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Internet of Things Sensors & Mapping

Wireless Personal-Area Networks

Bluetooth and ZigBee have much in common. Both are types of IEEE 802.15 “wireless personal-area networks,” or WPANs. Both run in the 2.4-GHz unlicensed frequency band, and both use small form factors and low power.

Article: Bluetooth and ZigBee: Their similarities and differences

   NFC Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR) Bluetooth Low Energy ANT+ WiFi 802.11 b/g WiFi 802.11n
Standard by  ISO/IEC Bluetooth SIG Bluetooth SIG Garmin Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi Alliance
Network Standard ISO 13157 etc.          
Network Type Point to Point WPAN WPAN WPAN WPAN WPAN



Beacon Nodes are usually positioned at the ceiling or on walls.

Mobile Nodes

A mobile node is attached to the person or object to locate.


In order to locate the mobile node using the trilateration method the position of the beacons must be known in advance. The determination of the beacons position is usually done manually by measuring the distance to the two closest walls of the building using measuring tapes or ultrasonic/laser rangers. This method is cumbersome and error prone, therefore different techniques have been proposed to address the problem of obtaining automatically the position of the beacons, also known as the auto-calibration or auto-localization problem.


Remote Application Framework (similar to AirPlay)

OSM et al

Bluetooth 4.0

Bluetooth SMART

Bluetooth low energy (BLE, Bluetooth LE)

Apple support for BLE in Bluetooth 4.0

In mid 2011, Apple joined the board of directors of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which also includes Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Toshiba and Lenovo.

Apple also added support for dual mode Bluetooth 4.0 in its mid-2011 MacBook Air and Mac mini, and subsequently added support to the iPhone 4S, making it the first Bluetooth 4.0 compliant smartphone.

Subsequent 2012 iOS devices, including the “New” iPad 3, iPhone 5 and the late 2012 iPad 4 and iPad mini also support Bluetooth 4.0. Apple also added Bluetooth 4.0 support to the mid-2012 MacBook Pros and the late-2012 iMac. Earlier Macs can add Bluetooth 4.0 support via a third party USB dongle.

Microsoft has not yet added general support for Bluetooth 4.0 and BLE in Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8. Microsoft has added custom support for BLE to the Surface Pro, but not its Surface RT. Nokia’s newest Lumia WP8 phones include BLE hardware, as do new Blackberry Z10 and Q10 models and recent higher-end models of HTC and Samsung smartphones.

According to WWDC 2013

You can buy this third party program, program them to emit whatever Bluetooth signal but also, your iOS devices can be beacons.

So your iPads, your iPhones with the new iOS 7 SDK, Public SDK, you can program them to emit whatever signal you want and you can do that dynamically and programmatically and vary depending on what’s happening.

So, imagine at the museum, the painting or the statue has a sign like an iPad is the sign, like a smart sign, like we have in our retail stores maybe, and you could tell the information about the painting but if it’s crowded, it’s still emitting Bluetooth LE in on your app, we can detect that and show them whatever UI.

iOS 7

iBeacons is a new feature of iOS7 that allows mobile devices to be accurately located inside buildings.

This opens up the possibility of creating a new generation of location-based learning content.

In practice, this means that when a user is near a “beacon” content can be “pushed” to their iPhone or iPad.
Because “beacons” are small, low cost and low power devices it is now possible to trigger “learning events” anywhere in your workplace.

Why did Apple go with iBeacon and not NFC

There are a few reasons why it makes sense for Apple to go with iBeacon and not NFC. The first is that range and affordability.

In a detailed piece Hari Gottipati, writing for GigaOm, has outline just how important this is: “The average area occupied by a Macy’s store is 175,000 square feet, which is 16,258 square meters. iBeacon’s range is 50 meters (typical Bluetooth range), or 2,500 square meters. So a typical Macy’s store would need 7 iBeacons. If Macy’s wanted to add NFC tags (each at 10 cents) to all its products to send information to phones, it would cost $1,000 for 10,000 products, $10,000 for 100,000 products and $100,000 for 1 million products. NFC may not be needed on all products, but this will give a rough idea on how much it could cost.”

