ESPHome Will Soon Track iBeacon Devices (Beacons)

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A night scene showing a lit lighthouse beacon shining brightly against the dark sky. The light source is at the top of the lighthouse and is casting rays of light into the surrounding darkness. Stars are faintly visible in the sky, adding to the tranquillity of the scene. The perspective is from the base of the lighthouse looking up, emphasizing its height and the beacon's role as a navigational aid.

As recently hinted by Home Assistant developers on social media, the integration of ESPHome with iBeacon devices through ESP32's Bluetooth capabilities is on the horizon. This development could revolutionize presence tracking at a room level, aligning with speculative insights shared just yesterday about potential announcements from the Home Assistant team (Home Assistant Turns Eight: Anticipated Developments). With a recent pull request merged into ESPHome's development branch, this feature now seems more plausible than ever (See ESPHome Pull Request).

Could next week's announcement detail this exciting feature? Whether speculative or imminent, the support for iBeacon device tracking is a promising addition to the ESPHome toolkit, setting the stage for reliable, easy-to-implement room level tracking.


Understanding iBeacon Devices

iBeacon, developed by Apple and introduced at their Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013, utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for proximity sensing (Learn More). These devices broadcast a unique identifier to nearby BLE-capable devices, effectively announcing their presence within a range of up to 30 meters—although this can vary due to environmental factors.

Modern smartphones can double as iBeacon devices, with functionalities embedded within apps like the Home Assistant companion app for Android. Additionally, iBeacon tags are small, battery-powered trackers available on platforms like AliExpress or Amazon, typically powered by cost-effective chips such as the nRF51822 from Nordic Semiconductor.

Why iBeacon Tracking in ESPHome Matters

The upcoming ability to track iBeacon devices with ESPHome is, in my opinion, a major development. Yes, there are other ways of tracking your smartphone and tags, such as room-assistant and ESPresense, but they generally do only one thing. With ESPresense, your ESP32 board will only be tracking iBeacon and other BLE devices, there is no way of adding additional sensors or lights, as it is possible to do with ESPHome. When using room-assistant with Raspberry Pis, you could install other applications, such as AdGuard Home, but managing multiple devices can get a bit convoluted.

When using ESPHome to track iBeacon devices, you could turn every multisensor or LED strip controller in to a tracker. Management would be greatly aided by being able to view and edit all nodes from a single dashboard. As many ESP32 boards are customizable, you will also be able to add external antennas to increase its BLE range.

Not to Be Confused With the ESP32 Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon

ESPHome does already have an ESP32 Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon component; however, this does the reverse of what has been described in this article. It won't track your smartphone or BLE tag, but will allow your phone to track the ESP32. It essentially turns the EPS32 in to an iBeacon device.

While this component could be used for room level tracking, it would be more complicated as it requires your phone to send data to Home Assistant, and it doesn't support BLE tags.

A portrait photo oif Liam Alexander Colman, the author, creator, and owner of Home Assistant Guide wearing a suit.

About Liam Alexander Colman

is an experienced Home Assistant user who has been utilizing the platform for a variety of projects over an extended period. His journey began with a Raspberry Pi, which quickly grew to three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-fledged server. Liam's current operating system of choice is Unraid, with Home Assistant comfortably running in a Docker container.
With a deep understanding of the intricacies of Home Assistant, Liam has an impressive setup, consisting of various Zigbee devices, and seamless integrations with existing products such as his Android TV box. For those interested in learning more about Liam's experience with Home Assistant, he shares his insights on how he first started using the platform and his subsequent journey.


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