TOPIA: BUILDING A FUTURE WE CAN’T YET SEE
24
Jun
TOPIA: BUILDING A FUTURE WE CAN’T YET SEE
  June 24th 2017 by THOMAS KURZ

TOPIA: BUILDING A FUTURE WE CAN’T YET SEE

For TOPIA we turned our office into a speculative design lab, opened our gates for top talents from the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences and reengineered the future.

Corporate Fitness: Solved Forever
10
Oct
Corporate Fitness: Solved Forever
  October 10th 2016 by Michael John

Corporate Fitness: Solved Forever

With our new myClubs #loopsweat corporate fitness program, our team gets free access to 25 different sports, fitness and yoga studios in Salzburg and over 400 studios across Austria, all on us.

Brand Filters on Snapchat
25
Apr
Brand Filters on Snapchat
  April 25th 2016 by Anna-Maria Cornely

Brand Filters on Snapchat

239.623 brand impressions in 8 hours for just $15,58? No one seems to understand the needs of brands and users better than Snapchat at this point.

Beacons on the test bench
30
Jan
Beacons on the test bench
  January 30th 2016 by Thomas Kurz

Beacons on the test bench

We've carried out extensive tests with beacon technology hardware that supportet both, the iBeacon™ protocol by Apple and Eddystone™ protocol by Google.

Behind the scenes of one tweet
15
Dec
Behind the scenes of one tweet
  December 15th 2015 by Catherine Shanley

Behind the scenes of one tweet

Our challenge in today's hyper-connected, fast, socially addicted world? Giving users real time content they can relate to in the moment when it matters most to them.

LOOPTOBERFEST 2015
21
Oct
LOOPTOBERFEST 2015
  October 21st 2015 by Roi Reis

LOOPTOBERFEST 2015

All I know about Oktoberfest is that there is a lot of beer involved. LOOPtoberfest was no different. Except we had giant inflatable sausages and pretzels.

New York Advertising Week 2015
13
Oct
New York Advertising Week 2015
  October 13th 2015 by Elizma Benade

New York Advertising Week 2015

From September 28 to October 1, 2015, we went to Times Square to hear how advertising as we know it is finally dead. And we couldn’t be happier.

So yeah, we finally tried Slack too.
16
Sep
So yeah, we finally tried Slack too.
  September 16th 2015 by Michael John

So yeah, we finally tried Slack too.

Within just 48 hours we changed the complete team communication of 85 people in 5 different locations across the globe to Slack – here’s why.

Awwwards Interview with LOOP
21
Jun
Awwwards Interview with LOOP
  June 21st 2014 by Michael John

Awwwards Interview with LOOP

The team from Awwwards held a series of behind-the-scenes interviews, to get an insider’s look at the inner workings and motivations of some of world’s top agencies, leading the future of web design. LOOP was also asked to share some insight.

LOOP at Apple's WWDC14
15
Jun
LOOP at Apple's WWDC14
  June 15th 2014 by Hannes Jung

LOOP at Apple's WWDC14

An exclusive sneak peek into our week in San Francisco and an insight into the super valuable knowledge that we gained from all of the sessions and labs at Apple's WWDC 14.

Into the Wild at RE:PUBLICA 14
19
May
Into the Wild at RE:PUBLICA 14
  May 19th 2014 by Roxy Zankel

Into the Wild at RE:PUBLICA 14

Our key findings of 3 days at Re:publica: Wearing a mask makes you famous for 15 minutes, have a profound social strategy when breaking up with your partner and not everything that‘s new will blow your mind.

How to run a successful app launch campaign
25
Apr
How to run a successful app launch campaign
  April 25th 2014 by Roxy Zankel

How to run a successful app launch campaign

In today’s bottomless pit of app innovations you can’t solely rely on the quality of your app to attract users. So how do you tell the world, that you have something to offer that might blow their minds?

Must Reads! Volume 5
20
Apr
Must Reads! Volume 5
  April 20th 2014 by Michael John

Must Reads! Volume 5

Why shipping constantly is important, thoughts on crashing apps and breaking Twitter, a recipe for high end disruption and the story about the first 10 Apple employees.

