Although I'm not a developer by any stretch of the imagination, I find the concept of iBeacons to be fascinating. The idea of low-power Bluetooth beacons that can coax apps into providing information about something that's near them is very cool, and a while back I wrote about some apps available from Radius Networks that provided a way to start playing with the technology without investing in any physical iBeacons. Well, Radius Networks is now rolling out the hardware in the form of what it calls RadBeacons, and I recently had a chance to try out two models and configure them with their own unique names.
The US$29 RadBeacon USB (left in image at the top of this post) is a tiny USB dongle that can be plugged into any standard USB adapter for power, while the $39 RadBeacon Tag (the white tag in the middle of the top image) is a battery-powered tag that is perfect for those situations where power may be an issue.
Both the devices work with apps from Radius Networks as well as any other apps that are aware of iBeacons. The free RadBeacon app (universal, optimized for iPhone 5) is used to configure RadBeacon proximity beacons. You can scan for configurable RadBeacons with a single swipe gesture, and each discovered beacon displays its name, model, and ID. Tapping on a discovered beacon shows its name and advertised UUID identifier, major identifier, minor identifier, power value, rate setting, and transmit power setting.
To update any of those settings, you just enter a valid PIN (which you can also apply), then change the settings and hit Apply. There's also a way to calibrate the measured power of the beacon by holding it at a set distance away, then letting it go through a calibration process. Once calibrated, you can measure the proximity of the beacon with the app as well. When everything is set up the way you want it, it's possible to lock the device so that third parties can't reconfigure it.