Aruba Beacons Placement Models

In a Meridian-powered app, the accuracy of the user's blue dot location on a map is highly dependent on the quality of the Beacon placement in a location. Beacon placement needs to take into account architectural features, such as walls, floorplan layout, multi-level floors such as atriums, stair cases, and more. Even things like fountains and indoor foliage can distort the Bluetooth signals that enable the app to provide the user's current location.

As the user’s mobile device moves through a space, the Meridian app will hear the Beacon's Bluetooth signals and continually update the user's blue dot location on a map. Meridian-powered apps can display a blue dot location if the device can hear Bluetooth signals from nearby Beacons around it, with the accuracy improving as more Beacons are heard. If the app can hear more than three Beacons, it will use the Beacons nearest to the blue dot's location to calculate that location. The Beacons used to calculate the user's location will change as the user moves around in a location.

Given the incredible variety in architectural layouts, the same Beacon deployment model may not work for every location or even for different spots within the location. The layout of your floor plan will determine the type of deployment you'll need to use. Beacon placement can be generalized to two placement models:

  • Path Model: Suitable for a hallways or corridors where the blue dot tracking is for a user moving in a linear path, along one axis only.

  • Area Model: Best suited for larger open areas where the blue dot is tracking a user moving in a two-dimensional path along the x-axis and y-axis.

We recommend testing and refining your Beacon placement until the blue dot accuracy meets your expectations.

Path Model

As the device with the Meridian-powered app moves down the hallway or corridor, it's only important to show how far along the hallway it is. In general, users aren't too concerned with how close the blue dot is to the wall on either side.

One Beacon is enough to show a user's blue dot location on the map, but the accuracy will be rather poor and the app won't track the user's movement very well. Two Beacons are needed to show a blue moving along a linear path.

If ceiling mounting is possible, place the actual Beacons directly down the center of the hallway and do the same using the Beacons app. If ceiling mounting isn't possible, you may attach the actual Beacons to the wall, but in the Beacons app, place the Beacon in the middle of the hallway. This way the blue dot will show the user in the middle of the hallway. The app will show the blue dot moving in a straight line on the map regardless of the client device's actual position in the corridor.

Figure 1: Path Model. User position shown on Meridian map when two Beacons are nearby.

Figure 2: Path Model, with AP-mounted beacons. Consider using AP-mounted beacons for location services only if they exist on path.

Area Model

Two Beacons can track a user's device and show relative linear location, but it takes three Beacons to trilaterate the user and show a blue dot as it moves across a two-dimensional x/y axis.

For larger open areas, as the client device moves through the space, the blue dot follows the device along both the x and y-axis. This deployment allows for two-dimensional location tracking and the blue dot displays the device's approximate location.

Figure 3: Area Model. User position shown on Meridian map when three Beacons are nearby.

Deployment Considerations

Before installing the Aruba Beacons app, consider the items described in the following sections. The following factors should be considered when determining the placement of Beacons to ensure the performance required by your deployment.

Beacon Sizing

For location accuracy within 3-5 meters (approx. 6-15 feet), ensure that successive Beacons are placed no more than 10 meters (approx. 30 feet) apart. Closer Beacon placement provides the best indoor positioning experience by reducing blue dot jumpiness and higher level of accuracy. However, the optimal distance between Beacons may vary based on factors such as the deployment model, variations in ceiling height, reflective vs. non- reflective environments, etc.

The no-more-than-10-meter statement is a guideline and your actual deployment may differ. For example, a smaller distance between Beacons may be needed to provide better location accuracy. However, in larger open areas, a wider spread of Beacons might be sufficient.

Beacon Mounting

Battery-powered Beacons have multiple mounting options and techniques. The two most common mounting techniques are wall mounting and ceiling mounting. Three mounting options are available for battery-powered Beacons:

  • Adhesive on the back of the Beacon 

  • Indoor mounting bracket (useful for replacing Beacons in the future) 

  • Outdoor mounting enclosure 

The mounting brackets not only make replacing beacons easier, but they're also quicker to install since the brackets come with a single piece of adhesive, versus the 4 small pieces for a standalone beacon (that is, peeling 1 vs. 4 stickers is faster). You can see more on the mounts here.

Aruba Part Number HPE Part Number Description
LS-BT1-MNT-50 JW145A Indoor mounting bracket for battery powered Aruba Beacon - pack of 50 brackets
LS-BT1-NEMA JW144A Outdoor mounting bracket for battery powered Aruba Beacon and Aruba Tag

The options and techniques used in your deployment will depend on the factors described in the following sections.

Wall Mounting

Wall mounting can be used in open-roof areas or areas with very high ceilings where installation might be a challenge. Wall mounting is easier than ceiling mounting and all three mounting options are useable. However, the Beacons are more visible when mounted on the wall.

Ceiling Mounting

Ceiling mounting is ideal for environments with aesthetic concerns, because it allows Beacons to be installed discreetly and out of line of sight. Ceiling mounting also keeps Beacons out of reach from curious people and prevents tampering. Another benefit is that ceiling mounting provides more resiliency to attenuation from crowds.

Keep the following in mind when installing ceiling-mounted Beacons:

  • Ensure that Beacons are mounted away from heat generated by light bulbs.
  • Beacons must be mounted below ceiling tiles, as some types of tiles may impair Beacon signal transmission.
  • Ensure that the Beacon's power level is high enough for the client app to hear and configure the Beacon when necessary. NOTE: Only Proximity Beacons power levels can be adjusted.
  • For environments with different ceiling heights, ensure that Beacons are placed on the lower ceiling height to prevent the blocking of Beacon signals from different locations.
  • Ceiling mounting may require a personnel lift, mounting stick, or ladder. Take proper safety precautions when climbing to place Beacons.

Reflective Environments

Reflective environments, such as areas with marble floors, may result in jumpiness of the blue dot. Carpeted areas have shown better blue dot stability than areas with marble floors. In locations where reflective surfaces are unavoidable, consider using the path model instead of the area model.

Open Multi-Level Environments

"Open multi-level environments" refers to open indoor areas that extend through multiple floors.

Some examples are:

  • An open atrium or lobby on the first floor that is open to the floors above.
  • A stadium or auditorium with multiple seating levels
  • A shopping center or large venue with multiple floors that opens into a common area on a different floor.

For open multi-level environments, the user will have a more stable blue dot experience if Beacons are placed low or close to the ground. It’s best to avoid direct line of sight to Beacons on different floors.

Examples of where to place Beacons in this environment are:

  • Under seats. This helps to attenuate Beacon signals.
  • Below handrails. This localizes Beacon signals.
  • Face the front of the Beacon away from the open area. This will reduce Beacon signals going into the open space. The front of the Beacon is the side with the Aruba logo.

In summary, to minimize the signal bleed through open areas, place the Beacons low and direct the front of the Beacon away from the open area.