[OSGeo-Discuss] GeoBeacons

Gary Mort gary at mort.net
Mon Jan 19 17:01:46 PST 2015


I am currently doing some prototyping of what I am calling 
"geobeacons"...  It is very similar to Google's concept of a "physical 
internet" but it moves from relying on uri encoding into strings which 
may be too long, to instead adoping a model such as RadioDNS.

As a brief background, Apple has been promoting the concept of iBeacons 
- this is a Bluetooth low energy device which sends unsolicted 
"advertisement" packets out periodically.  Smartphone applications can 
be written to monitor beacons received and to "do something" upon 
receival[display an advertisement, show distance to a meeting room, ping 
a web server, etc].

An iBeacon is extremely small and consists of a 128 bit unique 
identifier, a 16 bit "major" code, a 16 bit "minor" code, and an 8 bit 
transmission power code.

The initial thinking had been that a single company would establish a 
single 128 bit identifier for all it's "beacons" and use the major and 
minor codes to identify a specific beacon.

My thought is to convert this iBeacon format into an open format that 
does not depend on closed source applications.
The major and minor codes would instead be used to contain a single 
32-bit long geohash.  This resolves the issue of multiple beacons in the 
same area, since no beacon will physically reside at the same latitude 
and longitude[excepting being placed at different altitudes - in which 
case since the latitude and longitude are assigned to the device, they 
can be fudged 1 bit for multiple devices].

All geoBeacons would be expected to start with a specified string of 
bytes 32 bytes - represented in hex as GE0B.  This then leaves the 
remaining 96 bits for use as a semi unique identifier[since many 
individuals run smartphone applications which display the uuid, it is 
expected and encouraged for users to use hexspeak for the amusement of 
their customers].

By running some form of central lookup service, either web based or dns 
based, the combination of the 96 bit code and the latitude and longitude 
can be used to retrieve a uri which can then be loaded to provide 
content for the user that can be specific to an event/company/person.

I ran across the OSGEO group while researching various aspects of this 
and wanted to reach out for commentary and suggestions to this group, 
especially when it comes to utilizing existing standards. Keeping in 
mind that smartphone applications have a fast development cycle, any 
standards implemented must be uncomplicated and simple. JSON is 
preferred to XML, there is not a need for quite the level of detail of 
the current open GEO standards - while more complicated applications 
should be encouraged to reuse existing open GEO standards.

[IE to develop a simple time and location sensitive offer, all an 
application developer needs to do is provide an uri where the offer is 
available in html format, and then register their beacon code along with 
optionally the latitude and longitude codes.

Any query system must be smart enough to be able to not only lookup a 
specific unique id and geohash, but also to provide lists of all beacons 
at a specific geohash, and also have the ability to provide unique id's 
that are "close" to a geohash.

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