This post is by Home Assistant contributor Greg Dowling.
In 2013 Apple introduced iBeacons: a class of Bluetooth low energy (LE) devices that broadcast their identifier to nearby devices, including most smartphones. At first glance it’s hard to imagine why they might be useful. In this two part blog I’ll try and explain why they are useful and how you can use them with Home Assistant.
The reason I started using iBeacons was to improve presence detection (and I think that’s the case with most people) so that’s what I’ll discuss in part 1. In part 2 I’ll talk about using iBeacons to track devices that can’t track themselves.
When you use OwnTracks in standard major move mode (which is kind to your phone battery) it sometimes fails to update when you’d like it to. In my case I found that it would often send a location update as I was on my way home, but then not update when I got home. The result would be that Home Assistant would think I was 500M away from home, and take quite a while to notice I was home. It would also mean that the automation that should turn on my lights when I got home didn’t work very well! There were a few times when my phone location updated at 2am and turned the lights on for me. Fortunately my wife is very patient!
Luckily, OwnTracks supports iBeacons so I could use them to make presence detection more reliable. When OwnTracks sees a beacon it recognizes, it will send an update. This means that if you put a beacon at your front door - OwnTracks will see it within a few seconds of you arriving home - and send an update saying it has seen this iBeacon.Read on →