“Beacons are a core building block of the Internet of Things and the wider trend towards making everyday objects smart,” comments Nordic Semiconductor Technical Product Manager, Reidar Martin Svendsen. “Security and privacy has been a concern with today’s beacon formats. The new Eddystone-EID opens up new possibilities to use beacons in sensitive applications where the data obtained could be used maliciously.
Today Google announced a new secure version of its Eddystone™ beacon format – Eddystone-EID – and Nordic Semiconductor has simultaneously announced full software development kit (SDK) and supporting tools in parallel to this.
Like Eddystone, Eddystone-EID is capable of working across Android and iOS devices. It is now designed to protect user privacy and security in sensitive applications by broadcasting secure beacon signals. The features also cover website address URLs, using what’s termed a ‘rotating ephemeral identifier’. This functionality allows Eddystone-EID beacon manufacturers to manage access to beacons and avoid unknown or non-permitted access. This acts as a guard against various potential types of malicious attack to which beacons can be prone including spoofing, malicious asset tracking, and replay attacks.
The Nordic Semiconductor ‘nRF5 SDK for Eddystone’ is available and allows the immediate development of Eddystone-EID beacons. Now experience the real-world potential of a variety of proximity-based beacon applications. The Nordic nRF5 SDK for Eddystone also features a GATT configuration that allows Eddystone beacons to be configured from a smartphone.
The SDK is designed for Nordic’s latest nRF52832 / nRF52 Series Bluetooth® Smart Systems-on-Chips (SoCs). A future upgrade will also allow existing Nordic nRF51 Series or nRF52832-based Eddystone beacons to be updated to the latest Eddystone-EID secure capabilities via a straightforward over-the-air firmware update.
In addition, the new ability of the Eddystone beacon format to broadcast URLs opens up endless opportunities. A simple example would be giving advertising posters the ability to broadcast a relevant web address to smartphones nearby to make it very easy for anyone interested to find out more about the advertised product or service without having to download an app first.
“This kind of app-free, interaction-on-demand service would be applicable to almost any kind of device or ‘thing’ that would benefit from being made ‘smarter’ including vending machines, public information points, tourist attractions, toys, bus stops, and parking meters. In fact the potential application list is vast and will only grow over time.”