Physical Web and Eddystone

Imgur

So I got this cool Eddystone from Kim (and he got that from Progressive Web App Dev Summit 2016 anyway). Basically that's a beacon that broadcast a URL every 700ms (in my case).

https://twitter.com/henrylim96
https://twitter.com/henrylim96
https://twitter.com/henrylim96
https://twitter.com/henrylim96
https://twitter.com/henrylim96
......

^ so technically that's is what the beacon doing right now. The Eddystone is broadcasting my Twitter profile to its surrounding every 700ms.

Now what? How do I "see" the URL? You need bluetooth. That's it. Of course, you need an Android devices or iOS devices with Google Chrome installed to actually "see" the URL.

How to enable Physical Web

Android (Android 4.3.2 or higher) :

  1. Enable Bluetooth and Location
  2. Open Google Chrome
  3. Go to Settings > Privacy > Physical Web > On

iOS (iOS 8.0 or higher) :

  1. Enable Bluetooth
  2. Swipe down from the very top of your screen.
  3. From the upper left corner, choose Today.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom and touch Edit.
  5. From the list of apps, choose Chrome, then click Done.
  6. Enable physical web by tapping "Ok, got it"

The next time you near any Physical Web, you will receive an notification (it won't ring/vibrate your device) on your notification panel. That's it. Simple right? :)

Alright. Now you can find Physical Web just like how you play Pokemon Go (nah, just kidding).

Let say you have that Eddystone (see the picture above), how do you set it up? It's quite simple actually (works on Mac, Linux, Chrome OS and Android only):

  1. Enable Bluetooth (obviously!)
  2. Open Chrome and go to chrome://flags and enable "Web Bluetooth"
  3. Relaunch the browser
  4. Go to cf.physical-web.org
  5. Turn on your eddystone (the blue LED should start to blink, see note below)
  6. Click the search icon, then choose your beacon from the dialog.
  7. UPDATE URL!!!

NOTE: How to switch to config mode (For beacon from #io16 and #pwadevsummit):

  1. Turn on the beacon by pressing the power button
  2. The blue LED will start to blink for around 30 secs, and the beacon is now in config mode
  3. After around 30 secs, the LED will automatically switch off and the config mode is now off

IMO,beacon is something magically. That tiny piece of technology, thanks to BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), the battery actually can lasts for 1-2 years. In other word, the beacon will keep broadcasting the URL for 1-2 years.

Physical Web is not going to do something very complex or powerful. It's just another brilliant way for you to approach to physical objects and location (like bus stop, vending machine, movie poster, etc.) quickly and seamlessly.

This technology is very cool. But there is one major problem: no one actually switch on their Bluetooth (see: update). Maybe it's time problem? Physical Web is still very new technology anyway.

UPDATE:
" we've done a few local studies and in US/Europe >50% of users have BT turned on. (It's a myth it's a battery hog). BT headsets/speakers/car stereo is on the rise, leading to higher usage. New BT chipsets are MUCH more efficient than before" - @ThePhysicalWeb

The tweet from @ThePhysicalWeb is quite interesting for me actually. Let say they did switch on their Bluetooth, but I think most of them are are not aware of Physical Web. Maybe time for us to put some poster/banner/guide/tips or other methods to remind them or to teach them how to enable Physical Web on their phone?

Read more: https://google.github.io/physical-web/

Any questions? Find me on Twitter!