Intro to ibeacons

A Xamarin focused introduction to proximity detection with bluetooth low energy beacons

Rod Howarth

About Me

  • Web & Mobile developer at Envoy
  • ASP.NET MVC + C#
  • Xamarin & native app experience  

What are iBeacons

  • Apple's trademark/spec for Bluetooth Low Energy 'beacons'
  • Small battery powered devices that transmit a signal regularly
  • iPhone, iPads detect and trigger events 
  • Proximity detection
  • Estimate distance to beacon

What can you do with them?

  • Increase context - detect your surroundings
  • Notifications & events based on proximity
    • Alert about deals
    • Museum exhibits
    • Home automation
    • Open tickets / loyalty card
  • Indoor navigation 
  • Virtual leash
  • Inventory management

Must have app installed

In Use

Virgin Atlantic Heathrow - Passbook
Major League Baseball - Stadium Experiences
Geelong Cats Simonds Stadium
Apple Stores 
Westpac trialing in branches
Museums (Rubens House)
Mt Ommaney Shopping Centre + 45 more coming in AUS

Types of iBeacons

Kontakt .io
Bluecats, Sonic Notify, Bluesense etc

Any iOS7 iPhone/iPad
Macbook Pro (using QuickBeacon)


Battery life (1-9 years)
Temperature Sensors
Power Level
Range (as far as ~70m)

IDentifying Them

  • UUID
    • Identifies owner
    • 128-bit value
  • Major
    • 16-bit unsigned int
    • Used to group beacons with the same UUID
  • Minor
    • 16-bit unsigned int
    • Used to differentiate beacons within the same Major

Monitoring vs Ranging

Monitoring triggers when you come in range of a region
(region being UUID/Major/Minor)

Ranging can then be started to determine distances
Near, Far, Immediate

Can see distance in meters, but it's inaccurate (interference)

Ranging has higher battery use 

Technical Details

Format specified by Apple 


Monitoring + Ranging in iOS


Environment is important

Calibrate power level in your environment

Ranging is for foreground only 

Many beacons can have power level configured
(could remove the need for ranging)

Use multiple beacons to get a better fix on location


Detecting region change can take up to 15 minutes!

1 second when ranging
NotifyEntryOnStateDisplay triggers on phone awakening

Great article: 


Not as well supported as iOS, but possible
Radius Networks component in Xamarin component store
Only for Android devices with Bluetooth LE
(Android 4.3 and up - 23%)

Samsung has a proprietary SDK for some older devices

Chews more battery life as its not built into OS
(hopefully announcements at Google IO?)

Android Component

Component here:

Example here:

Similar API to iOS




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