About Beacons

Beacon is proximity sensor that utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to broadcast its unique ID to its surrounding environments. Beacon technology was spotlighted for its potential uses for indoor localization and Location Based Services, and conveying context/location awarene infromation.


Although BLE beacons are prospected building blocks for IoT infrastructrue, these deivces suffer from two drawbacks: limited power supply and uncustomizable hardware. Beacons are commonly powered by coin cell batteries, limiting the operation life span of the devices; this leads to increased infrastructure management cost, as the batteries of these devices are replaced periodically. Many beacons currently available in the market are not customizable and therefore may not suit the need of the consumers.

In an effort to remedy the drawbacks of currently avaiable after-market beacons, open source modualr beacons with energy harvesting capabilities are introduced. As shown in the figure on the right, stackable modular design is proposed. The design consists of 4 sets of modules: energy harvesting, energy storage, BLE, and sensor modules. Such design allows more flexibility in choosing the desired hardware specification, as everything can be customized to suit the need of the consumers.

Current progress

Current version of the prototype is shown in the figure on the right. The prototype uses solar panel to power itself and furthermore recharge its rechargeable battery. The protorype is equippped with BLE IC from nordicRF and power management IC from Cypress. The dimension of this device is approximately, 3cm by 2.5cm. The deivce has proved to be capable of operating at advertising interval of 500ms under office lighting.

Performance Comparison Table

performance comparison table.pdf

Powerpoint Presentation

sustainable beacon.pdf

Related Papers

Kang Eun Jeon, T. Tong and J. She, "Preliminary design for sustainable BLE Beacons powered by solar panels," 2016 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications Workshops (INFOCOM WKSHPS), San Francisco, CA, 2016, pp. 103-109

Kang Eun Jeon, J. She, S. Park and C. Xue, "Battery-free bluetooth low energy beacon for indoor proximity infrastructure," submitted to ACM Trans. Embedd. Comput. Syst.

Kang Eun Jeon, J. She and S. Park, "Hybrid energy harvesting BLE beacon design leveraging on solar and wind power," submitted to IEEE INFOCOM 2017.

Other Reference Papers

Suzanne Jacobs, "A battery less sensor chip for the internet of things," MIT Technology Review, 2014

M. Jurek and J. Škuta, "Open-source smart home modules," 2016 17th International Carpathian Control Conference (ICCC), Tatranska Lomnica, 2016, pp. 286-290.