octubre 2014 - crowdsify

Beacons, a look ahead (Part I)

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After spending these last months playing with Beacons and some other tag devices, there are some things that we miss out there. We find iBeacon technology amazing, and for sure a game changer regarding the way we interact with things around us. But still constrained by its lack of interactivity.

The initial Beacon specification provides a simple way for a device to advertise itself. As Texas instruments provided here and the guys of Radius Networks analyzed here the package itself contains only advertising information. UUID, major and minor fields together with vendor related info, control flags, hardware infoAll what you need to detect and identify a Beacon is there. The initial idea was to create a “dumb” device that strictly publishes its information periodically. Another device should scan for these signals and react to them based on their relative position. This simple approach has changed the way we interact with things around us making our smartphone an even-smarter-phone, that is fully aware of its location and the context where is used.

But the world is moving towards a different “technological paradigm”. A world of connected things that interact between them. Words like it, wearables, smart things, domotics… Are becoming more and more popular. Our generation was born in the PC era. A super centralized computer that wasn’t aware of what was around it. Only a CPU, a screen and some peripherals. Later, Internet arrived opening a new world of connected computers. They were a bit more aware of the rest of the world. A few years ago, the smartphones arrived. Those super personal computers, aware of their own location, other phones, with cameras, sensorsA truly smart device that could interact with others. We have created a network of smart devices.

MWC2014-09

With beacons, we feel that we are on that initial generation. But we need to look forward and try to foresee what could come next. We miss a smart beacon. Even more, a network of smart beacons. Image how powerful it would be to create a cluster of beacons representing an entity by itself. A cluster carrying its own information about its location as a cluster. Like a beacon of beacons. A cluster that could detect automatically when a new beacon becomes part of their cluster and share its information. Talking about automatic detection. Why not thinking in a protocol to discover new beacons? Something like a DHCP for beacons. We would be able to plug and unplug easily beacons, move them around, without the need of configuring them. A beacon that could acquire information about its context based on its own position. This flexibility would allow us to move around beacons, beacons that are aware of their own position. A nice approach towards this direction was taken few weeks ago by our friends at Estimote, thanks to their stickers. A tiny beacon with a preloaded context. A dynamic sticker would be a nice next step…

 

To be continued…

iBeacons and Education: Mapping beacons against the SAMR framework

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samr beacons

 

We are learning many thinks about how to apply technologies to education thanks to our partner JNXYZ Education. An interesting framework to do so is SAMR framework by Ruben R. Puentedura, that defines Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition as the levels of technology integration. The goal is to create content and learn in a technology rich environment with opportunities to apply to the students’ critical thinking skills.

Do beacons maps against SAMR model? Definitely, yes! That’s why JNXYZ Education and us are publishing this infographic, on how beacons redefine the original learning task.

You can also download it in in PDF format.

samr inforgraphic