How to find the best beacon hardware for everything from stores to cities

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Looking to install proximity beacons in your store, or in your local ballpark, or in various phone booths around your city? First, you’ll need to decide which brand of beacon you’ll be installing, which isn’t easy — there are now a lot of various beacon hardware options at a wide range of prices. A good place to start sorting through is this new report by Aislelabs, a beacon services provider, which looks at 16 different beacon hardware makers.

There are a surprising number of considerations when choosing which line of beacons to buy. For instance, some beacons advertise themselves to devices by sending pings out more often, which increases the chance of a usable connection and signal, but drains battery life more quickly. Do you want your beacon hardware to have a battery, or are you going to plug it into USB or a power outlet? Finally, how much do you want to pay?

The Aislelabs report covers all those questions, and came up with four “top of the line beacons.” [company]Estimote[/company] makes what Aislelabs considers the most stylish beacon, which uses a Nordic Semiconductor chipset covered in an angular case that can’t be opened. Estimote beacons do boast a 22 month battery life, though.

Aislelabs named Polish company [company]Kontakt[/company], which makes Nordic-based beacons, as its favorite “high performance beacon” maker, thanks to solid engineering and a large battery. Of the 16 beacon makers, Aislelabs thinks Chinese company [company]Minew[/company] offers the best value, with a Texas Instruments chipset and a low price. And [company]Gimbal[/company], the beacon company that spun off from [company]Qualcomm[/company], makes a beacon based on its own chipset that is resistant to some kinds of spoofing attacks.

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This most recent Aislelabs report is remarkably comprehensive, and it offers a great look at the current beacon hardware landscape. Previous Aislelabs reports have looked at how Android and iOS devices handle Bluetooth Low Energy (beacon) signals differently, and whether beacons can drain your phone’s battery life.

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