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Bluetooth Beacons

Bluetooth Beacons utilises GPS location to decide which actions are available to the user.

  • Inside a parking spot, a user can start a new ride or end and existing one.
  • Outside a parking spot, a user can pause and resume an active ride.

In our blog about GPS location and geofence we go into more detail on the way GPS works, and how uses it.

In this blog we will discuss some of the limitations of GPS, and how uses Bluetooth beacons to cope with those limitations.

GPS limitations

Your phone needs clear signal from at least three satellites simultaneously to triangulate your location. In the country side this is usually no problem, but in urban areas the connection might be harder to maintain. The signal can interrupted or blocked completely by buildings, infrastructure, or underground areas. As a result the GPS location can be inaccurate or unavailable altogether. In addition, GPS can only be used to calculate location on the face of the earth. To GPS, the top floor of a building looks the same as the ground floor.

Most customers operate in urban areas and use parking spots in all sorts of locations. If GPS was the only technology we used, the following situations could not be avoided.

  • Bikes parked in front of a main entrance, not in the bike storage cellar below the lobby.
  • Bikes parked on the roof of a parking garage where the user's car was parked, not at the bike parking spot on the ground floor.

Bluetooth beacons

A Bluetooth beacon is a small, battery-powered device that broadcasts a unique identifier via Bluetooth. When your phone's Bluetooth is turned on it picks up the beacon's unique identifier. This identifier can be added to a parking spot configuration. When a parking spot is configured with a Bluetooth beacon, any GPS location data is no longer used to decide the actions available to the user. A user can no longer start or end a ride based on the GPS location, the phone needs to receive a signal from the Bluetooth beacon for these options to become available.

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