iBeacon is a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communication technology that enables mobile apps to capture signals from beacons in the physical world and react to them. It allows mobile apps to gauge their position on a micro-scale and deliver hyper-contextual content to users based on their location. We take a look at how these two Internet of Thing (IoT) endeavours by Apple will work together to make our lives simpler.
iBeacon on HomeKit
Currently, iBeacon has been largely marketed by Apple for the retail environment. With HomeKit, the home-grown BLE technology by Apple will be accessible to a larger customer base that is setting up a smart home. At its most basic level, the iBeacon will inform Apple's smart home of the user's presence when they come home and all systems will turn on as per pre-set conditions to welcome them and ready to use.
Using iBeacon in Smart Home Devices
iBEacon can be used to define actions for the smart appliances such as lighting, ventilators, heating/cooling systems, television etc. among other things. With Siri integration, simple voice commands and spoken reminders will automate the systems and activate appliances. Different apps such as the Calendar app and Notes app can also be used to work in tandem with Home Kit and iBeacon to give commands to the various smart appliances in the house.
HomeKit currently offers native support with iBeacon to control lighting in the house, there is a lot more that can be done if the imagination is stretched. For instance, a Beacon placed in the key will help your smartphone to track they key when it is misplaced within the house. Also, when the key is inserted in the lock, the variously programmed lights will be switched on as soon as one enters the house.
Apple iBeacon for the House
In 2014, Apple submitted a proposal for creating the first dedicated iBeacon – compatible beacon hardware for its Smart Home product. Apple iBeacon will turn the iPhone, iPad or other compatible iOS device into a temporarily discoverable beacon. Thus, used with HomeKit, the user will be able to control locks, lights, doors, security cameras, switches, plugs, kitchen appliances and much more. Apple will not be supplying the hardware for iBeacon as many third party hardware beacon devices are already available. Apple iBeacon will act more as a centralized control hub that can be triggered from the iPhone or iWatch.
What Kind of Smart Home Applications Can You Build Using iBeacon and HomeKit
There are a host of applications that are available for controlling lighting and other basic activities within the house. However, these are yet to be fully developed to be truly effectual. We bring you a few ideas where iBeacon can be applied with HomeKit to create a smart living space.
An iBeacon to notify select recipients of your arrival. For instance, the presence of family members can be detected via the application as they enter or leave the home
Automatically lock or turn off appliances such as computers, laptops or television in the house when the beacon device is not in proximity
Take photographs from the security camera or webcam remotely and email it to oneself by triggering the camera using the iBeacon. This way, any intruders photograph can be captured and stored securely even while the resident of the house is not at home
Turn on the music system in the car or at home to play any specific song when the beacon device is in proximity
Beacons are easy to install and set up and BLE Beacon shipments are expected to exceed over 400 million units in the next five years as per an ABI Research report. With the iOS 10 all set to hit the markets by next year, the use of iBeacon technology will soon be widespread globally.