analyze their contents, you can directly download the app from the Windows 10 App Store.
Especially when working with Bluetooth Beacons like iBeacon or Eddystone, you will often want to use embedded hardware to create a low-cost, always running system. This short guide explains how to read Bluetooth Beacon messages using the Arduino 101 / Genuino 101 board.