Google Launches Eddystone, Open Source iBeacon Rival

Named for a famous lighthouse in treacherous waters off the coast of England, Google's Eddystone offers a new way to use Bluetooth low energy (BLE) signals to guide people to helpful online information based on their locations. Unveiled by Google on Tuesday, Eddystone gives developers an open source alternative to Apple's iBeacon technology.

Beacon technology is being increasingly used in a variety of settings to send location-specific information to people with mobile devices. Stores, for example, can use beacons to automatically let shoppers know about specials at their particular locations, while museums can use the technology to provide visitors with more details about specific exhibits as they walk through the buildings.

Google said it's worked closely with several partners in the BLE beacon industry to develop Eddystone. The effort is part of its Physical Web project, a wider initiative to provide Web-based interactions on demand to users in the physical world.

Google Maps, Now Using Beacon Tech

"[W]e set out to build a new class of beacons that addresses real-life use-cases, cross-platform support, and security," Google Engineering Director Chandu Thota and Product Manager Matthew Kulick said Tuesday in a post on the Google Developers Blog. "Today, we're expanding the range of use cases for beacon technology by publishing a new and open format for BLE beacons that anyone can use: Eddystone."

Thota and Kulick said that Eddystone, which supports both Android and iOS devices, offers two key benefits for developers who want to build beacon-based apps: better semantic context and precise location. Eddystone's Nearby API, for example, "makes it easier for apps to find and communicate with nearby devices and beacons, such as a specific bus stop or a particular art exhibit in a museum, providing better context." The Proximity Beacon API, on the other hand, lets a developer associate beacon...

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