Kontakt.io Gateway, a next-generation device for tracking moving BLE beacons, expands situations where BLE beacon development has a distinct advantage.
Apart from helping our long-standing partner, Mustafa Almusawa, present the technical side of his indoor navigation projects, InNav and Our School Bus, at GEOIoT World 2017, we discussed possible options with him to further enhance our mutual projects. We decided to try testing Kontakt.io Gateway.
With its new Gateway, Kontakt.io presents a new and interesting case of a BLE beacons application for indoor positioning. The vendor also promises easy integration, flawless management, and a high degree of customization.
So, we took it back to our lab to examine how the device works and how to apply it to current and/or future projects.
What is Kontakt.io Gateway
Kontakt.io Gateway is a small stationary device designed to track moving BLE beacons.
Kontakt.io Gateways are designed to use when BLE beacons track the location of a moving object indoors to provide a real-time Bluetooth scanning option.
One or several Kontakt.io Gateways are fixed on indoor walls; BLE beacons are mounted on assets. When a Gateway detects a BLE beacon and receives data on its position, it sends data to the cloud.
The vendor promises real-time tracking of beacons and easy integration into existing software solutions. Also, Gateways can send additional information such as BLE beacons performance and health. The number of possible BLE beacon connections is “unlimited” but taxing the system with too many connections might cause freezing.
Gateways support both iBeacons and Eddystone protocols detecting all types of BLE devices. However, Gateways can gather data from non-Kontakt.io devices only after software customization.
In order to monitor BLE beacons, we need:
- The Gateway itself
- A set of BLE beacons,
- Access to the Kontakt.io cloud for Gateway to send data.
Kontakt.io Gateway hardware
Kontakt.io Gateway is based on the Arduino Genuino 101 board. This board suits the BLE beacon programming well with its onboard Bluetooth Low Energy module, gyroscope and accelerometer. Other pros include low-power consumption, small board size, and low-end price.
Kontakt.io Gateway hardware has the following key features:
- Size: 88 mm × 88 mm × 38 mm (h × w × d)
- Power: micro USB
- Signal range: 0-50 m
- Communication: Bluetooth Low Energy 2.4GHz (for beacons, two independent HCI modules available) and Wi-Fi (for data transmission and device management)
As a result, we have a little device that can easily be mounted on a wall. It ensures stable, robust connections with BLE beacons and fast data transmission to the cloud via Wi-Fi. And, the Kontakt.io Gateway requires only a small amount of power via USB port.
Software for Kontakt.io Gateway
The Kontakt.io Gateway is available together with a Quarter/Annual Subscription for Kontakt.io cloud. The subscription opens access to Kontakt.io services and to the collected data.. Via Kontakt.io cloud platform, BLE beacon developers have access to several pieces of software:
Location Engine – the key software component of Kontakt.io Gateway responsible for real-time tracking.
Web panel – Another key component used for management and configuration. Also, Gateways send received data to the web panel where it is displayed.
API – needed for customization. Among other things, API is needed to get data on your own server.
SDKs – needed to boost mobile app development.
Administration apps (both Android and iOS available) – for BLE beacons and Gateways management on mobile devices. Also, wireless firmware updates for Gateways are available through the mobile apps. No wires needed!
Kontakt.io software is an important part of the Gateway infrastructure helping save time on development and integration. The company provides sufficient tools for both cases: a) when you just want to manage beacons, and b) when you build your own custom solution from scratch.
Why Kontakt.io makes sense
The aim of the Kontakt.io Gateway: provide accurate real-time asset control and collect analytics.
Hence, Gateway helps when you want to know an object’s position and/or how much time the designated object spends inside/outside a location. For example:
- Tracking medical equipment inside a hospital.
- Tracking the elderly or children indoors to ensure their safety.
- Search, tracking, filtering containers or pallets inside large warehouses.
- Automated rental time tracking (cars, bicycles, boats). Rental time starts when Gateways stop detecting beacons.
For our company, Gateway is interesting for Our School Bus project. It enables automated recognition of the children as soon as they get on the bus wearing beacons. Badges on their bags ensures the school administration obtains accurate information even if some children might forget to turn on their smartphone app.
In conclusion. Judging by our observation, Kontakt.io Gateway is a relevant device. It actively scans for beacons, sends data to a web panel every 1.5 seconds (sufficient for building analytics). The device is easy to manage and easy to customize based on the API Kontakt.io already provides.
Therefore, Gateway has elaborate hardware and software components and a variety of possible use cases which makes it interesting for industries such as healthcare, retail, logistics, safety, among others.