Must Reads! Volume 4
15
Nov
Must Reads! Volume 4
  November 15th 2013 by Michael John

Must Reads! Volume 4

The difference between complexity and complication, thoughts on designing user experience for touchscreens, basic strategy for digital innovation and why we should simplify the idea of big data.

Must Reads! Volume 3
15
Aug
Must Reads! Volume 3
  August 15th 2013 by Michael John

Must Reads! Volume 3

A great interview for the digitally inclined, why agencies should make things people actually want, the difference between beeing in motion vs. taking action and some horrifying facts about display advertising.

The idea behind LOOP’s Sunny Hours
03
Jul
The idea behind LOOP’s Sunny Hours
  July 3rd 2013 by Michael John

The idea behind LOOP’s Sunny Hours

At LOOP, everyone in the team gets half a day off every week during the summer season over a period of 10 weeks. As a result, our team gets to enjoy the sun, the lakes or few extra hours of sleep once a week!

Must Reads! Volume 2
01
Jul
Must Reads! Volume 2
  July 1st 2013 by Michael John

Must Reads! Volume 2

A wake-up call marking the end of advertising as we know it, good thoughts about the metrics of launching a product, a reminder that customers are actually human beings and a teenager that rickrolled Vine.

Technical aspects behind the PUMA Speed Trap
12
Jun
Technical aspects behind the PUMA Speed Trap
  June 12th 2013 by Hannes Jung

Technical aspects behind the PUMA Speed Trap

A look behind the scenes of the PUMA Speed Trap project, an interactive social connected experience for running enthusiasts we developed about one year ago.

Must Reads! Volume 1
10
Jun
Must Reads! Volume 1
  June 10th 2013 by Michael John

Must Reads! Volume 1

An imaginary astronaut spending $1.37 million on Instagram, the “Lean” meeting principles, the future of responsive digital layout by Adobe and Duane Bray on creating great digital experiences.

How much did LOOP's new website cost?
08
Jun
How much did LOOP's new website cost?
  June 8th 2013 by Michael John

How much did LOOP's new website cost?

Every now and then we get asked, "How much does a website cost?" and well, that's not easy to answer as every website entails a different scope of work. To get an idea about the efforts behind a web-project, we decided to reveal the hours spent on our all-new agency website.

Why we started LOOP.LABS
01
Jun
Why we started LOOP.LABS
  June 1st 2013 by Michael John

Why we started LOOP.LABS

We have been thinking about starting our own space for ideas and thoughts for a while now. The reasoning for this is simple. Our agency is staffed with brilliant minds and therefore, we want to have a space to share ideas, experiments and some behind the scenes insights.

go back to labs
  January 30th 2016 by Thomas Kurz

Beacons on the test bench

In the last years, new stars where jutting out of the technology sea: the Beacons. Hardware was produced, software coded, protocols developed and the light of Bluetooth technology seemed to shine brighter than ever before. With the introduction of the iBeacon™ protocol by Apple in 2013 and the open beacon format Eddystone™ by Google in 2015, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology received an extra push forward.

HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?

At the first glance, beacons are not much different compared to other technologies. Active Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) has been used in industry to track products for years. Near Field Communication (NFC) already enables electronic devices to communicate with each other, facilitating payment services and ticketing systems.

Beacons on the test bench

Nevertheless, brushing all the hype aside, beacon technology has clear advantages that generate a whole new set of use cases for the first time. In contrast to active RFID, beacons do not need special reader devices, because beacons are operating on Bluetooth. Almost all mobile phones include a Bluetooth interface out of the box. Compared to NFC, beacons can communicate with mobile phones on much longer distances. Whereas NFC is operating only if a reader is as close as 10 cm to a NFC chip, beacons can reach 100 meter and more. Additionally, beacons were promoted to enable indoor localization and therefore solve the problem of non available Global Positioning System (GPS) service within buildings. All that sounds pretty awesome so far and the specs of various vendors sound like beacons could light the path of believers to a rich harbor full of profitable applications. The remaining question is: Does this actually work?

