Failing to connect to Estimote beacon from Windows Phone 8.1

Not every tree bears fruit, nor does every venture into code bring about a success. I thought that it would be good to start writing about these as well since I really don’t get to read much about why things fail to work. Bloggers seem more content to post only when there is a solution, or when they have something to review, or if there is something that evokes some emotional response. Usually ire.

A few weeks at the day job we purchased a few of the Estimote beacon kits that are still in Developer Preview. The company is really positioning themselves to take the market for themselves as not many other solutions currently available that are getting the attention they have seen.

For iOS and Android, working with the SDK was fairly straight-forward and the beacons performed well right out of the box. I’m not the biggest fan of Dev’ing in Java but even I was able to make them work within a sample application. Good stuff.

However.

When I launched my Windows Phone with the 8.1 Developer Preview build of the O.S. installed there was a problem: Apps can’t seem to sense the Estimote beacons unless I pair them. I’d used a set of sample code from Microsoft to write a generic Bluetooth explorer and was able to detect several devices with which I could pair. But only when those devices were in a pairing mode.

What this means is that for the time being there isn’t a clean way for me to integrate Estimote beacons into my App. This actually is pretty crushing to the features we wanted since a fair amount of them relied upon positional awareness within a given space at a level of precision GPS does not give us.

The real fix, as I see it, lies mostly in Microsoft’s hands unless there is some software solution I have not come across. This is not very likely as I had a brief Twitter exchange with Pete Brown from Microsoft on the matter and also posted a question on StackOverflow. At the time of this posting I have had a few upvotes but no solutions that the community is aware that addresses this question, more any answer for similar questions on StackOverflow.