Proximity Services

Proximity Services

Meridian Proximity Services is a mobile engagement solution for enabling an app to initiate a location specific action on a mobile device app when it comes into range of a proximity beacon.  Proximity services can be used to pop up a message on the mobile device or send data to a service endpoint or server.

Proximity and Push Notification

The Meridian solution is a proximity notification solution because it relies on an app on the mobile device to initiate the action. Whereas, a push notification is a server-initiated action, regardless of the location of the mobile device. 
Proximity or push notifications provide convenience and value to the app users, but they serve different purposes.  Below are a few examples of push/proximity notifications a user can receive on their mobile device:

Passive and Active Campaigns
Messages displayed on a mobile device is the result of a campaign. A campaign contains information about the beacons that are used to trigger it and the action it needs to take.  A campaign can be triggered when the mobile device hears the beacon (on enter, inside region) or stops hearing the beacon (on exit, outside region).  The beacon transmits power level is used to determine at what distance to trigger the campaign.   
Here are the main components of a campaign: 

Meridian employs two different campaign event triggering techniques to ensure support for a wide range of use cases.  The two types of triggers are:

Passive Campaigns 

Passive campaigns operate using Monitoring mode.  When Monitoring, actions triggered on entering/exiting region's range (inside region, outside region).  This works no matter if the app is running, suspended, or killed (on iOS platforms, if the app is not running when an enter/exit event occurs, iOS will launch the app into the background for a few seconds to handle the event).
The campaign will trigger an enter event immediately when it first hears the beacon.  When it stops hearing the beacon for 30 seconds or more, it will trigger an exit event.  This 30-second delay is intended to avoid false negatives. 

Active Campaigns

For more in-depth recommendations and best practices for using Active Campaigns, please read our Deployment article  here.
Active campaigns operate using Ranging mode.  When Ranging, events are triggered based on the proximity to a specific beacon and will only work when the apps are running.  (e.g., the app is displayed on the mobile device screen, or it is running in the background in response to a monitoring event.)
After the mobile device hears the beacon, it will launch the app and wait until the mobile device is within a specific range to the beacon before it will trigger an event.   On iOS platforms, if the device hears the beacon but does not reach the trigger region in less than 160 seconds, the app will shut down. This 160 second time-out period is a battery saving tactic that is built into the iOS platform.  This is not customization.  Whereas, Android platforms do not time-out and will continue Ranging until the device reaches the trigger region or stops hearing the beacon.  
NOTE:  It's important to remember that Monitoring allows you to scan for beacon region, while Ranging is for interacting with individual beacons

Below is a summary Passive Campaigns compared to Active Campaigns:

To determine the user's location for blue dot wayfinding, all beacons had to be placed on a Meridian map.  However, to send a notification to the user doesn't necessarily require knowing the user's location, it just needs to know if the user is near a beacon.  Hence, Meridian offers proximity services concurrent with wayfinding (with a Meridian map) or stand-alone (without a Meridian map). Meridian beacons can be configured as either a Location beacon or a Proximity beacon.  

The following chart illustrates the Meridian features as it relates to map requirements:

Proximity services without a Meridian Map - sometimes called, "Mapless" - utilize a different workflow to configure the beacon. If a Meridian map is not available, configuring the proximity beacon will require that a campaign must first be created and the beacon is added to the campaign.  In Beacons app, a mapless beacon cannot be configured without a Campaign ID.  
HINT: 'mapless beacon' or 'mapless campaign' are used in reference to Meridian accounts that do not use Meridian maps.
NOTE: If there is a map available, you can configure the proximity beacon at any time.  It doesn't matter if the campaign was created first or the beacon was configured first. But if there is no map, the campaign must be created before a mapless beacon can be configured.  

Below is a table showing the SKU requirements for the different use cases:

The following is a scenario where a mapless beacon solution will be best suited: 

A national coffee boutique with 120 retail shops nationwide wants to advertise an on-premise promotion to customers when they visit the shop. Each retail shop is only approximate 2,500 sq. ft. 
In this example, wayfinding and the blue dot is not necessary because it is a relatively small space, therefore no map is needed.  However, beacons are needed to trigger the campaign to deliver a message to the mobile device. Hence, a mapless beacon and mapless campaigns will be used to send proximity notifications.

