Understanding iBeacons is the first step in learning how to integrate iBeacon support into your FileMaker custom apps. This video introduces you to the concept of iBeacons.
- [Instructor] Introduced in iOS 7, iBeacon is an exciting technology that enables location awareness possibilities for FileMaker custom apps. Leveraging Bluetooth low energy, a device with iBeacon technology can be used to establish a region around an object. Now other companies including Google and PayPal have indicated that they'll have their own beacon technologies coming to market by the time you're watching this but these technologies are separate from iBeacon which is an Apple technology and FileMaker Go currently works only with iBeacons.
The ability to connect to iBeacons allows an iOS device to determine when it has entered or left a certain region. It also gives an estimation of the proximity to an iBeacon. IBeacons are actually things that you can attach to physical objects whether it'd be a piece of machinery or a certain room or let's say I'm recording this in a booth right now. There could be a beacon in this booth for example. And as I get near this booth which actually has the beacon on it my device will recognize that I'm within range of that and that range within a certain beacon is what's called a region.
So for FileMaker developers you'll need to understand that your custom maps will have to be aware of the iBeacons that you want to detect. You'll also need an understanding that you'll have to purchase the actual iBeacons in order to integrate them with your custom app. The ones that I've used for this demonstration are from a company called estimote. I'm sure there's tons out there. I just happen to know that these work and they're pretty cheap from a dev standpoint so I've gone and I've purchased some development ones that look a lot like these that you see on screen about a 100 bucks and you can configure them and I can at least confirm that those work with FileMaker.
So you'll purchase these beacons, you'll want to configure the beacons with certain information and then you'll go affix those beacons to some physical object and now that physical object has those attributes that you've set up on the beacon. That's the concept behind beacons and proximity awareness. Now beacons have certain attributes. These attributes are configurable by the user and can be detected by the FileMaker custom app. There are essentially three configurable attributes that you can control on your iBeacons. In the case of the estimote vendor who makes the iBeacons the first of these attributes is called the UUID, the major and the minor and these values provide identifying information about each individual beacon.
You can kind of think of these as user fields so don't get too caught up in the names here. They can be anything that you want. It just so happens that this is what they're called in beacon technology. But generally speaking, this information is hierarchical in nature. With the major and minor fields allowing for subdivision of the identity established by the UUID. The way you can configure the attributes will depend on the goals for your iBeacons and the location where they're going to be placed. And as you can see within the vendor's interface, you can control what the UUID is, the major and the minor value.
You can actually go and add those yourself so I've gone and I've added this UUID and in my case all three of them have the same UUID. I've added the major values and I've added the minor values. Generally speaking, this information is hierarchical in nature with the major and minor values allowing for a subdivision of the identity established by the UUID. To give you an idea here's an example of how these values may be used for a nationwide retail store. The UUID is shared by all locations so in this case we would have three beacons.
The San Francisco, Paris, and London. All three of those beacons would have the same UUID value. That's why we see that shared amongst all three columns. Each specific store San Francisco, Paris, and London is then assigned a unique major value you see represented by the number one, two, and three here. In these cases, these become the identifier for the store so again you don't have to worry about UUID and major and get all caught up in that. In this case, UUID can be the Apple store retail chain, let's say and then the major could be the individual ID for each store.
Just depends on how you're configuring your application. And now within each individual store, departments are given separate minor values so you see we've got clothing, houseware, automotive so the beacons in this case we could have a beacon for clothing, one for houseware, one for automotive, and the clothing beacon's going to have the same UUID as all the rest of them. It's going to share the same major or store ID with all the other three beacons but it's going to have it's own ID number 10 for clothing, number 20 for housewares, number 30 for automotive and so on.
So before you start to work with iBeacons within your FileMaker custom app you need a strategy on not only where the beacons will be placed but how they'll be identified through their attributes and then you'll go into the beacons themselves using whatever vendor's interface is provided and you'll assign those attributes. Now one thing you should be aware of because iBeacon is part of the core location on iOS the same user authorization is required in order for them to be used. So anytime users are trying to access an iBeacon through your FileMaker custom app, they'll see the same location authorization alert when an application attempts to use the iBeacon APIs as they might see when they're doing something like using GPS or other location services.
And as a result, location services will need to be turned on on your device for the FileMaker custom app to be able to communicate. So you'll see when you go into your settings you'll need to make sure that your location services are available to FileMaker as an app so that your custom apps can also have access. So the best way to understand the possibilities of iBeacons is to look at the ways that iBeacons are already being used today. Developers worldwide are building apps in retail, education, health care, transportation, hospitality, and more.
As a matter of fact you may be even interacted with them in retail. For example if you go into an Apple store and you have your iPhone in your pocket and you stand in front of a display of Apple TV if you look down on to your phone you'll notice that your phone has identified that you're in a store and you're standing in front of that display and the reason is because there's actually beacon technology that's integrated into the walls of every Apple store. Other industries let's say tourism might allow visitors to read and write comments attached to exposition items so that other people nearby or in the future will be able to access them.
Education you can see if your child is in a class or if he's skipping or if he arrived late or not. Event managers working at the red carpet will be able to identify a credential press based on their location on the red carpet and not have to even ask them who they are. The possibilities are absolutely endless and to really help you get started with the concept of beacons I've got some resources for you that I thought might be useful. First, if you search on this site for beacon technology you'll see that at least at the time of this recording there are various different titles on here that address beacons.
I think all of them might be interesting to be able to watch. An excellent place to get started is the Apple document on Getting Started with iBeacon. Strongly recommend that you browse through this before you get started and I happened to find this other source to be rather useful. The Hitchhiker's Guide to iBeacon Hardware: A Comprehensive Report by Aislelabs from 2015. I found this to be very useful in my own experiences. So before you start experimenting please take a moment. Educate yourself about what iBeacon technology is and then start to think of a strategy in how you can integrate that with your FileMaker custom apps.
- Using calculations in field options
- Using multiple criteria in relationships
- Advanced reporting
- Securing your custom apps
- Sharing your apps with FileMaker Server
- Configuring FileMaker Server
- Performing scripts on FileMaker Server
- Deploying FileMaker WebDirect
- Integrating with non-FileMaker databases
- Communicating with iBeacons
- Working with JSON