Trying the Physical Web for iOS with WiBeat BLE Beacons

Do you believe that street objects, museum collections, or exhibition booths can 'speak to you' via your smart device? Or that smartphone can help us interact with our immediate surroundings? Did you also know that you don't need to install an extra mobile app for that?

Several years ago Google launched the Physical Web, a Google Chrome open source project to help people discover the world around them. What Physical Web does - it enables smartphone users to see an URL leading to a web page with an advertising or informational content, which was broadcasted by a nearby BLE beacon.

How Physical Web Works for iOS

Testing of this scenario on an iOS device is quite simple since it does not require any dedicated mobile application (only Google Chrome).

To start the evaluation, please:

  1. Choose a set of WiBeat BLE beacons (see Proximity Demo Kit) which supports Eddystone protocol specifications.
  2. Configure Eddystone-URL parameters.
  3. Note that Eddystone-URL supports HTTPS communications protocol only.

Eddystone-URL - is a Google Eddystone frame which allows transmission of a link (URL) to an iOS or Android smart device (learn more about Proximity Technologies).

In order for an URL to be displayed in the iOS widget, a user has to:

  1. Make sure that you have a Chrome browser on your iOS device
  2. Add Chrome to Widgets (today view)
  3. Turn Bluetooth on
  4. Move Chrome widget to be displayed first

As a result, every time you approach the pre-configured for Eddystone-URL use beacon, you will see a notification with an advertised link.


Physical Web Use Cases - Smart City

The list of use cases for Physical Web application is enormous. Exhibitions, museums, amusement parks are only some of the venues which possess great potential for this solution.

However, let's take a closer look at a Smart City concept, where the technologies are used to optimize asset management and enhance comfort levels for both city residents and guests.

  • City Sights - a tourist coming to a city for the first time will be impressed by an opportunity to read about the history of a certain statue, building, or another piece of architecture.
  • Public Transport Services - having a beacon installed at a bus stop allows passengers to seamlessly access an online bus schedule and decide whether they want to wait, or use another type of public transport instead.
  • Parking Meter - equipping a parking meter with a beacon which broadcasts a link to an online payment system will save drivers' time and provide positive experience.

The Physical Web gave us tools to fulfill any content- and location-related idea. So, now it is our turn to drive adoption of the technology in everyday's life and share information about the benefits we get.

May 10, 2017
Olga Rusnak, Head of Marketing