What is the difference between proximity detection and indoor location?

Proximity vs Location

There are two main uses of beacons:

  1. Proximity detection (more widely used)
  2. Indoor location / positioning (more precise and more possibilities for use)

Proximity detection is completely beacon dependent. A beacon placed in a room, an aisle or under a shelf will detect when someone is in its’ range and send them a notification. There are three ranges available: far, near and immediate:

  • Far range is between 3m and 70m.
  • Near range is between 0.5m and 3m. It enables microfencing. E.g. customer passing by a shelf with a beacon on it will receive a push notification to try a new product.
  • Immediate range is up to 0.5m.

Proximity detection is a perfect solution if you want to send a welcome message to each visitor who passes by. Its’ drawback is that the beacon needs to be rescanned each time you want to change the message.

On the other side, indoor positioning / location is based on a triangulation. This opens up a whole new set of possibilities and it is easier for managing. This means that, once the beacons are set up in an area, every meter of distance has the capacity to work independently. Here we’re not only talking about microfencing but about real indoor geofences! Now you receive information about someone’s actual position and not just that they’re somewhere close .

This way users can navigate through area based on personal preferences. For example, if person marks in the application that he/she uses a wheelchair, shown paths will exclude stairs.

Push notifications are not beacon dependent. You can create different notifications in the same location for different customers according to their profiles.

Beacons were originally made to provide proximity detection technology. However, they evolved. Thanks to their complex algorithm, they can be used for indoor positioning, navigation, pathfinding, etc.

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