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What are Beacon Types?

One of the key benefits of the Common Use Beacon Registry is that it provides not just a list of iBeacons deployed at an airport, but provides classification details so you understand the context of where your passenger is when he/she comes into proximity of a beacon. It does this by dividing the airport up into zones that are relevant to a passenger journey. When a beacon is registered in the system, it is given a classification. These are listed below.

 

  • CheckinDesk: These beacons are to identify a check in desk, or a check in hall
  • Waypoint: This is a general purpose waypoint beacon. It can be used to indicate which terminal, concourse, floor of the airport a passenger is in. These are typically placed in the long walkway areas in airports.
  • Gate: Gate beacons identify a boarding gate at the airport.
  • Retail: Retail beacons are used to identify a single shop, or if a passenger is in the general retail area of the airport.
  • BaggageHall: These beacons are used to identify that a passenger is in the baggage hall, or at a specific baggage carousel.
  • Lounge: The lounge beacons are used to identify an airline or airport lounge.
  • SecurityZone: These beacons are placed in the security check point between landside and airside.
  • CarPark: These beacons are the airport carpark.
  • EntryExit: These beacons identify the main entrance/exit doors at the airport (landside).
  • SalesOffice: This beacon is for an airline sales office.
  • Restaurant: Retail beacons are used to identify a single restaurant/cafe, or if a passenger is in the general food hall area of the airport.
  • Other: A general purpose beacon.
  • TransitZone: This beacon identifies the airport transport areas, such as transit trains from one terminal to another.
  • ArrivalsHall: This beacon identifies the arrivals hall in the airport.
  • Kiosk: This beacon identifies a kiosk at the airport, such as a self service check in kiosk
  • Ramp: This beacon identifies the passenger boarding ramp between the aircraft and the airport terminal
  • CarHire: This beacon identifies the car hire area
  • Plane: This beacon identifies the entry/ exit point of an aircraft

 

This beacon classification means that app developers can provide a consistent user experience through iBeacons regardless of the airport. A gate experience at one airport will be the same as the gate experience at another airport.

Moving through zones

While it is early days for apps using iBeacons, it is expected that an app will monitor for a combination of both UUID and majorID. Given that all beacons of the same zone have the same majorId, this approach will notify your application as the passenger moves through different zones - from check in through security to retail to gate.

 

UUID, majorId, minorId

iBeacons can be identified through their UUID, majorId and minorId. In the registry, each airport has its own UUID, and each beacon zone has its own majorId.

An iOS app can scan for beacons when the app is active (called 'ranging') or scan for beacons when the app is not active (called 'monitoring'). In both cases the app needs to specify which beacons to scan for by specifying a combination of UUID/majorId/minorId. So, for example, an app can register an airport UUID as a region to monitor and the app will be woken up by iOS when the passenger enters the airport (assuming there are beacons in that airport of course!)

An few important limitations to understand about background monitoring for beacons:

  • Your app will only be woken when the passenger enters a region, and when the passenger exits the region. So if you monitor for a single UUID, your app will be alerted when entering the airport, and when exiting (assuming a blanket coverage of the airport - which is by no means assured).
  • There is a limit of 20 regions you can monitor for (a region includes both geographical region, and iBeacon region defined by UUID and/or majorId and/or minorId

What this means is that you generally can't monitor for every beacon in the airport (you'll exceed the 20 region limit), and also it probably isn't sufficient to monitor for just the UUID of the airport (your app will not get activated enough as the passenger moves through the airport).

 

Beacon Meta-Data

When querying details of an individual beacon the registry will also return what is referred to as 'meta data'. This meta data can be set by the iBeacon owner, or it can by dynamically generated. Typically, meta-data for Gate, Baggage, Security, CheckIn beacons is dynamically generated from airport operations data.

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