We’ve all been there before. As useful and ubiquitous maps and navigation apps may be, there are instances and places where they just can’t be used. Like tunnels or underground, where GPS signals, sometimes even cellular networks, aren’t able to penetrate. That is, of course, a major concern for Waze, who might have finally developed a solution for “tunnel blindness”. Partnering with Bluetooth beacons experts Bluvision, Waze has just revealed Waze Beacon, a custom-made BEEKS Plus that broadcasts accurate location information to drivers, passengers, and cars, even in the darkest of tunnels.
Bluetooth beacons aren’t exactly new, but until recently, their main advertised benefits have been in the area of advertisement and marketing, which may have colored some people’s perception of the technology. Well now there is a more useful application of the technology that few will probably complain about.
Waze Beacons will take the place of GPS signals in tunnels where the latter is unavailable. It is able to convey to receivers, that is smartphones or maybe even car navigation systems, the location of the beacons in order to give mapping and navigation software a better sense of the vehicle’s location and the roads that it must traverse. And it’s practically all automatic, requiring only that the device’s Bluetooth is enabled.
Although branded as Waze Beacon, the device is a custom-made Bluvision BEEKS Plus beacon. But unlike the commercial beacons already available, the Waze Beacon stores an extended battery life that can lust more than 6 years, hence the larger size of the beacon itself. The beacons are also IP67 dust and water proof for survivability. The beacons have also been tweaked to fire Bluetooth signals more rapidly to take into account that fast-moving cars, not walking or even stationary humans, are the target of those signals. And naturally, the beacons powered by the Eddystone beacon format from Google, Waze’s parent company.
Waze’s Beacon Program started in mid-August and is now available in select tunnels in Pittsburgh, PA and Haifa, Israel, with Paris and Rio de Janeiro schedule to follow suit. Waze says that other navigation services, not just Waze, will also be able to join the Waze Beacon Program free of charge, but doesn’t go into detail about it yet.