Beacon Deployment: The Perfect Grid
So where should I put these?
This is a thought many people have after opening their first box of beacons. The truth is, your deployment strategy will depend on what you want to achieve.
Each approach to beacon deployment has its own pros and cons. Ideally, it will match with your objectives without limiting the scope of your project or making it too expensive.
A clear understanding of your objectives is the first and the most important stage of beacon deployment. Without this, the whole installation process can become a mess.
This is why, as a leading beacon infrastructure provider, we’d like to share with you some insights into the most common deployment approaches, and explain how they relate to the objectives of your installation.
Point-Based beacon deployment
At Kontakt.io we generally distinguish between two types of deployment: Point-Based and Grid-Based. The one you choose will depend on what you want your beacons to do.
Let’s first talk about the Point-Based as it’s the easier of the two. You will use it when your primary goal is to make certain objects in your facility interactive and context-rich.
It’s a piece of cake: you just mount the beacon at the specific Point of Interest; match it with the information you want to trigger in your app; choose the radius within which you wish the app to activate; voilà – you have your beacon solution.
Now people walking around your venue will receive notifications when reaching that specific object or a location. You decide what they will learn about it or how their journey will continue: with some guidance/directions from an app or without.
You can use very few beacons to build various exciting solutions with a Point-Based deployment. With a maximum range of 70 meters, Kontakt.io beacons can cover a very big area.
Point-Based deployment is quite easy to implement, but it does have some limitations. For example, it doesn’t allow you accurately to navigate your users through the venue, only give them directions or indicate their approximate location.
This is a problem if you are looking for insights about user behavior. Let’s say you want to analyze your customers’ journeys through your store. With Point-Based deployment, you can only detect when the user approaches a specific point. What happens in between remains a mystery.
But here comes the solution: Grid-Based deployment. But be aware, it’s trickier. You should use it if you want to:
- Be sure that your users can engage with an app anywhere in the venue;
- Help users navigate with a GPS-like real-time accuracy;
- Get detailed data on your user’s paths and behavior.
It’s called Grid-Based for an obvious reason: instead of mounting beacons in specific locations, you need to arrange them in a grid that will perfectly span your area. To do this, you will need a detailed blueprint of your building, good engineering skills, a cup of coffee, and some beforehand planning.
It will also require an app (or an SDK) that has a trilateration or even a triangulation algorithm, which will help to determine the exact location of your user’s smartphone. This means that at any point your phone should detect at least two beacons.
Lastly, you will need to do some calibration after the deployment in order to determine if all your beacons’ signals are strong enough, working in harmony, and not interrupting each other.
Although it’s more expensive and difficult to install, Grid-Based deployment can help you to do awesome things!
But what are your alternatives? What if you still want a decent navigation system, but don’t want to deal with complex trilateration?
Well, to make a workable solution you don’t always have to follow the most difficult path.
For example, you can set up something called a ‘Loose Grid’ deployment. In this case, you are still creating a grid, but a less dense one. Each beacon can cover a substantial area with a signal reaching the margins of the grid, but not overlapping. This way you can create a fairly accurate navigation build on proximity with fewer units or a sophisticated software.
The difference between this solution and the one based on triangulation is comparable to the distinction between GPS and the ‘you are here’ maps in shopping centers. The first will show your exact location at any point, the second will tell where you are approximately in relation to some specific point.
POC(e) it with a stick
The conclusion? You need to decide on the objectives of your deployment before you deploy.
Our cheat sheet can help you to make this decision.
Scaling up from a Point-Based to a Grid-Based deployment might be a difficult and expensive task – it may even require the redesigning of your entire deployment.
This is why we recommended that you first test your idea on a smaller scale and make a Proof of Concept (POC).
To help you, we wrote a comprehensive guide on how to make your first POC.
Download it below!