Due to their high reliability, user-friendliness and cost-effectiveness, Beacon-based technologies for Indoor Positioning and Navigation have emerged as the most popular among the vast variety of methods currently on the market.
Putting up Beacons at the venue is one of the key processes of an Indoor Positioning project. However, “putting up Beacons” may sound simple, though, there is more to it than just that and you will have to consider one thing or the other. The way you go about your Beacon infrastructure setup can either make or break your project’s success.
Therefore, we’d like to share our top 10 most important tips for your Beacon installation.
As a first step, before ordering Beacons, you should calculate the amount you will need for your installation. Ordering excess hardware is an unnecessary strain on your expenses. Installing more Beacons than are needed may even cause disruptions in your accuracy.
On the other hand, less isn’t always more either. Insufficient coverage of Beacons will also lead to inaccurate positioning results.
One of our latest developments, AGENT, allows you to simulate your installation, providing you with an accurate assessment of the number of Beacons you require.
In order to be able to install the Beacons inside the respective building, you will need a permit as well as IDs for all your on-site engineers. Make sure you get permission from the facility management or the security department well before the actual installation to avoid any potential security issues or being denied access to critical areas, causing delays of your project.
Installing Beacons may not sound like risky work. Nevertheless, it is important to take precautions and be prepared, should anything go wrong or an emergency situation occurs.
Especially when doing the installation in buildings that are still under construction, you always have to wear gear such as safety vests and helmets. Also don’t forget to organize a ladder beforehand to reach high enough to mount the Beacons and wear comfortable footwear to ensure stable footing.
When mounting the Beacons on the walls inside the building, you should carefully consider where to put them. In general, Beacons should be placed in the field of vision of mobile devices. Here are some simple rules you should follow:
Don’t put the Beacons on objects that could potentially block their signal
Leave enough space between the Beacons, approximately one every 8-10 meters
Place the Beacons in close proximity to the smartphone users. Don’t put them up too high on the wall, ideally 3-4 meters from the ground.
On top of that, you will also have to take, what kind of building you are working with, into consideration. The one-size-fits-all approach, unfortunately, won’t work here.
Bigger, open spaces (e.g. exhibition halls or the central square of a shopping mall) often require more adjustments and fine tuning when it comes to Beacon positioning and signal strength. On the other hand, venues with clearly differentiated pathways (e.g. hospitals or office spaces) will usually be more straightforward. Therefore, keep in mind you need to plan your on-site activities accordingly.
Certain materials and objects should be avoided in your Beacon installation, as they may cause a Bluetooth signal interference. Some of these signal-blocking materials are metal, concrete, but also objects such as microwaves or poorly shielded cables. Apple has created a list of potential sources of Bluetooth interferences for you to check.
Always make sure the surface you are going to mount the Beacons on is clean, so they will stick to it well. If there’s dust or dirt on the wall, they won’t adhere properly and sooner or later the Beacons will come off, causing the whole Indoor Positioning System to fail. Therefore, simply use a towel to wipe the dust off before placing the Beacon. Also, definitely use high quality adhesive tape for the same reason.
Beacon batteries usually last around three years, before they need to be replaced. Depending on your industry and use case, the amount of Beacons installed may range from 50 for smaller installations to 1,500 Beacons for large event exhibitions.
Especially in the latter case, you will wish for a system to inform you exactly which Beacon needs to be replaced.
In order to avoid a situation where too many Beacons fail at once, risking a system crash, you should always keep track of your Beacons and know which ones are low on battery beforehand to make according arrangements proactively, i.e. order new Beacons.
Both indoo.rs and Kontakt.io provide Beacon Infrastructure Management systems, which allows you to keep track of each Beacon, including battery status and location inside the building, making it easy to maintain the setup.
From start to finish, one of the most essential aspects of a successful Beacon installation is communication. Continued consultation and feedback both internally and with external partners involved in the project is important to keep everyone up to date and avoid any potential unpleasant surprises upon arriving on site.
Setting up Beacons in and of itself may not be considered dangerous or difficult work. However, getting the setup right is crucial for the output quality you will get, e.g. for your Indoor Positioning solution, afterwards. So if you are new to this technology and don’t feel confident enough doing it on your own, you might want to consider having a professional do the complete setup for you efficiently and with top quality results.