Beacon Power Level and RSSI

Unlike beacons configured for Location Services, which are pre-set to a fixed signal transmit power level, beacons configured for Proximity Services have three power levels to choose from: High / Medium / Low.  The power level refers to the beacon broadcasting power or transmits power.  This is the power at which the beacon broadcast its signal.   These power levels can be set at the time the proximity beacon was configured or at any later time using Beacons app or Meridian Editor.  Making the changes to the beacon can be done on Beacons app or Meridian Editor.   Making configuration changes to the beacons in Meridian Editor is only available if Beacons Management is enabled and properly configured.  
The Power Level directly impacts the signal range.  The more power, the longer the range.  Increasing the power can also make the signal more stable, but it will also have a negative effect on battery life.  
TECH-TALK: The beacon's range is technically up to 70 meters for Proximity Beacons.  In real-world conditions, however, you should expect up to 40-50 meters.
On the mobile device, the beacon's signal is seen as the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI).  RSSI is used to approximate the distance between the mobile device and the beacon using the Measured Power.
Due to external factors influencing radio waves ' such as absorption, interference, or diffraction ' RSSI tends to fluctuate.  The farther away the device is from the beacon, the more unstable RSSI becomes.
Measured Power. Measured Power is a factory-calibrated, read-only constant which indicates the expected RSSI at a distance of 1 meter to the beacon.    Combined with RSSI, it allows you to estimate the distance between the device and the beacon. 

Campaign Limitations

The Meridian solution follows the Apple iBeacon solution and therefore must adhere to app development constraints specified by Apple.  Apple has integrated much of the beacon functionality into the IOS and has specified that an app is limited to 20 regions that IOS can monitor for at any given time.  With the Meridian solution, a region could be any combination of UUID/Major/Minor or UUID/Major.  As such, the Meridian solution is designed with the following limitations to make sure we can deliver on the majority of customer requirements:

Note: In mapless, one beacon cannot be linked to more than one campaign.  Although, one campaign can be linked to more than one beacon.

Creating the Campaign

Whether there is a map or not, a good place to start when deciding on the use of proximity services is to determine if the proximity notification is for long or short-range engagement.  The range will determine the beacon transmit power level and the beacon triggering type. 

Tools for Creating/Managing Campaigns

Creating and managing a campaign can be done using either Meridian Editor or Beacons app.  Managing beacons using Meridian Editor console is only possible if beacons management is enabled and configured properly.

Using Meridian Editor to Create a Campaign

This section provides step-by-step instructions for creating a new campaign using Meridian Editor:

Configurations available in creating a campaign are:

ENABLE  A campaign is enabled by default, but the campaign will not trigger an event without a linked beacon.  Uncheck the box the disable.

NAME  Enter a user-friendly name to identify the campaign.
TYPE
  • Passive.  Use this setting for proximity notifications between 2m ' 10m.    This is the default setting. 
  • Active.  Use this setting for proximity notifications less than 3m. 

TRIGGER

On Enter.  
  • Passive: the event occurs immediately when the device first hears a beacon.
  • Active: the event occurs when device hears a beacon AND reaches the active trigger region.
On Exit.  
  • Passive: the event occurs 30 seconds after the device stops hearing a beacon.
  • Active: the event occurs after the device has left the active trigger region for at least 30 seconds or more
COOLDOWN
Cooldown refers to how long until the same message can be delivered to the device.  For example, if set to default 12 Hours, the message will not be displayed on that device for the next 12 hours, no matter how many times it hears the beacon linked to the campaign.  Available options are pre-defined to: 1 Hour, 3 Hours, 6 Hours, 12 Hours(default), 1 Day, 3 Days, 1 Week.
ACTION
  • Send device a message.  Uses Meridian proximity services to display a message on mobile device.
  • Notify a custom endpoint.  Send campaign data to a third-party server.
BROADCAST
  • Always.  Trigger campaign all the time.
  • Schedule.  Trigger campaign only during the specified time.
To create a new campaign
  1. Log in to Meridian Editor account 
  2. Click CAMPAIGNS feature on the left-side menu bar.
  3. Click Add+ button on top right-side menu bar.
  4. Make configuration changes as desired.
  5. Click SAVE.