Bluetooth Beacon Indoor Navigation & openHAB Connection

Dear openHAB Community,

I’m working on a project for public building automation and would appreciate to hear your opinions about my project.
I’m developing an Indoor Navigation System for employees and visitors of a public building which is also connected to openHAB. Following facts about the project itself:

Architectural aspects:

  • area includes eight separate buildings
  • all buildings belong to the same public institution
  • each building has at least three floors
  • buildings are nearly fully covered with an WLAN

Hardware & Software aspects:

  • no extra hardware implementation into the building than the beacons (such as Bluetooth to WiFi Gateways)
  • beacons are from the manufacturer BeaconInside
  • two separate sets of Beacons, one for the navigation and one for openHAB connection
  • openHAB runs on an internal server with full accessibility
  • use of an existing App for mobile devices


  • Employees and visitors should be able to navigate throughout the buildings
  • Location based informations within openHAB (HABpanel)

Present soloution:

  • Usage of the Beacon Locator App:
  • Navigation with push notifications on the mobile devices when in reach of a Beacon ( “you are in front of room 23, room 24 is 20m straight on, room 22 is 20m back”)
  • forwarding to the openHAB panel with the IP adress/ port of the server/HABpanel with the App (http://192.168…/habpanel/index.html#/view)
  • the panel shows different helpful pictures and links e.g. the layout of the area, a FAQ section, sensor information like temperature

Upside of the soloution:

  • easy implemented navigation
  • easy connection to the HABpanel

Downside of the soloution:

  • each Beacon has to be managed manually
  • navigation is not on a professional level
  • there is no profile differentiation in the App -> everyone can change the function of the beacon
  • there is also no profile differentiation within openHAB to prevent data manipulation in the panel (e.g. from visitors)

My main question to you gyus: Does openHAB makes sense in an environment like that?
And I wonder if alternative soloutions like WLAN navigation would be better.

If you ever worked with Bluetooth Beacons or in the field of Indoor Navigation I would like to hear from your experiences.
I would be glad if you’d share your thoughts and ideas about the project with me.
I hope I explained myself well but if you still have questions I try to answer ASAP.
I really appreciate any help you can provide.

Regards MB84

1 Like

Hello Marius,

do you really need beacons?

Have a look at
We’re using this camera recognition based, wireless free system in our hospital (1100 beds).
One of the pictures on their website is our building.
It runs on a Samsung S3 without problems. Available for Android and IOS.


Yes, indoor triangulation and tracking is not quite what beacons were intended for, they are optimized for running on battery, and as you mentioned correctly, you need to maintain them (exchange batteries etc.). It’s likely hard to build a good navigation system based on this, at least I have not heard of any such in existence, let alone open source ones.

As you say you’ve got WiFi coverage, I suggest you check out FIND.
There’s a link to client implementations here, including the Github hosted source of the client app (note it’s Android only per default due to some restrictions Apple has builtin into for iOS apps to access WiFi data). The default app can be used to ‘learn’ the buildings, and you can include a client code part into your own app to make it query the FIND server that provides access to that previously-learnt building data (it’s essentially simply returning the closest Point of Interest as defined by you when learning).
You may or may not use the openHAB integration documented in my link, it would work without, too.

Hello Thomas,

first of all thank you for your quick response!

The project originally required to connect beacons with openHAB but is now at a state where I think of alternatives like I mentioned before.
I really like the idea of vanilla navigation but I’m concerned about several aspects:

  • pricing
  • floor markers
  • outdoor functions

For the whole institution with all the buildings I calculated about 500 markers. The anually pricing would be 11k and is out of the current budget. To connect the navigation from one building to another it would be necessary to place markers outside (correct me if I’m wrong) and I dont think they last long in outside weather conditions.

Regards Marius

Hello Markus,

I really appreciate your reply!

FIND sounds pretty good to me. The disadvantage is clearly the only Android restriction. I’ll try to run some tests.

Have you ever heard of integrating openHAB into public buildings?
I just dont see a reason why openHAB should be used in a scenario where many, many different people come together.

Again thanks for your answer!

Regards Marius

We’ve had a great deal of success with the beacon and mapping system from Aruba. It provides centralized management and they have mapping tools to quickly put together navigational aids.

Well, FIND is not “Android-only” but “everything-but-iOS”, see clients list on their website. And the problem is sign of a fundamental Apple policy thing, so it’ll likely apply to all other WiFi based solutions as well.
Then again, the underlying information as linked to here is 6 years old now - maybe something has changed since.

FWIW, there’s a list of pointers to alternative systems on the FIND site here.

Yes, here’s one example is what @george.erhan has given a presentation on recent Smart Home Day.

I don’t catch what you want to tell by that statement, but as I said, you may use the FIND integration in openHAB or may not. It’s MQTT based, every user app user would be a MQTT client, so you can access the information where the user is actually located and make use of that information on the server (openHAB) side, but you don’t have to. You can use the FIND server only as well and have your app retrieve and display your user’s location dependent information.

Hello Markus,

don’t worry about the price of vanillaNav!
You are not paying for markers along the route.
You pay for targets (e.g. rooms).

I love it. It runs in flight mode, without any wireless or mobile connection.
Administration is completely cloud based. No Installation footprint on your site,
except the floor or wall markers. No batteries, no problems.

Give them a call or mail and mention my name :wink:


Just to throw in another alternative, reelyActive is an option you should consider. Rather than beacons you have BT detectors at each location (an RPi Zero W would be sufficient if you don’t buy their devices). With a custom app running on the phones you can individually identify reach device and which detector it is closest to. They have commercial options as well as open source options.

@MB84 this might be useful for you: