How beacons work with OnLocation Mobile
Bluetooth beacons can be used to increase the accuracy of your automatic sign in by only signing users in once they connect to a beacon inside of your geofence.
Beacons are small Bluetooth devices that can connect to your smartphone automatically when in range. They come in a variety of strengths and configuration options so it’s important to ensure you get the right beacons for your location(s).
When beacons are set up in your OnLocation account, automatic sign in is based on connecting to the beacons rather than solely on the geofence.
How OnLocation Mobile signs in using beacons will depend on the smartphone’s protocols:
- iPhone – When the smartphone is within range of the beacon it will connect and sign in. This may take approximately 20 seconds.
- Android – When the smartphone enters the geofence, it opens a ‘foreground’ service to continuously scan for beacons until connected. Users will see a notification on their smartphone to indicate the foreground service, if they dismiss this or remove access for this, the smartphone will only be able to scan for beacons once approximately every 15 minutes.
When the smartphone connects to a beacon, the user is signed in according to your settings.
When the smartphone disconnects from a beacon, OnLocation Mobile checks if they are still inside the geofence. If they are, OnLocation Mobile will track them until they either connect to a beacon set up in your account or leave the geofence. If they leave the geofence, they are signed out according to your settings.
Beacons can only transmit a signal through line of sight. Some stronger signal beacons may be able to transmit through solid walls and glass. We recommend asking your beacon manufacturer for specifics around your beacons’ strength.
When setting up your beacons, you need to consider your physical setup:
- If you have an office with a lot of walls, you may want a stronger beacon or multiple beacons within a short radius.
- If you have a large open reception, you may want a beacon with a large radius to ensure the entire area is covered.
- If you have an entry point where users may need to stop before entering your location, like a guardhouse, then a single beacon at that point may be able to connect for all users coming on-site.
To use beacons, a user’s smartphone must allow the following:
- iPhone – Bluetooth does not need to be enabled but the OnLocation Mobile app must have location permissions enabled. This should be enabled during the original app setup.
- iOS 12 and under - requires permission to be ‘Always Allow’.
- iOS 13 and up - requires basic permission.
- Android – Bluetooth must be enabled and OnLocation Mobile requires location services permission to use the geofence and start scanning for beacons.
You can purchase beacons from various suppliers. The only requirement for using beacons is they must be able to be set to iBeacon protocol.
Set up your beacon
Step 1: Configure the beacon
How you configure the beacon depends on the beacon manufacturer. You can order a fully configured beacon, request the manufacturer configure the beacon for you, or use a manufacturer-supplied app to configure the beacon.
If your beacon has been configured for you or comes pre-configured, you can use a generic app to scan for beacons and record the required details.
Beacons must be set to iBeacon protocol. This will provide you with UUID, Major, and Minor numbers. Record these to set up your beacon in the next stage.
If your beacon is not set to iBeacon protocol, you will not be able to set this up for use with OnLocation Mobile.
Step 2: Add a new beacon
- Go to Locations, then select the location from the drop-down list.
- Select OnLocation Mobile.
- Select the Auto Sign-In/Out tab.
- Click Create a New Beacon.
- Give the beacon a name. This is to identify it within your location.
- Enter the UUID, Major, and Minor numbers.
- Set Enabled to Yes.
- Click Save.
Beacon scanning will automatically be used by all OnLocation Mobile users for signing in according to your settings.