Intro to Estimote APIs
At Estimote, we’re building an operating system for the physical world.
What does it mean? An operating system’s key role is to give apps APIs to interact with the hardware. For example, subscribe to mouse clicks, or draw on the screen.
An OS for the physical world is no different, except the world itself is the hardware. We want to provide developers with APIs to subscribe to the movements of people and objects, or to wirelessly take control of the nearby displays.
What’s ahead (aka Table of Contents)
Overview of the key APIs
Proximity is about your apps detecting they're near areas of interest. First, tag the area with a Proximity Beacon (Location Beacons work too), and call it something—e.g., “my desk.” From now on, Bluetooth-enabled devices such as iOS and Android smartphones can detect that it’s in proximity of your desk.
Indoor Location is about replicating the GPS technology, but indoors, where there’s no satellite coverage. Put up a whole bunch of Location Beacons throughout the space, and they will automatically map it out and create a floor plan—courtesy of the UWB radio they’re equipped with, and Estimote Automapping technology. From now on, your iOS and Android apps gain access to precise indoor (x,y) coordinates of the device.
Nearables are smart objects that advertise their state and presence over Bluetooth. Imagine if your keys and wallet did that, so that your smartphone could alert you if leave without them. Or how about your coffee mug telling you that the coffee is getting cold? That’s the Nearable protocol and API.
Of course today, most objects don’t come with a Bluetooth radio built-in, which is why we created Estimote Stickers. They’re tiny beacons that you can stick on any object, instantly converting it into a nearable.
Display (Mirror) is an API to wirelessly take control of any nearby displays. Imagine walking up to an airport information screen, and having your flight info pop up, along with a map to the gate. That’s the smartphone in your pocket, and the airport/airlines app, communicating with the Mirror video-beacon attached to the screen’s HDMI and USB ports.
Robotics, our most cutting-edge API, is simply Indoor Location, but for robots.
Estimote APIs at scale
Building an app that interacts with the physical world is one thing. Deploying thousands of beacons spread around hundreds of venues is another one, which is why we also have a bunch of APIs and technologies for that:
Beacon Health Check. Beacons broadcast telemetry data such as their battery level or when was the last time they moved, and our SDKs forward this data to Estimote Cloud. This way, we can notify you when something’s off.
Remote Fleet Management. If you need to update firmware or settings of your beacons, you can queue the changes via Estimote Cloud dashboard or API. They will automatically propagate to the beacons the next time somebody is in range of them, and also over mesh.
Bulk Updater and deployment tools. For when you need to efficiently configure and deploy large quantities of beacons.
Analytics. Monitor which areas and objects are the most interacted with.
What about iBeacon or Eddystone?
iBeacon (created by Apple) and Eddystone (created by Google) are Bluetooth advertising protocols. This means they define what data beacons broadcast over Bluetooth, and the format of that data. You can think about it as the “language” that the beacons speak in. They’re also commonly referred to as “packets”.
Note that iBeacon and Eddystone are not the only options—Bluetooth devices can advertise whatever data they’re programmed to do in their firmware. Estimote Beacons for example broadcast additional packets: with telemetry data (sensors, battery level), special packets used for Estimote Monitoring and Indoor Location, etc.
In order to “consume” the Bluetooth packets, you need an API. And Estimote APIs do exactly that. They “consume” the Bluetooth packets broadcast by Estimote Beacons, so that your app can know more about the physical world around it—be it proximity to places or objects, or precise (x,y) indoor position. You don’t need to learn the intricacies of iOS/Android Bluetooth stacks, signal strength processing, etc.
Tip: The iBeacon, Eddystone, and other packets can also be consumed by other APIs: iOS’s Core Location and Core Bluetooth, Android’s BluetoothLeScanner, Google’s Nearby Notifications, etc. Each API has its strengths and weaknesses, so you can pick one that suits your needs best. (Needless to say, we recommend the Estimote APIs!
Estimote APIs are free to use for accounts with up to 20 beacons, of any kind. Whether you’re just getting started, prototyping, or deploying on a small scale, you’re covered!
When you’re ready to expand, email us to firstname.lastname@example.org for both volume-discounted hardware pricing, and software pricing.
There’s also a hardware-only plan for when you want to use your Estimote Beacons without Estimote APIs.