DOES IT REALLY WORK?

Besides the specifications and tests by beacon vendors, it is rare to find independent, in-depth tests on beacon technology. Also the prices of beacons vary between around 5 and 50 Euros per unit and so it is even harder to tell which of the existing technologies are the best fit to a specific need.

As there were no suitable tests available, LOOP was extending its cooperation with the Information Technology & Systems Management program at the University of Applied Sciences in Salzburg. David Gschaider and Mike Thomas carried out extensive tests with us. The tested hardware solutions, supported both, the iBeacon™ protocol by Apple and Eddystone™ protocol by Google.

Here some facts to show what we found, when testing beacons by estimote.com, kontakt.io as well as minewtech.com. For the following tests, we used the iBeacon protocol. Heads-up, the specifications considerably deviate from the observed behavior and experience is needed to reveal the real benefits. According to the vendors, the accuracy parameter should indicate the distance between the beacon and the reader – in our case an iPhone 6 Plus. In the first test, the beacons of all three vendors were configured with a standard configuration (signal-power = +4dB and signal-intervall = 200ms). The diagram below, shows the measured distance compared to the actual distance in a standard configuration. It indicates that the measured accuracy parameters deviate considerably from the gradually increased, actual distance of 0.5, 1, 2, 5 and 10 meters. The noise in the measured signal most probably is one main reason of the immaturity of beacon based indoor localization systems at the moment. Surprisingly, the beacons by minewtech.com performed much better in this test than the other two products - although minewtech.com beacons are four times cheaper than comparable beacons by estimate.com or kontakt.io. The documentation by minewtech.com was sufficient and the support very responsive.

Beacons on the test bench

After these first tests, we played around with other configurations and test scenarios. High-power configurations (signal-power = -12dB and signal-intervall = 200ms) were tested. By increasing the signal power, the beacons increased their range at a cost of shorter life-time. However, the more powerful signal did not increase the accuracy of the previously shown distance measurements. 

We also changed environmental conditions and mountings. Turning a beacon 90 degrees as well as positioning beacons in a room with a glass panels resulted in considerable changes in the measured transmissions. Further, we wanted to know, until which speed, the reader device could recognize a beacon. In our tests, the iPhone received signals from kontakt.io as well as minewtech.com beacons, up to a speed of 80 km/h.

THERE'S A SYSTEM FOR EVERY USECASE

You might want to have an easy takeaway? Sorry, there is nothing like an easy - that’s the system you should use for use case one, two, three. The table below sums up the key specs of the beacons, we used in our recent tests. Keeping all our tests in mind, the winner of this comparison is clearly the i3-Robust Beacon by minewtech.com. Frankly speaking, we could not identify anything that really justifies the price difference. Estimote.com as well as kontakt.io have a much nicer website and also the beacon housing is fancier, but in terms of functionality, documentation and support, minewtech.com is an equal opponent at a much cheaper price. We also tested USB powered mini beacons (20 x 12 x 8 mm) by minewtech.com, but that’s another story. 

Beacons on the test bench

SO, WHAT'S THE INSIGHT

  • When it comes to the actual environment where you’re using beacons, lots of external factors count. Glass walls, corners and room shapes have a bigger impact on the beacon functionalities than expected.
  • For accurate indoor location tracking and to create indoor movement heatmaps, there are better technologies than beacons. The signal is too unreliable for accurate tracking. However, to get a rough idea where mobile users are located, e.g. when dividing your space into sections or when tagging specific elements indoors to trigger mobile actions, beacons are a perfect choice.
  • What really surprised us was the signal strength of some of the beacon brands. Especially minewtech.com beacons showed great results. We even passed by with a car and 80 km/h and the beacon signal still triggered our prototypes push notification.
Thomas Kurz

About Thomas Kurz

Technology and Innovation Consultant at LOOP. Working at the University of Applied Sciences before joining LOOP, Thomas brings a strong sense for upcoming technologies, tech innovation and system architectures.