Google launches open-source beacon platform: Eddystone

Though beacons usually broadcast information publicly, Eddystone has the option to communicate privately as well, which greatly expands the applications for the technology.

July 15, 2015 |
Google moves towards the light with Eddystone

Courtesy Google Developers

In May, BD+C's blog partner, CASE, covered the rise of indoor positioning technology, and identified architectural applications for beacon technology.  

BLE (Bluetooth low energy) beacons are small battery-powered devices that connect with tablets and phones that are in the immediate vicinity. This can enable businesses and other entities to send messages to users based on where they are in a certain space. Apple released the iBeacon in 2013, and the iOS8 update last summer made the innovation even stronger.

Mashable reports that Google will challenge Apple in this realm: The company unveiled Eddystone, a new BLE beacon format, along with tools that will let developers create apps along with the service. Google named the beacon after the Eddy Lighthouse in England, and the company has drawn the parallels between new beacon technology and classic guiding lighthouses.

Unlike iBeacon, which is only compatible with iDevices, Eddystone is cross-platform and discoverable by any Bluetooth smart device. It is open-source so any beacon manufacturer can make hardware compatible with it.

Though beacons usually broadcast information publicly, Eddystone has the option to communicate privately as well. The privacy feature, called Ephemeral Identifiers (EIDs), lets users track their luggage while traveling and find their keys, for instance.

For developers, Google released two new APIs. The Nearby API connects apps with other close devices and beacons; for example, users at an art museum can receive additional facts about a piece or display over their phones. The Proximity Beacon API allows developers to associate semantic location with beacons and store it in the cloud.

Eddystone is available on GitHub under the Apache v2.0 license. Google says Eddystone can be installed with a firmware update.

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