The way Apple has implemented iBeacons for now requires both sides are running the relevant app.
We think that is… some kind of oversight. Regardless, we’re keeping an eye on that issue and we have a good future solution in case Apple decides to keep it that way. It seems to us that Apple is likely to fix that. iBeacon is sort of like CarPlay, it’s something that Apple is continuing to refine.
Advertising a Room can be done via external iBeacon transmitters, so that would generally setup either via a dedicated room based iOS device (“this is the Family Room iPad”) or a dedicated transmitter.
Advertising a Device though is where you may want the advertisement to happen in the background. You could attach a physical iBeacon to your car, but in general things that move are not also running an app and unlocked. So right now it works for the Apple Store app because you walk around the Apple Store with your device in your hand and their app running, but Apple doesn’t broadcast the advertisement if an app is closed – even though iOS actually does broadcast BLE advertisements with apps closed, just not yet iBeacons. (An example of that is the Kevo lock which uses BLE proximity and works with the app closed, but is not based directly on iBeacons.)
Anyway, again we have a good solution if Apple decides not to improve iBeacons in that direction, but we do consider that a bug in iOS at this point.