The new format war - beacons

A new battle is brewing, like Beta-max vs VHS or HD-DVD vs BluRay, this time Google and Apple are ducking it out. Launched in 2013, Apple’s iBeacon concept has been a huge success with companies springing up solely to develop iBeacon based solutions and hardware.

The idea is simple, a small Bluetooth transmitter sends a unique ID and when an app on the phone sees that ID the app does something. The most common use has been simply showing relevant ads when the user walks by the beacon, but there are many different applications ranging from ticketing to indoor positioning. Apple’s special iBeacon APIs also allow for some specific functionality not available through other means.

However, in typical Apple fashion the specification is not open to just anyone, but requires signing contracts with Apple and libraries implementing support for Android have even been forced to remove their iBeacon support.

Enter Eddystone

So this year Google stepped up and released an open specification for beacons to rival the iBeacon: Eddystone. In fact, they released three different beacon specifications under the Eddystone name, each to cater to different uses of beacons. Eddystone-URL is a beacon sending out a web address, allowing mobile browsers to present a suggestion for a relevant website to visit;  Eddystone-UID, the iBeacon alternative sending out a unique ID and finally Eddystone-TLM for sending out telemetry information such as a beacon’s battery level.

iBeacon has a strong foothold and is very unlikely to go away anytime soon. However the openness of Eddystone makes it appealing for companies that need to target both iOS and Android platforms.



Our take: Case Slush 2015

For Slush 2015 our focus was on good reliable indoor positioning for both iOS and Android for which we chose Eddystone.

The benefits to us of Eddystone over iBeacons is that the iBeacon interfaces on iOS and these interfaces filter out information that can be used to improve positioning accuracy. There’s also an additional authorization prompt when using iBeacon which the user must accept. 

With Eddystone we have the best possible positioning with as similar functionality as possible on both platforms. All with a brand new beacon specification and a minimum amount of fuss to the consumer.


What about the future, who will win?

Unlike the Beta-max vs VHS and similar wars, with beacons there can be more than one. Some beacon manufacturers have already implemented beacons which are alternating between sending iBeacon and Eddystone messages, and even our indoor positioning is capable of using either or both. It all comes down to some very minor details of balancing usability, battery life and accuracy. With more choices there are more opportunities in finding  a good balance. Our choice of Eddystone was not as much a technical one as a usability focused one. In the end this simply mean that there will be better experiences for the only true winner that matters: the user.



Contact Info: 
Nimble Devices Oy
Otaniementie 19-21
02150 Espoo


Nimble Devices' indoor positioning solution 'Steerpath' gets tried and tested by the New York State’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and AT&T 2014 App Quest.

Espoo Finland - More than 300 developers have registered for the 2014 MTA App Quest with a chance to win prizes worth $50,000. 

Interest in Steerpath indoor navigation solution from Nimble Devices has helped see the creation of useful applications like 'Navigate' [1] which is focused on assisting the blind in finding their way around busy train stations and ‘MetroBeacon’ [2] which helps everyday commuters to find their way in complex transport hubs. The App Quest competition has entered voting phase, so here is your chance to influence on what is considered to be the next big thing in public transportation apps!

Nimble Devices sees that the success of indoor positioning at Grand Central Terminal will act as an example to further accelerate the improvement of public transport for all commuters everywhere. 

For more information about the indoor positioning technology used please visit

About Nimble Devices
Nimble Devices provides indoor positioning and navigation technology to mobile application vendors. The easy to integrate technology allows customers to add value to their applications through the use of guidance, search and contextually relevant information. Leveraging readily available beacon technology and capable of operating offline, accurate indoor positioning and navigation can now be brought to any environment.



Steerpath indoor positioning by Nimble Devices now at the Open Innovation House!

Steerpath is a fast to integrate, highly scalable indoor navigation framework for mobile applications. Whether you want to guide your users indoors, let them find products in shops or even to obtain contextual information on a factory floor, Steerpath is the right solution for you.

Steerpath SDKs for iOS and Android are now freely available to the residents of the Open Innovation House! With the assistance of EIT ICT Labs, Nimble Devices has placed Bluetooth beacons throughout the public areas of the Open Innovation House and enabled these for use in indoor positioning and navigation.

Come visit us for a demonstrations!

Slush14 was a huge success!

"The indoor positioning and directions on the map powered by Nimble Devices were, to say the least, super awesomely cool. Qvik & Nimble Devices have done some co-creation projects previously, so it was only natural to offer this new feature together for Slush. The Nimble Devices team executed the indoor positioning calculations as well as the hardware installation at the conference center." - QVIK