The number of beacon manufacturers is increasing rapidly. We have gathered a list of the 9 biggest manufacturers that you need to consider if you are planning a Beacon based app development project.
All the hardware manufacturers are 3rd parties and this is important to keep in mind. Because Apple recently announced that manufacturers will need a license to build beacons for iOS products. This license falls under the MFi Pogram and this means that beacons that have this license are compatible with iOS devices.
BlueCats, is made by the Australian firm Plus Location Systems. The cat-shaped beacons have two AA batteries that are easily replaceable and the mounting plate makes it easy to connect them to the wall. The SDK and Data analysis also sound very promising and this is definitely one of the players to remember for the coming months.
Shipping: Yes, Starterpack
BlueSense provides complete retail beacons as well as integration kits. The integration kits can be interesting if you want to place the beacons behind paintings for example. They are still working on the SDK but you can already buy the beacons.
Price; Integration kit £24,99 Retail kit £29.99
Estimote is the largest and most well-known beacon manufacturer, already more than 10.000 developer kits have been distributed, we also have one of the kits in our Danish office.
Although there are some problems with the estimote beacon, they are growing very fast and the expectations are that they will become the leading beacon manufacturer.
Price: Developer preview kit (3 Beacons) $99
Gelo is the most solid all-weather beacon available at the moment. They already have some interesting projects with beacons on their website. They already have a working Gelo SDK compatible model but the Apple iBeacon compatible version will arrive this summer.
Price: Standard (2 Beacons$69)
Glimworm beacons are nicely designed and can be rebranded and the code is open source. They are already shipping their 3D printed beacons. On the website they say that: ‘We are ordering our first 3000 injection molded glossy cases this month and expect to ship in April’’ They are trying to create some scale by offering packages of up to 400 beacons for $9,900.
Price: 3D printed version $50
6. Gimbal by Qualcomm
Qualcomm is the only big hardware company that has decided to move into beacon manufacturing. The Gimbals range is 50 meters but the battery only has a life time of 2-3 months. Gimbal Manager seems like a solid set of API’s and a web-based tool for managing different functionalities. The only downturn to the Gimbal is the business model because you will have to pay a per-user fee. This can get pretty expensive if you plan to equip a football stadium or museum with beacons.
Price: Standard £3
Shipping: Yes (only for developers)
Kontakt is the favorite if the people at Beekn a blog fully dedicated to beacons. The beacons are nicely designed and they can be customized with your own brand and colour. They also have an extensive back-end and CMS.
Price: Standard (5 Beacons set) $135
Sensorberg manufacturers so-called mini beacons that have a range of 30 meters. This makes them suitable for places where many beacons have to be placed in close proximity to each other such as a Supermarket. Sensorberg promises a real out of the box experience and it should only take you 5 minutes to integrate it into your existing app.
Price: Starter Kit (3 Beacons set) £89.99
9. Sonic Notify
Sonic Notify is compatible with more than just iOS7 phones because of its combination with audio technology. This means that 95% of the smartphones are compatible with their beacons.
Price: 1 Beacon $30
It is going to be interesting to see who are going to be the leading hardware manufacturers and what their business model will be. Another important element to keep in mind is the MFi program this could influence the price of beacons but also the number of manufacturers.