Proximity beacons can be used in conjunction with other manners of gathering position data in an Indoor Positioning System (IPS). To understand how they’re utilized, let’s look at how proximity beacons act on their own:
Proximity Beacon System Only
You can use a proximity-only system, but this is limited in some of its functionality. Proximity beacons are located at key points in a building so they can tell a user over their smart phone whether they are near or far. As they near a location, the user can be given a sense of their proximity to a particular location. This can help with push notifications, such as advertising a discount when a customer gets close to a certain store.
The advantage of using proximity beacons only is that they’re fairly inexpensive and they’re easy to install. They cannot equal a more robust Indoor Positioning System unless you’re overlapping them quite a bit (so they can effectively triangulate positions), at which point it becomes more practical and cost-effective to just use an IPS.
Proximity Beacons within an IPS
For true indoor navigation, and IPS is the best solution. Proximity beacons can help make an IPS more reactive and accurate by supplementing other data gathered through the app on a user’s device. This includes a variety of sensor data including motion sensor. It utilizes several different sources of measuring position and movement.
This can effectively triangulate a position by using several methods that each inform each other. Consider the way a car gathers data from multiple sensors to inform an end result, such as the air-fuel mixture being provided. In much the same way, an IPS gathers data from multiple sensors to inform an end result: the location and movement of a user. Laid within a map and the navigational app, this can give you a tremendously accurate navigational tool for users.
Proximity beacons alone can help users find their way via a “Marco Polo” or “Hotter and Colder” approach. This is useful, but can get annoying if you’re trying to find a specific hallway, store, or room. Proximity beacons utilized within an IPS can help provide very accurate information, especially when it comes to floor level within a multi-floor facility. They can tell you when you’re standing right in front of the right doorway or when you need to go a few extra feet around a corner.