Beacons form the baseline of the indoor locationing technology. Hence, Beacon placement is a very important part of the set up. Follow the best practices guide of beacon placement to achieve optimum results.
Beacon placement is a very important step to ensure that the desired accuracy is achieved. Number of beacons, their orientation and the height at which they are placed are some of the factors that contribute to the overall performance of any beacon based indoor locationing system.
Keep the following factors in mind while placing the beacons.
The way beacons are oriented has a huge influence over the signal strength. One common mistake is to test beacons by only putting them on top of a furniture for example. If the beacon is oriented upwards, the signal is strongly weakened. Orient them correctly by sticking them to the ceiling or on a wall for best results.
Tx power and update rate are the two parameters that define beacons. The Tx power has an influence on the beacon range and the update rate influences the stability of the signal. Having a high tx power can drain the beacon battery really fast. At the same time, its signals wont be useful to far away devices because it’s hard to compute distance to a beacon beyond 20 meters. Not hearing a beacon can be a valuable information but hearing too many of them can decrease the location stability. For a lot of buildings, we use -77dBm and 300ms for tx rate and frequency.
To avoid having an obstacle between your device and the beacons, put them at least at 3 meters high to get a clear line of sight. At a height of 5 meters and more, the signals are weakened. In that case, increase the tx power from the default settings ( around -77dBm ).
Obstacles and interference
Signals can be blocked or absorbed by obstacles. Metals and water have a great effect. Even extreme temperatures can affect the signals of the beacons.
Number of beacons
Too few beacons may leave some places in your location uncovered. At the same time, too many beacons can affect the accuracy of the position computed.
Buildings usually consist of rooms and corridors.
It depends on what you want to achieve. Usually for a room, one beacon is enough to be able to navigate to the room or trigger notifications based on it. You may also choose to put beacons in the corridors outside the room if only navigation to that room is the requirement.
Sample – rooms equipped with one beacon each.
It is best to put beacons on the ceiling every 10-15 meters. If however, you can’t put them on the ceiling, put them on the wall. Put one beacon on the left, the next one on the right, and repeat the process. Remember to always put one beacon at crossroads. Accuracy is better when you’re close to a beacon, and this type of location is important for navigation.
Sample – corridors
In such spaces, where you have to place many beacons to cover the whole place effectively, factors such as interference come into the picture. Play with signal strength to reduce overlap. The best practice for such places is to create a symmetric beacon grid to cover the whole place. The density of the grid will define the accuracy in locationing.
As a best practice, it is recommended that the distance between each beacon should be between 10 and 20 meters. When beacons are 10 meters apart, it will give you an accuracy of around 2 meters. 20 meters will give a 5 meters accuracy.
Sample – Open Space with grid placement of beacons 10 meters apart.
With such a setup, an area of 10,000 square meters can be covered either by 121 beacons (11 x 11) or 36 beacons (6 x 6) depending on the accuracy needed.
If however, the location is too huge and needs thousands of beacons to be installed which may not turn out to be cost effective, spot the best locations like POIs, entry and exit places.
If the areas to be covered are not symmetric or need to be given special attention like a reception area or the turn of a corridor where the location is bad, extra beacon may be added to enhance their coverage.
For areas less than 40 square meters, our advice is to use no more than one beacon.
For small rooms where beacons are required inside, place them as far as possible from the entrance so that they cannot be heard outside the room. You could also choose to lower the Tx power of that particular beacon.
While changing levels, it is advised that one beacon is placed near the start of the stairs, escalator or elevator and one near its end. This will give you best accuracy and make floor transition faster in the application. If the stairs are too long, we may need another beacon in the middle as well.
GoIndoor SDK needs the information of the beacons placed in your building to provide you useful indoor locationing information. This can be done easily with the help of our free and easy to use ‘quick set up’ tool to install and manage beacons in your building.
Quick Set Up Tool is a mobile application for easy installation of beacons in your location. It is available for android devices currently. It supports both ibeacon and eddystone beacon protocol.
‘Quick Set Up Tool’ needs the following permissions on the device to run.
- Network access
- Bluetooth access
- Download the application from Google Play Store on your phone or tablet.(Search Quick Setup tool , onyourmap)
- Install the application on your device.
- Go to www.goindoor.co/freetrial and request for your credentials.
After the application is successfully installed on the device, login using the credentials given to you.
After login, it will show the list of buildings that you have created through the Admin Panel. Select the building in which you are placing the beacons.
It will show the plan of the lowest floor in the building.
You can change the floor or go back to the buildings list by clicking the menu icon on the left of the building name.
Press the icon on the bottom right of the screen to scan a beacon to be placed.
When the beacon is successfully scanned, the following screen appears. Click on the Add button and place the beacon at its physical location.
Mark the same location on the plan where you have placed the beacon. Once properly marked, select the icon to save the beacon. The beacon turns green in color once its information is saved on the server.
Repeat the above steps until all the beacons are placed.
To delete a beacon, select the beacon. It will show its current status. Press the trash icon on the top of the page to delete this beacon.
Do not forget to also physically remove the beacon.
To move a beacon, select the beacon and press it for long on the screen. It will turn orange in color which indicates that it can now be moved from its original place. After placing it at its new position, click the save icon on the top. Once moved, do not forget to also physically remove the beacon.
To undo the movement of the beacon, click the undo icon
If the beacon is not scanned properly, the following screen will appear. In this case, rescan the beacon.
When you scan a beacon and there is another beacon in the vicinity, following screen appears. In this case, isolate your beacon and scan it again.
If the beacon being scanned has already been scanned, the following screen will appear. You can either remove this beacon or scan another one.
Select a beacon and click on it. It will show a set of details of the beacon like last scanned time, status, geolocation etc. The ‘+’ icon on the bottom will change to icon.
Click on the icon to start listening to the beacon if its emitting. If the beacon is found, following screen appears which allows you to change the status of the beacon, if needed.
The beacon can be one of the following status at any time.
Please note that the device communicates to the beacon through bluetooth – it will only be able to listen to the beacon if they are close to each other.