AirDrop does the file transfer

There’s also the fact that Apple doesn’t really need, or perhaps, want NFC. It has AirPlay and Airdrop to handle the transfer of files, music and video clips. And NFC comes pre-loading with assumptions that Apple may not be able to fulfill, such as mobile payments. iBeacon is a new technology that offers a blank slate for Apple to make of it what it will in association with shopkeepers.

And NFC is used by Google. And Google vs Apple is still very much a thing to consider. This is also the downside of iBeacons compared to NFC. Because it only works with Apple devices, shopkeepers have to pay to target iPhones and not Android phones. We’re pretty sure shopkeepers want a marketing system with universal support; a payment system without universal support is simply out of the question.

The Promise Of QR Codes Just Without The QR Code

The premise for the modern, non industrial QR Code is to form a link between the real world and the Internet world. The QR code is actually far more popular then most come to understand. It even forms the basis of the most successful mobile wallet in the US, the Starbucks App.

The reason Starbucks has had this success with QR codes is because they use the technology in reverse. That being they control the imager and the customer displays the QR code on their device. This is in stark contrast to the way most startups and legacy companies have used this technology. That being the consumer controls the imager, a built-in camera and the QR code is usually a static printed image. The user’s phone must have many things in place for this to be a successful interaction. And iOS devices require a separate general purpose app to decode the QR code and hopefully act on the requirements and purpose of the QR code correctly.




Usage scenario






Tools (Sniffer)



Wireless key locators

Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth LE)

Bluetooth 3.0

Bluetooth 2.1

Raspberry Pi



Wi-Fi Direct

Apple’s forthcoming AirDrop in its iOS 7 mobile operating system will employ Wi-Fi Direct to be able to share files between two devices anywhere. Google’s Android operating system has had Wi-Fi Direct support since version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and has enabled various functions that users may be familiar with from Samsung Galaxy smartphone commercials (such as sharing pictures with your friends or the gimmicky All Share feature).







Z-Wave is a wireless communications protocol designed for home automation, specifically to remotely control applications in residential and light commercial environments. The technology uses a low-power RF radio embedded or retrofitted into home electronics devices and systems, such as lighting, residential access control, entertainment systems and household appliances.

Z-Wave requires a master controller and a Z-Wave device. The most useful type of master controller is a USB stick, as it will allow you to control your devices using your smart phone or computer.

A Z-Wave device can be a light switch, a light dimmer, an outlet – for controlling things like TV’s, DVD’s and plugin-lamps – a motion sensor, a thermostat, or even a deadbolt lock.


  1. Install Firmware Driver for Z-Stick
  2. Home Automation (UK) - Z-Wave Aeon Labs Z Stick Series 2 - Unboxing and set-up
  3. How to set-up the Fibaro Door Sensor with Indigo on your Mac
  4. Pair. Hardware Manual for the Z-Stick, Pairing Manual





Software (Mac)


Control pages


Flat UIs









INSTEON is a protocol developed by SmartLabs, parent company of, which is widely used in North America and is moving into other markets as well. There are a few 3rd party vendors that make INSTEON hardware but most devices are made by SmartLabs. INSTEON is a combination RF and power line-based protocol. It is also said to support communicating over USB and Ethernet connections, and it can be intermixed with X10 devices for backward compability.


X10 is a legacy technology that works primarily over the power line though some devices are wireless (using the X10 RF protocol). X10 can not be recommended anyone that starts a new home automation system because of it’s poor reliability.

Mac Software

DECT Ultra Low Energy

UPB (Universal Powerline Bus)



Protocol overview

Protocol Power Line Radio-Frequencey Available API Open Source Needs Neutral Wire?
OpenHAB either either yes yes no
C-Bus no yes yes no no (uses category-5 UTP)
Insteon yes yes yes no usually
 KNX yes yes yes no no
UPB yes no no no no 
X10 yes yes yes no no 
Zigbee no yes yes no no
Z-wave no yes no no Usually
433 RF          

Definition of Things


Sensor Products