Low Power Consumption in Beacon Positioning Technology May 27, 2021

With the rapid development of indoor location technology and the gradual implementation of the related projects, the indoor location technology based on Beacon has matured step by step, thus, Beacon is widely used in indoor location service.

According to the survey data of Markets & Markets, the global indoor location market size to grow from USD 6.1 billion in 2020 to USD 17.0 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.5% during the forecast period. The major factors driving the growth of the indoor location market are the increased number of applications powered by beacons and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tags and growing integration of beacons in cameras; and Light Emitting Diode (LED) lightning, Point of Sales (PoS), and digital signage. The proliferation of smartphone connected devices and location-based applications is also expected to drive the market growth. 

North America is expected to hold the highest share in the global indoor location market, while Asia Pacific (APAC) is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The region is witnessing significant developments in the market. North America is projected to hold the largest market size during the forecast period. Key factors favoring the growth of the market in North America include the increasing investments in the development of various technologies and application of indoor location solutions. The growing number of indoor location players across regions is expected to drive the market growth further.

Asia-Pacific market will play an important role in driving the development of the global market, especially due to the rapid growth of China, India and Southeast Asian countries. In 2018, the market scale of China's indoor positioning was RMB 3.5 billion, an increase of 47.7% compared with 2017, with a compound annual growth rate of 39.3%. Business expansion based on data has become the most popular business model, especially the accumulation of economies of scale, which has gradually reduced the cost of positioning solutions. In particular, the cost advantages of positioning solutions based on Beacon technology have become more prominent, which also brings new opportunities for indoor positioning industry.

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The positioning accuracy of Beacon is 2 m ~ 3 m, which can basically meet the application needs of factory visitor tracking, indoor navigation of shopping mall, and anti-lost alarm of valuables. This kind of Beacon devices often have very high requirements for battery life. Let’s see how Beacon devices achieve a long battery life as follows.

Beacon device has the advantages of ultra-low power consumption and low cost. Achieving better positioning accuracy needs large numbers of Beacon devices deployed in the sites. Most Beacon solutions on the market are used coin cell CR2032, because CR2032 can ensure small size and low cost. However, the capacity of CR2032 is only 240 mAh. The battery needs to be replaced frequently during use, which will obviously increase the workload. Therefore, battery life is a decisive factor of measuring the performance of Beacon devices.

In real usage scenarios, battery life will be affected by many parameters such as discharge current, temperature, humidity, self-discharge, etc. In theory, the actual battery capacity is only 80% of the nominal capacity at most. Combined with the battery discharge curve, the theoretical battery life of a Beacon can be calculated by dividing the nominal battery capacity by the average current during broadcasting, and then multiplying by 0.8. According to the actual situation, the theoretical value obtained at this time may be slightly different due to different battery manufacturers. You can estimate the battery life by multiplying the relevant loss ratio according to the specific situation.

The following example illustrates the calculation process: using CR2032 with 240 mAh capacity, removing 20% capacity loss, the remaining capacity is about 190 mAh. Set the broadcast interval to 1000 ms and the Tx power to 0 dBm. At this time, the average current of the Beacon RF-B-AR1 of RF-star is 6.8 μA. According to the above calculation method, the service life of the battery can be up to 2 years. Under the same broadcast interval and transmit power conditions, the service life of other manufacturers' Beacon is about one year. Using the CR2477 with 1000 mAh capacity, with the same calculation method, RF-star beacon products can last up to 10 years, and other manufacturers are 3 years.

At the same time, the excellent antenna design can achieve the wider coverage of RF-star RF-B-AR1. The range that RF-star RF-B-AR1 can reach at 0 dBm Tx power may need 4 dBm to cover for other manufacturers. Therefore, the power consumption will be doubled, and the battery life will decrease even fall by a half.

Beacon’s low power consumption feature can guarantee the excellent service life with a small capacity battery. How to verify this low power consumption? We choose RF-star RF-B-AR1 to do the tests, set different broadcast intervals, and measure the power consumption in different broadcast modes.

The following is the measured results:

It can be seen from the test results that the sleep power consumption of RF-B-AR1 is less than 3 μA, and the power consumption is very low. The rest of the power consumption in the working state is also maintained at the μA level. And the overall power consumption is very good.

When the transmit power is 0 dBm and the broadcast interval is 500 ms, the average current is 11 μA. Compared with other manufacturers under the same test conditions, the average current is as high as 40 μA. Therefore, RF-B-AR1 has a great advantage in power consumption.

Beacons from different manufacturers have advantages and disadvantages in power consumption, and it will be reflected in the service life. The power consumption of Beacon will change according to the different broadcast intervals and Tx power. For example, if the broadcast interval is set to 100 ms and 1 s, and the Tx power is 0 dBm and 4 dBm, which may cause a large gap level of power consumption.

Many manufacturers on the market claim that their Beacon service life can be as long as 3 years or even 5 years. For CR2032, can it reach that long time? The service life can never be calculated by simple division. When the coin cell is under discharge, it will no longer discharge after the actual voltage is lower than the limit voltage. What's more, the Beacon requires a certain voltage to work normally, and the battery itself will discharge. According to the working mode of (0 dBm, 1000 ms), the RF-star RF-B-AR1 has an average current of 6.8 μA. Combined with the actual measurement of the battery discharge curve, the service life of RF-B-AR1 can reach 2 years.

Even if large numbers of Beacon devices are deployed, a Beacon with such an excellent battery life can guarantee a longer service life without battery replacement, thus, the overall costs are saved. The following is a comparison of the battery life of Beacon devices from RF-star and other manufacturers:

Beacon can meet different application functions by setting key parameters such as UUID. The quality of the Beacon configuration APP on the market is difficult to guarantee. Some are with poor user experience, and some can only set few parameters.

To optimize the user experience of the Beacon configuration APP and configure more abundant Beacon parameters, RF-star Technology integrated the industry's excellent R & D strength and independently developed and launched beacon configuration APP Beaconsetting, which realizes the efficient and fast configuration of Beacon / Eddystone data parameters and promotes the application of indoor location service.

The Beaconsetting APP contains the following functions:

1.Basic device parameters: device name, signal strength, UUID, and other key broadcast parameters of surrounding Beacon devices.

2. Set device parameters.


3. Choose advertising format: Beacon, Eddystone

4.      Set advanced parameters: set connectable or unconnectable mode, Tx power, password.


5. Intelligent filter: intelligent filter based on name and MAC address.

There are uncountable Beacon application cases in the market, and various technical information about Beacon can be searched online. Looking around the world, the huge application demands of Beacon technology have attracted more and more manufacturers to invest in research and development. RF-star Technology has played a role as a pioneer in the IoT industry. The advantages of RF-B-AR1, such as simple operation, complete supporting tools, visual configuration parameters, and extremely easy usage, help customers shorten the project schedule and make the product enter the market quickly. At present, the domestic Beacon applications are becoming more and more mature, and the overall indoor location industry chain is going to the improvement. Relying on the advantages of low power consumption and low-cost Beacon, RF-star Technology has opened a broad prospect for indoor location applications.

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