Smartphone, cellular
and hands-free mobile
phone detection

Gain business intelligence by measuring people and cars to enhance user experience in shopping areas and roads.

Monitor Shopping and Street Activity

Gain business intelligence by measuring people and cars to enhance user experience in shopping areas and roads.

For further information about monitoring of shopping and street activity, please read the "Smartphone detection" section in the Meshlium Technical Guide

Vehicle Traffic Monitoring

Understand traffic flow, detect congestion points to optimize access to cities, airports or attractions.

For further information about vehicle traffic monitoring, please read the "Smartphone detection" section in the Meshlium Technical Guide


The last software included in Meshlium Scanner increments from 70% to the 95%* the amount of smartphones, tablets, hands free, and laptops detected by its MAC address by scanning WiFi and Bluetooth signals.

* Under which conditions do you get a 95% detection rate of devices? Read more in the Smartphone detection chapter of the Meshlium Technical Guide

1. Detection of the current version

It includes any of the last models even those that implement low consumption techniques when using the radio interfaces:

  • iPhone (all models).
  • Android (all models).

2. Minimum time between scanning intervals

The improvement of the number of devices detected in the new version is due to the reduction between scanning intervals. Now it is just 1 second against the 20 seconds of the previous versions. So even those models that have long cycles between advertising WiFi frames (beacons) will be captured.

Update, 2019: The new “Real time” scanning option increases the number of devices detected.

3. Vehicle Traffic Monitoring

The reduction of the time between scanning intervals allows for increments in the vehicles detection rate. .

Note: the usage of directional antennas are required for Vehicle Traffic Monitoring applications. Ask our Sales Department for more information.

Quick Overview:

Meshlium Scanner allows to detect iPhone and Android devices and in general any device which works with WiFi or Bluetooth interfaces.

These devices can be detected without the need of being connected to an specific Access Point, enabling the detection of any smartphone, laptop or handsfree device which comes into the coverage area of Meshlium.

The idea is to be able to measure the amount of people and cars which are present in a certain point at a specific time, allowing the study of the evolution of the traffic congestion of pedestrians and vehicles.

Users have to do nothing to be detected as the WiFi and Bluetooth radios integrated in their smartphones (mobile, hands-free and cell phones) periodically send a "hellow!" message telling about their presence.

The information read from each user contains:

  • The MAC address of the wireless interface, which allows to identify it uniquely.
  • The strength of the signal (RSSI), which gives us the average distance of the device from the scanning point.
  • The vendor of the smartphone (Apple, Samsung, etc)
  • The WiFi Access Point where the user is connected (if any) and the Bluetooth friendly name. Users not connected to an AP will be showed as "free users".
  • The Class of Device (CoD) in case of Bluetooth which allows us to differentiate the type of device (smartphone, handsfree, computer, LAN/network AP). With this parameter we can differentiate among pedestrians and vehicles.

The coverage areas may be modified by changing the power transmission of the radio interfaces allowing the creation of different scanning zones from a few meters (in order to study an specific point) to dozens of meters (to study the whole street or even the entire floor of a shopping mall).

Example of information monitored by the WiFi Scanner:

DB ID Timestamp MAC AP RSSI Vendor
53483 2012-04-24 07:56:25 C4:2C:03:96:0E:4A 69 Apple
53482 2012-04-24 09:11:26 D8:2A:7E:10:1E:63 libelium_wsn1 60 Nokia Corporation

Example of information monitored by the Bluetooth Scanner:

DB ID Timestamp MAC ID RSSI CoD Vendor
45400 2012-05-16 16:18:12 00:26:7E:5F:3C:18 myCar -72 Handsfree PARROT SA
78005 2012-04-20 12:59:27 D8:2A:7E:0E:C3:10 Tropic -85 Smartphone Nokia Corporation

NOTE: The vendor column is filled as "Unknown" for new models as the radio chipsets can not be correlated anymore with the original vendors.

Applications related to Shopping and Street activities:

  • Number of people passing daily in a street
  • Average time of the stance of the people in a street
  • Differentiate between residents (daily matches) and visitants (sporadic matches)
  • Walking routes of people in shopping malls and average time in each area

The Vehicle Traffic Monitoring is also another important application as understanding the flow and congestion of vehicular traffic is essential for efficient road systems in cities. Smooth vehicle flows reduce journey times, reduce emissions and save energy. Similarly, the efficient flow of pedestrians in an airport, stadium or shopping centre saves time and can make the difference between a good and a bad visit. Monitoring traffic - whether road vehicles or people - is useful for operators of roads, attractions and transport hubs.

Applications for Vehicle Traffic Detection:

  • Monitor in real time the number of vehicles passing for a certain point in highways and roads
  • Detect average time of vehicle stance for traffic congestion prevention
  • Monitor average speed of vehicles in highways and roads
  • Provide travel times on alternate routes when congestion is detected

The monitoring system can also be used to calculate the average speed of the vehicles which transit over a roadway by taking the time mark at two different points.

Do the users need to have an specific app installed or interact somehow to be detected?

No, the scan is performed silently, Meshlium just detects the "beacon frames" originated by the WiFi and Bluetooth radios integrated in the smartphones. Users just need to have the WiFi radio ON or the Bluetooth radio ON with the visible option activated.

How do we differentiate if the Bluetooth device detected is a car’s hands-free or an smartphone?

In the scanning process each Bluetooth device gives its “Class of Device” (CoD) attribute which allows to identify the type of service it gives. We can differentiate easily the CoD’s generated by the car’s handsfree from the people’s phone ones.

How do I control the inquiry area?

In the Bluetooth inquiry there are seven different power levels which go from -27dBm to 3dBm in order to set different coverage zones from 10 to 50 meters. In both WiFi and Bluetooth radios these zones can also be increased or decreased by using a different antenna for the module as it counts with an standard N-Male connector. The default antenna which comes with the scanning modules is an omnidirectional antenna with a gain of 5 dBi. Ask our Sales Dep. for the couple of 18 dBi, directional antenna option.

How do I calculate the distance of any of the devices detected?

In the inquiry process we receive the MAC address of the Bluetooth device along with the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) which gives us the quality of the transmission with each device. RSSI values usually go from -40 dBm (nearest nodes) to -90 dBm (farthest ones). In the tests performed devices at a distance of 10m reported -50 dBm as average, while the ones situated at 50m gave us an average of -75 dBm.

Note: calculating the distance using RSSI depends on many factors such as the type of phone and how the user is taking the smartphone (in the pocket, in the hand, in a bagpack, etc).

What about privacy?

The anonymous nature of this technique is due to the use of MAC addresses as identifiers. MAC addresses are not associated with any specific user account or mobile phone number not even to any specific vehicle. Additionally, the “inquiry mode” (visibility) can be turned off so people have always chosen if their device will be detectable or not.

The user can also activate the anonymization of MAC addresses. This feature avoids your Meshlium stores the real MAC addresses (just a random MD5 hash is registered). This way, you ensure total privacy. .