Home Automation with Wearable iBeacons

Posted by on Mar 23, 2017

iBeacons have started appearing in wearables. There are now credit cards sized beacons, keychain fobs with built-in iBeacons, wristbands with iBeacons, lanyards with iBeacons and even iBeacon stickers.  One of the most interesting application for these new types of iBeacon is trigger home automation rules by just walking into a room.  We have been doing exactly that with our line of iBeacons and the Geohopper app, but with the appearance of wearable iBeacons on the market turns this around.  Instead of an iBeacon trigger an app, a person is wearing the iBeacon and broadcasting their whereabouts right from their wrist, wallet, or keychain.  An iBeacon detector can then pick up that signal and activate a rule for home automation.

To make all this work, we have introduced a new product: The Proxidyne iBeacon Detector as the newest member of our sensor line for home automation.  It listens for any nearby iBeacon devices and sends a trigger for the appropriate action.  To show how powerful the iBeacon Detector can be, we integrated the new iBeacon Detector and all of our sensors with the Indigo Domotics Home Automation Platform.  It runs on the Mac and works with a wide range of home automation devices.

To get it to work with Indigo, we created a plugin for all of the sensors, including the new Proxidyne Beacon Detector.  The system looks like this:

When someone with a wearable walks into a room with an iBeacon Detector, the iBeacon detector senses it and compares the identifiers being broadcast by the iBeacon to the identifiers the iBeacon detector is listening for.  Specifically, if the UUID and major number of the iBeacon transmission from the wearable match the configured UUID and major number of the iBeacon Detector, a trigger is sent from the iBeacon Detector to the USB Receiver plugged into the Indigo Server.  The Indigo server has our plugin installed, and recognizes this transmission, and triggers an action based on the person entering or existing the proximity to the iBeacon Detector.  The iBeacon Detector has the ability to filter out based on signal strength as well, so only iBeacons that are within a specified distance  will trigger actions.  You have much more granular control for triggering on distance than with an app and an iBeacon.

Here is a step by step on how I set it up:

  1. Download and install our Indigo plugin from github.  The plugin needs to be installed in the /Library/Application Support/Perceptive Automation/Indigo 7/Plugins folder:
  2. Indigo now shows the Bleunet plugin as an available plug-in in Indigo:
  3. Plug in the Proxidyne Receiver, click Configure to select the serial port.  It shows up as a usbmodemXXXX:
  4. Now the plugin is talking to the receiver.  To receive iBeacon packets, I set up a device by selecting Devices in the main window and clicking New.  Create New Device appears and select Type as Bleunet and the Model as Beacon Detector:
  5. When prompted for the Node ID, I entered in the number on the side of the iBeacon Detector:
  6. The device now shows up in Devices in Indigo.
  7. I then plugged in the Beacon Detector in my office to start detecting when I entered and exited the office.
  8. I then configured the wearable iBeacon (a lanyard with a built in iBeacon) to the correct UUID and major number of the iBeacon Detector:
  9. You can see that my lanyard beacon now shows up under Custom States in the Beacon Detector device:
  10. Now I wanted to do something interesting.  I could turn off lights when leave a room or adjust the temperature when I arrive home, but I wanted something more awesome.  And by awesome I mean play “Eye of the Tiger” when I enter a room.  So I head over to Triggers and set up a new trigger:

  11. I then walked out the room, and when I came back in, I was announced with Eye of the Tiger.  Mission accomplished.

There are many possibilities with wearable beacons.  Unlike beacon detection with an app, wearable beacons don’t require you to install an app, opt-in to location services, and do not affect the battery life on your phone.  You just put the wearable beacon on your keychain and start trigger on the enter and exit events.

Many other things are possible with wearable beacons.  For example, notification of when a device (for example, your iPad) leaves a room.  Just slip a wearable beacon inside the back of the iPad case and if the iPad leaves the room, you can get notified even if the iPad is powered off or out of range of a network. The iBeacon Detector will see that the device is not longer there and generate the notification.

If you are interested in trying this out on your own system, check out the Proxidyne Wearable iBeacon Detector Starter Kit for Home Automation or any of our awesome sensors for home automation.

If you want more information, fill out the form below and let us know how we can help!

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