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2 years, 9 months ago
Eddystone and Physical Web: evolution of bacons

My name is Alex, I am Android-developer in the Touch Instinct company. Recently Google invited me in jury to BaumanHack hackathon. I prepared the report on specifics of Eddystone and Physical Web, I share the main theses.


Everything began with the Apple company and beacons of iBeacon announced in the 2013th year. Beacons (English beacons) are the devices supporting the Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Their task is very simple – to send a data packet (advertisement packet) periodically.

We are interested in the following parts of this packet:

  • The identifier of a beacon which consists of three parts:

    1. UUID — 16 bytes, it can be ID of your company, a retail network, etc.
    2. Major — 2 bytes, ID of the city in which there is your network
    3. Minor — 2 bytes, let us assume, coordinates of specific shop

  • TX Power — 1 byte, reference value of signal power. Represents signal intensity at distance of one meter from a beacon. It is measured in dBm. It is possible to determine distance from a beacon to phone by this value by means of trilateration, for example.

You can set any UUID, major and minor value. For example, UUID — shopping center, major — shop in shopping center, minor — department in shop. In more detail about iBeacon Bluetooth profile it is possible to look here.

Shortcomings of iBeacon of beacons:

  • It is necessary to install the application
  • Support only on iOS (Android — only when using third-party libraries, for example, Android beacon library)


In July of this year the Google company announced own open format of beacons. For developers plus that the technology is compatible both to Android, and to iOS.

And still Google thought up to send three packets instead of one:

  1. Eddystone-UID. It is the same identifier — analog of iBeacon (UUID, major, minor). Consists of 2 parts: Namespace ID (10 bytes), Instance ID (6 bytes).
  2. Eddystone-Url.Teper beacons broadcast URL to 18 bytes. To us URL shorteners will help to solve a problem of long url. For example, service from the same Google From such address it is possible to receive short option. This main innovation, I will explain a little later why.
  3. Eddystone-TLM (Telemetry). Such data on a beacon are available:

    • charge level
    • quantity of the packets sent from the moment of connection to the power source
    • time of activity of a beacon from the moment of connection to the power source
    • temperature

Here it is possible to read the specification.

Common faults of beacons:

  • Signal transmission distance — to 50 meters in an open field. Indoors — it is less as walls influence distribution of a signal.
  • The user has to hold constantly Bluetooth low energy included on the smartphone, the benefit it consumes not enough energy.
  • One of vendors of beacons of Estimote declares that the battery works three years at default settings. It is necessary to monitor periodically bacons on presence of the unemployed that can represent a certain problem at huge park of bacons.

Physical Web

Why the new type of a packet — Eddystone-URL is so important? Because now it is the Physical Web engine. To understand what problem Physical Web tries to solve, let's remember a QR code.

Eddystone and Physical Web: evolution of bacons

It was the first attempt to connect Web and the real world, and it even partially was successful.

Let's consider such situation. We go on the unfamiliar area and we want to learn that we interesting are near. Even if the QR code is located within walking distance, it is difficult to find it. Sometimes it physically cannot be seen (for example, is round the corner). And if saw — it is necessary to approach, open to it the predefined application, to visit, receive URL (in most cases) and to follow the link.

It is too much gestures. We are lazy.

What offers us PhysicalWeb — interaction on demand.

Eddystone and Physical Web: evolution of bacons

There is a PhysicalWeb application. By means of it you can see all URL around you. It is necessary just to get phone from a pocket and to look what is nearby. In shop opposite New Year's sale, the musician in transition has the website, the car near you is sold, and round the corner lease the apartment. Mass of information on request.

Here good video for immersion in a subject.

That all this came to our life, the application has to be part not only Android, but also other mobile operating systems.

Let's review scenarios of interaction about Physical Web and examples of use in real life.

Classic Web

Eddystone and Physical Web: evolution of bacons

Provide that you stand on a stop and you do not know either the schedule, or number of the necessary bus. Can rescue a situation applications about transport, but it is supported not in all cities. But at a stop it is possible to hide bacon which broadcasts URL with the necessary information.

Cloud Passthrough

Eddystone and Physical Web: evolution of bacons

Let's allow you drive up to a gas station. Usually you go for filling, stand in a queue, pay and refuel. Here too it is possible to apply Physical Web. The gas station broadcasts URL where you will be able to set the necessary number of liters and to pay gasoline on the same page. After that through sockets the server will be connected to a column and process of gas station will begin. There is a similar scenario of payment for the parking:

Web Bluetooth

On video you see a turtle with whom it is possible to interact directly with the help of JavaScript Bluetooth API. It is the open standard which even in development.


Physical Web looks quite perspective so include Bluetooth and we will make this world a little more online.

In total with the come NG!

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