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What is iBeacon technology? | difference between iBeacon and Beacon

This page describes what is iBeacon and mentions basic difference between iBeacon and Beacon.

This iBeacon technology has been introduced by Apple in the year 2013. It is based on Bluetooth Low Energy. It is used to exchange small bursts of data within short distances.

iBeacon technology

As shown in the figure, there are two system components namely broadcaster device and smartphone with applications. Let us understand how iBeacon technology works.

In this system, beacon device sends out data all the time. When the device is in advertisement mode, it sends out data with three parameters viz. UUID, a major and a minor value. UUID stands for Universally Unique Identifier. As mentioned in the table below, UUID is 16 bytes in size while both major and minor values are 2 bytes in size.

Field Size Description
UUID 16 bytes Application developers should define a UUID specific to their app and deployment use case.It will be unique in one store or exhibition as explained below.
Major 2 bytes Further specifies a specific iBeacon and use case. For example, this could define a sub-region within a larger region defined by the UUID.
Minor 2 bytes Allows further subdivision of region or use case, specified by the application developer.

Let us take example of an electronic product exhibition to understand how iBeacon works. As mentioned in the table below, there will be one unique UUID per exhibition. The major values are assigned to larger divisions such as consumer electronics, telecommunications, medical electronics etc. The minor values are assigned further to smaller divisions of the larger divisions mentioned. For example, consumer electronics can be subdivided into television, computers, washing machines etc. Hence due to this clear demarcation in the entire exhibition, all the items are easily accessible by the visitors. Hence chance of locating the items of their choice will increase. This will help organizers to get more leads and consecutively more revenue. Any app on smartphone can use core bluetooth APIs to transmit iBeacon advertisements.

Exhibition Part Consumer electronics Telecommunication Medical
UUID D9B9EC1F-3930-53D0-81A8-1E39D4CEA94C
Major 1 2 3
Minor 10 (Televisions) 10 10
Minor 20 (Computers) 20 20
Minor 30 (washing machines) 30 30

Similarly planning in the store can also be carry out. The difference between iBeacon and Beacon is that iBeacon works based on BLE technology. Any device which broadcasts specific frame to all the devices in the network/system is known as Beacon. Even iBeacon also broadcasts but as per BLE specifications.

Also Refer What is BLE and Bluetooth vs BLE which mentions difference between bluetooth and BLE technologies.

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