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Mobile and wireless communication market are characterized by rapidly changing technology, evolving customer demands and with the rapid growth of wireless communication services and network technology, many new wireless technologies are emerging [1]. Beacon technology is one of the new Bluetooth communication technology which uses low-powered transmitters and enables the smart phones and other devices to perform tasks when they are in proximity with any beacon [1].
In this paper, several approaches for building mobile communication services based on the detection of physical objects via network proximity are discussed. In this context, we can mention Quick Response (QR) code. QR code is a 2D barcode used for mapping URLs to physical objects. Wireless tags are also one of the most used approaches for detecting physical objects and wireless tags also support Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Wi-fi protocols, which are supported by almost all mobile phones [2].
Nowadays, there are also more secure wireless communication methods like RFID, NFC and Bluetooth technologies. RFID and NFC technologies use radio waves to allow a reader or scanner to communicate with a device that has some sort of electronic tag built in or added to it. The NFC is derived from RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and works by creating a “near field” (approximately 10 centimeters near) using high frequencies that allow to interact to NFC devices, that is to say that devices that have NFC module [3]. NFC technology is mostly used for secure transactions like contactless payment. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which is new version of Classic Bluetooth, are both short range wireless data transfer technologies, even though the range at which BLE operates is much longer: tens of meters compared to a few centimeters for NFC. Whereas NFC is focused on one to one data exchange, BLE allows for multiple simultaneous connections.
Companies are always struggling to produce ideas to come up with engagement problems and they do not hesitate overprice to overcome them. Because of the improvement of wireless communication technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) by any other name, Bluetooth Smart, and if we take into consideration of major increasing of smart mobile usage recently, companies could easily access to their customers and push any information to their customers mobile devices with lower costs via beacons which use Bluetooth technologies perfectly. In this context, the importance of Bluetooth technologies and Google’s latest experimental beacon technology, “Physical Web” are going to be reviewed in this paper.


Classic Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (short wave length) from fixed and mobile devices [4]. Technology was originally designed for continuous, streaming data applications including voice and has successfully eliminated wires in many consumer as well as industrial and medical applications. Classic Bluetooth technology will continue to provide a robust wireless connection between devices ranging from headsets and cars to industrial controllers and streaming medical sensors. Many of these connections are not good candidates for the new Bluetooth low energy technology, but many other new applications will be [5].

On the other hand, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is an emerging wireless technology developed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) for short-range communication. In contrast with previous Bluetooth flavors, BLE has been designed as a low-power solution for control and monitoring applications. BLE is the distinctive feature of the Bluetooth 4.0 specification [6].

With the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, there has been considerable interest in its possibilities in both the media and the market. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology also has important limitations as well as benefits. It is quite different from Classic Bluetooth technology so different that one carefully needs to consider which technology best fits the application needs [5].
The key feature of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is its low power consumption that makes it possible to power a small device with a tiny coin cell battery such as a CR2032 battery for 5–10 years. As with Classic Bluetooth technology, Bluetooth low energy technology operates in the 2.4 GHz ISM band and has similar radio frequency (RF) output power; however, because a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) device is in sleep mode most of the time and only wakes up when a connection is initiated, the power consumption can be kept to a minimum. Power consumption is kept low because the actual connection times are of only a few mS. The maximum, or peak, power consumption is only 15 mA, and the average power consumption is of only about 1 uA [5].
Because of BLE’s lower power consumption, quicker connection set-up and larger number of potential connections in relation to the original Bluetooth technology, Classic Bluetooth, BLE allows for indoor mapping using beacons. It is also possible to enable mobile in-store payment transactions using BLE.


Beacon in wireless technology is the concept of broadcasting small pieces of information. The information may be anything, ranging from ambient data (temperature, air pressure, humidity, and so forth) to microlocation data (asset tracking, retail, and so forth) or orientation data (acceleration, rotation, and so forth). The transmitted data is typically static but can also be dynamic and change over time. With the use of Bluetooth low energy, beacons can be designed to run for years on a single coin cell battery. [7].
How do they work ? We can use the analogy of a lighthouse. A beacon has one simple purpose in life, and that is to send out a signal and say i am here. It is completely unaware of any mobile devices that are around it. It doesn’t connect to them. It doesn’t steal their data and doesn’t know anything. It just sends out the signal and says “hello”. According to the analogy of a lighthouse, ships are the mobile devices [8].
What is beacon protocol ?. Just as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are standards of radio communication, beacon protocols are standards of BLE communication. Each protocol describes the structure of a data packet beacons broadcast [9].

