Jan 18

Emerging Technologies: Bluetooth-Low-Energy Beacons (iBeacons)

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Posted byphryxus
Last Update: August 30, 2016

 

One major imminent technology to proximity marketing is Bluetooth-low-energy beacons, also coined iBeacons. The hand-held size devices are nothing more than Bluetooth emitting transmitters that are encased in a weatherproof shell with its own power source. These devices hold no code nor receiver for response signals. An individual beacon across most all the current suppliers are cheap, inexpensive products usually costing around the $30-35 range per unit. Though suppliers each have their own proprietary business models for how they wish customers to purchase their version of the technology.

The importance of these new devices if embraced by the larger market is tremendous, as beacons would allow brick-and-mortar stores of all kinds to “push” pre-scripted message notifications to mobile app users when users come into range (approximately a maximum of 70 meters) of the installed devices. Beacons all come in a very discrete mountable casing that store owner can make visible or hidden throughout their retail locations. The Bluetooth emitting signal is essentially a tripwire for installed apps to pickup, which then creates a call to its server over the phone’s network connection that then responds back to the user’s mobile app account with a call-to-action protocol. These protocols may include push notifications, automatic location check-ins, and even gathering of market data from users (assuming users have permitted the app to share their information they used to install and register the app on their mobile device).

Whereas companies before have to exhaustingly compel users to perform their owns actions to receive more limited market data from customers, like promoting Facebook likes or customer reviews, this technology is moving towards the automatic opt-in direction that will be increasingly more popular as technologies like beacons get more accepted and integrated into our daily lives.

For more information on beacons, see Google’s own direction with the technology through the link below, where we are speculating Google will be using this technology to “heat-map” their Google Maps platform in a possible cooperation with Apple. This would be hugely groundbreaking, as the two companies propose having beacons detect smartphone users WITHOUT them needing to download an app. Now this is not considered a danger to one’s privacy necessarily, but rather imagine visiting Google Maps to see a live action shot of people’s movement anywhere on the map.

 

See an overview of the technology on Google’s documentation of their own beacon project:

https://developers.google.com/beacons/overview?hl=en