Drop Beacons

Dropped Beacons operate completely offline, and store their location on internal memory. A tracked person can write their location to the beacon using the drop beacon tool. Drop beacons share their location through the ranging message, rather than relying on the shared map data, which requires an internet connection to the NEON Cloud Service. Dropped Beacons immediately provide corrections to nearby users without requiring any internet connection.

A Dropped Beacon takes the user’s location and location uncertainty; if location uncertainty is too high then the beacon will not provide corrections. To work around this, users can check in before placing the beacon to reduce uncertainty. Dropped Beacons use the internal accelerometer to know when it moves so it adjusts the error bound accordingly and stops transmitting if it moves more than 10 meters.

Dropped beacons may be used to improve tracking accuracy when GPS is denied.

Note: Sharing mode must be enabled when using drop beacons.

Note: The drop beacon feature is only available when using a UWB Tracking Unit.

Share Mode

There are three sharing modes: Off, Subscription, and Custom.

Share Modes

The off mode does not share any data. The subscription mode shares data with all users in the subscription. The custom share mode will share data with anyone who is on the same channel and has a matching secret. Drop beacons are only available if the sharing mode is set to subscription or custom, and only affect location for others in the same share group.

To enable dropped beacons, set a share group, and then check the box in the settings screen to “Enable Dropped UWB Beacons”. This must be selected by the person dropping the beacon and by anyone who wants to range to the beacon to improve their accuracy.

Share Dropped Beacons

When the user selects the Drop Beacon button, they may choose to place with:

  1. NFC by simply touching the beacon to the phone to share beacon ID OR
  2. BLE Scan to scan for nearby beacons and select a beacon from the list.

For both methods, location information is sent to the beacon over BLE.

Keep beacons powered off until ready to drop or multiple beacons will show up in the drop UWB beacons field. If this happens, look at the serial number on the label of the physical beacon to determine which one to select and drop.

BLE Scan

BLE Scan

When programmed with a location, the LED will ‘fast blink’ green and a blue beacon icon will be displayed in Personnel Tracker.

The beacons will stop sharing if it is moved or power cycled. If this happens, the blue icons in Personnel Tracker will begin to blink.

To aid initialization or extended operation, ideally, drop three beacons around an area of interest. Passing near the three placed beacons will provide initialization and consistent tracking based on the UWB beacon corrections. The user does not have to remain within the range of the three beacons after initialization, although, any encountered additional dropped beacons will help maintain location accuracy.

The figure below shows three dropped beacons placed in an area for initialization.

Dropped Beacons

The best practice is to drop beacons every 100m or at key points (turns) when in GPS denied conditions for best tracking results.

Beacons have reduced battery life relative to trackers. A best practice is to use an external battery with dropped beacons to extend the battery life.