New technologies, like Bluetooth beacons, have the potential to empower the human community in the same way they add value to business. It's up to us to recognize and exploit that potential through exercises like Hacks 4 Humanity. meltmedia aims to jumpstart community-focused mobile app development through education on the potential for using beacons in the real world.
Resources for Beacons Hackers
Below is a pile of useful links and helpful nuggets of information for learning about and working with Bluetooth beacons, specially compiled for the ASU Hacks 4 Humanity event on September 20 & 21, 2014.
Background on Beacons Technology
Watch this! Video: Bluetooth Beacons a Bit More Demystified (video and text info)
More Technical Dive: A Maker Review on Bluetooth Smart Beacons (in-depth article)
Beacons Deployed for You!
We have installed 2 RedBear B1 beacons within the event venue. They are available for you to use within your app, if you wish to integrate them into your use case(s). Here are the specifics for accessing one of more of the four available beacons:
Proximity UUID: E2C56DB5-DFFB-48D2-B060-D0F5A71096E0
Major number: 1255
Minor numbers: 1 (beacon 1) and 2 (beacon 2)
We have one beacon in each of the Maroon and Gold Gyms. Beacon 1 is placed by the computer that is powering the projector on the East wall of the Gold Gym. Beacon 2 is located by the registration desk in the Maroon gym. Your beacon-based actions will require proximity to those physical beacon locations.
Beacon 1 (Gold Gym)
Beacon 2 (Maroon Gym)
These will help you locate and test the installed beacons for this event.
BTLExplorer by KS Technologies
BLExplr by Michael Kroll
Light Blue LE by Punch Through
BKON Connect by BKON Connect
This is by no means an exhaustive list of hardware and software related to iBeacon and Bluetooth Beacon development, but it's a good start.
RedBear is a Hong Kong Bluetooth Low Energy beacon device manufacturer. The firmware on a RedBear B1 beacon can be upgraded over-the-air via Bluetooth. They have a simple little switch that allows you to easily turn the device on or off. This helps in simulating entry or exit of beacon regions/proximity. They cost about $30 to $35 each, depending on the number you purchase.
Again, the meltmedia RedBear beacons placed around the venue this weekend use the following Proximity UUID:
The Major number is always 1255 and the minor number will be 1 or 2, which represents the actual number of the beacon (we have two of these set up).
meltmedia is partnering with BKON, a beacon hardware manufacturer out of Nashville, Tennessee. Their regular A1 devices are nicely designed, use two AAA batteries and are available NOW.
BKON Bluetooth beacon devices are $30/each. Attendees of the ASU Hack 4 Humanity event can contact BKON directly and ask for a 10% event attendee discount. Tell them you learned about their beacons through meltmedia at the event to get your discount on their hardware.
BLEKit from UpNext
BLEKit is a framework for efficiently managing large-scale deployments of beacons (Bluetooth Low Energy devices implementing Apple’s iBeacon protocol). With a simple yet expressive JSON-based syntax, you can easily specify typical beacon actions, such as sending welcome messages, executing remote-server actions and performing automatic checkins.
Sample Use Cases for the Humanities
Example 1: A Virtual Museum Tour Guide for the Visually Impaired
Beacons could be deployed in a museum setting to trigger actions within the museum's mobile app that would enhance the experience for those who normally have trouble navigating such environments and/or can't see the actual pieces or installations.
The beacons could help guide people with an oral map that directs them through the venue ("turn 90 degrees left, and walk 40 meters straight ahead to the Mona Lisa"). When they arrive at each exhibit, they can be fed an enhanced oral description of the exhibit that helps them get more out of the experience than in the past.
Example 2: Increase Donorship to Humanities Projects Through Partner Businesses
An existing app with broad usership (ie, Shopkick or Yelp) could be triggered to solicit donations from users and partner businesses when it encounters beacons in the real world, at partner businesses. This would require this existing app to add this "humanities support" layer.
A specific example: A Yelp user enters Pizzeria Bianco in downtown Phoenix. A beacon at this "partner" pizzeria triggers the Yelp app to solicit a donation to the Phoenix Ballet, as this is an organization that Bianco wishes to support. This partner business offers to match the user's donation up to some set amount, say 50 bucks, causing a total donation of 100 bucks.
This could increase donations via this impulse, peer-challenged trigger. And beyond that, raise awareness of this artistic and culturally valuable part of our community.
A project like this could run for a set period of time, or in perpetuity.