Beacons are platform independent. There are several protocols which were developed by different providers like Apple, Google etc. Apple did come out originally with the iBeacon protocol. Beacon is physical device with antenna and Bluetooth Low Enery stack that can send out packets. But it doesn’t mean that Android devices and other devices cannot see those iBeacon devices.
The other known protocol is Eddystone, which is an open BLE protocol developed by Google. The advertising packet is naturally different from that of iBeacon. In fact, Eddystone is designed to support multiple data packet types, starting with two: Eddystone-UID and Eddystone-URL. There’s a third type of packet: Eddystone-TLM, as in “telemetry.” This packet is broadcast alongside the Eddystone-UID or Eddystone-URL packets and contains beacon’s “health status” (e.g., battery life). This is mainly intended for fleet management, and because of that, the TLM “service” packet is broadcast less frequently than the “data” packets [10].
iBeacon provides two API methods for apps to detect iBeacons devices: ranging, which works only when the app is active, and provides proximity estimations; and monitoring, which works even if the app is not running, and provides a binary “in range” and “out of range” information [10].
In this paper’s context, Eddystone-URL packet ties directly into the concept of Google’s Physical Web. It will be discussed later.
Beacons are not internet connected: as we have mentioned before, beacons are just responsible for sending out signals. Once we position them, they are like a lighthouse. They are unaware of themselves and any other devices that are around them. They are not connected to wi-fi. They can just send BLE packets to those that they say “hello”. But some of industrial beacon devices have capability of connecting wi-fi. They might need to be updated new and observed their battery.
Beacons do not steal your data: You actually need to have explicit opt in from your customers. They need to download your mobile app. They need to give access to location. And then by doing that, you can take one of the beacon IDs for a beacon you have in a physical location and ask the app and operating system to monitor for that specific beacon ID. When the mobile device sees it in the wild, it will let the app know that it is seeing a beacon. Then the app can go back to your server and say, "Hey, as customer ABC, I've seen XYZ beacon," and then you know to take action. Opt in is required. The download is required. Privacy is very important with beacons. It is very well locked down. It shouldn't be a customer concern.
Beacons have ability to determine distance. The most basic use of beacon technology is to determine how far a mobile device is from a beacon, but as anybody who has played with beacon ranging knows, these distance estimates can have a significant degree of uncertainty. For a beacon that is 5 meters away, distance estimates might fluctuate between 2 meters and 10 meters.
Consequently, there are several beacon technologies and their data transmission way via Bluetooth Smart protocol is developed by different companies. Also their capabilities are almost the same. But not being entirely apples and oranges, iBeacon and Eddystone (Physical Web, Eddystone-URI) function for quite different purposes and have very little overlap in their use cases [12].

Understanding the Physical Web

The Physical Web is entirely about person to machine interaction and standardising a universal usage method for internet of thing (IoT) [12]. The aim of this project is to provide “interaction on demand” so that people can walk up and use any smart devices without the need for intervening mobile apps. This would make it possible for users to simply walk up to a bus stop and receive the time until the next arriving bus, without any additional software needed [13].
The manifesto of The Physical Web is, “The number of smart devices is going to explode, and the assumption that each new device will require its own application just isn’t realistic. We need a system that lets anyone interact with any device at any time. The Physical Web isn’t about replacing native apps: it’s about enabling interaction when native apps just aren’t practical.” That is to say that, the Physical Web does not require a dedicated App. Any Physical Web browser will see all other Physical Web Beacons (allias; UriBeacon, gBeacon) within their immediate vicinity” [14].
As we have mentioned before, the difference between kinds of beacons like iBeacon and Physical Web is protocols that are developed by different companies. Working principles of the Physical Web and iBeacon and the differences between iBeacon and the Physical Web are shown in table [1].

The Physical Web can advertise 28 bytes packet containing an encoded URL. The approach is designed to be a “pull” discovery service where most likely the user will initiate the interaction. For example, when someone arrives to the university campus, He/she can start an application that will scan for nearby the Physical Web beacons or can open his/her Chrome browser and do a search. The application or browser will use context to top rank nearby objects combined with results. It can also use calendar data, email or Google Now to narrow down interests. A background process with “push” capabilities could also be implemented. This process could have filters that can alert the user of nearby objects of interest. These interests rules could be predefined or inferred by using Google’s intelligence gathering systems like Google Now [15].

As it could be seen from the figure 3, when consumers want to search the vicinity around them, Chrome browser will show all URLs that nearby Physical Web beacons provide.

Figure 3: The Physical Web how it works [17]

Edystone Url

Eddystone-URL packet contains a single field: URL. The size of the field depends on the length of the URL. The promise and purpose of the Eddystone-URL packet ties directly into the concept of Physical Web. Whereas with iBeacon or Eddystone-UID there’s a need for an app to take the beacon’s identifier and translate it into certain actions, with Eddystone-URL the data is encoded directly in the beacon’s advertising packet. This means that the user can access content—usually in form of a website—without the developer needing to build a native experience. Remember that a Physical Web–enabled browser is needed to detect Eddystone-URL packets. Currently, that’s Chrome and Opera for iOS—and more apps are coming, including Chrome on Android. Alternatively, you can build your own Physical Web browser, or use Google’s Physical Web scanner app (available on iOS and Android). The URL could be a regular web page providing relevant information—e.g., a beacon next to a movie poster could broadcast a link to a YouTube trailer. It also could be a dynamic web application, with contextual parameters embedded in the URL—e.g., [10].

To deploy beacons using the Physical Web, use Eddystone’s URL frame type (Eddystone-URL) to broadcast your website to users. Associate your beacon with any arbitrary URL and deploy it to a location. Users with a Physical Web-supported client such as Chrome can discover the website on their device.


The number of smart devices is going to explode, and the assumption that each new device will require its own application just isn't realistic. We need a system that lets anyone interact with any device at any time. The Physical Web isn't about replacing native apps: it's about enabling interaction when native apps just aren't practical.

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