Could this be a hint as to what will be announced next week, or am I getting ahead of myself? Either way, support for tracking iBeacon devices is a very welcome addition to ESPHome. With it, the dream of having reliable room level tracking that is easy to set up is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, such as iBeacon devices, are devices that broadcast their identifier to other, nearby BLE capable devices. To put it simply, it is a way of one device saying “hello, I'm here” to another device when they are in proximity. Without any obstruction, the range of such a beacon can theoretically be up to 30 meters, though interference from other BLE devices, such as smartwatches, and obstructions can diminish the range.
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.
About Liam Alexander Colman
Liam Alexander Colmanis 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.