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RFID News Roundup

Jadak announces Bluetooth RFID reader for health-care applications ••• RFID market to reach $9.56 billion in 2015, IDTechEx CEO says ••• NEC Display Solutions of America uses Impinj RFID technology for contest ••• Google unveils Eddystone formats for Bluetooth beacons ••• ParkerVision's PV5870 demodulator selected for RFID products ••• Skytron inks deal to distribute Mobile Aspects' RFID-enabled smart cabinets.
By Beth Bacheldor

Google Unveils Eddystone Formats for Bluetooth Beacons

Google has announced new technologies aimed at helping developers build apps using Bluetooth-enabled beacons, including a new open format called Eddystone for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to communicate with users' devices, mechanisms to add meaningful data collected via beacons to apps and to Google services, and a method of managing fleets of beacons efficiently.

A posting on the Google Developers Blog describes Eddystone as an open language for BLE beacons. Eddystone, the blog explains, supports three different frame types for different use cases. The Eddystone-UID frame transmits a beacon's unique ID number. The Eddystone-URL frame enables a beacon to broadcast a URL, and forms the backbone of Google's Physical Web concept (see Blesh's Bluetooth Beacons Take a Sneak Peek at Google's Physical Web). The Eddystone-TLM (Telemetry) frame uses data obtained by sensors to enable the triggering of various actions, depending on different conditions, such as temperature, air pollution, loudness or humidity. Because the Eddystone-TLM frame does not contain a beacon ID, it must be paired with a frame that provides an ID—either the Eddystone-UID or Eddystone-URL.

Eddystone, which supports versioning to make introducing new functionality easier and works with Android, iOS or any other platform that supports BLE beacons, is available at the GitHub website under the open-source Apache v2.0 license for everyone to use and help improve, the blog post reports. It includes a security feature called Ephemeral Identifiers (EIDs), which change frequently and allow only authorized clients to decode them. According to the blog post, Google will publish the technical specs of this design soon.

Google is launching two application-programming interfaces (APIs) for Eddystone. The Nearby API for Android and iOS is designed to make it easier for apps to find and communicate with nearby devices and beacons, while the Proximity Beacon API lets developers associate semantic location (that is, a place associated with specific latitude and longitude coordinates) and related data with beacons, stored in the cloud.

In the future, according to the blog post, Google plans to introduce a certification process to ensure interoperability among beacons supporting Eddystone. Google says it developed and tested Eddystone with beacon manufacturers to be robust and available at launch, and that beacons capable of being provisioned with Eddystone are available from Bkon, Bluvision, Estimote, Kontakt.io, Radius Networks and Signal360.

Kontakt.io, a startup provider of beacon hardware, as well as back-end and software-development services, has been working on the Eddystone project with Google (referring to Eddystone as Google's alternative to Apple's iBeacon), and is readying its products to support the new format, according to this blog post written by Szymon Niemczura, Kontakt.io's CEO. Niemczura says the announcement is a "a big deal, because Android is gaining ever-more market share, and it's been left out in the Internet of Things (IoT) cold for too long."

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