A new report from AisleLabs shared with 9to5Mac ahead of its release examines the various Bluetooth beacon hardware options that support the ‘iBeacon’ technology Apple introduced last year. The extensive testing resulted in winners for four categories including style, performance, value for money, and built-in spoof protection.
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There are several companies selling Bluetooth beacons and services with support for iBeacon, Apple’s framework for allowing apps on iOS devices to talk with Bluetooth beacons for location-based features. In its report, Aislelabs takes a look at the most popular and offers results from a three month stress test of the products.
In order to accurately measure battery life of each beacon, we placed each beacon configured with different settings in our lab for 3 months. Over the three month period, we regularly measured the battery level (starting at 100% and decreasing over time). We also measured the current draw, in milliamperes, for each beacon… We experimented beacons with different configuration of tx power and advertising intervals. Each beacon has its own default values, in order to compare them all, we set them to a tx power of -12 dBmW and an advertising interval of 645 ms, which we refer to as Optimized iBeacon Settings.
After examining firmware, SDKs, battery life, chipsets, and performing stress tests under various conditions, the report awards 4 beacons the top spots based on Style (Estimote), Performance (Kontakt), Value for money (Minew), and Built-in Spoof Protection (Gimbal):
As for the lowest performing beacon in terms of battery life, Gimbal takes the spot with its thin beacon’s 240 mAh battery lasting only 1 month compared to the average 10 months for most other options. Aislelabs notes that “Gimbal provides an additional layer of Bluetooth MAC randomization, not available in other chipsets, which comes at the cost of battery drain.”
The full report and analysis from Aislelabs, which examines a total of 16 Bluetooth beacon products, is available on the company’s website here.