iBeacon has beamed its way into our lives, targeting numerous markets and raising the hopes of even more. The emitter of mystic rays that buzz-up corresponding applications in your smartphones, is sure to cause a considerable disruption; the expansion of which is still being evaluated.
For those still to get acquainted with this firebrand, here is our little introduction into the world of these devices.
What is iBeacon?
In order to determine how iBeacons are changing the world around us, we must first understand what these devices are.
iBeacon is a device emitting Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio signals which prompt the analogous apps in your phone to wake up and respond to trigger an action, such as a push notification or social media check-in’s. BLE is a power-saving approach, with absolute minimal battery consumption and almost no set-up requirements. As far as the application of iBeacons are concerned, the sky is the limit in terms of the uses for these devices and their application in retail and location based services.
Who is using this Technology?
Whilst it was first thought that iBeacons would be used predominantly by only retailers for targeted deals, location specific shopping advice and offers and information about the shop or centre they might be visiting, iBeacons have a far greater use, such as:
- Museums and exhibits, zoos, aquariums, exhibitions, and even gallery showings: You can get more information from a guided tour or an audio tour that you listen to as you walk a pre-determined path through the space. iBeacons stationed at each item could offer additional information and content provided, but in a way that still allows you to take your own path through the space or linger at a specific work or display. iBeacon content could also additionally be loaded with links to websites, apps, discussion forums, and so on.
- Hospitals: Maps and navigation. iBeacons could offer an effective option here. Simply station them in each hospital unit and provide a map of that unit (or more sophisticated navigation) so users can see how to navigate it. Pair that with more general maps and guides of each floor near elevators and entrances. Each unit could also broadcast information and guidance to patients or visitors along with guidelines when visiting an intensive care unit, expected wait times or online registration forms in the emergency room. Going even further, iBeacons could be built into individual rooms with information and important notices.
- Conferences: Go to almost any conference and you receive a map and schedule of events and sessions and often a mobile app with that information and other features like event-specific social media tools. Adding iBeacon support could make those apps much easier to use and provide additional resources. Conference centers could offer their own app and building iBeacons into their spaces that could alert users to information about each event that takes place, and even link to an app developed by the organisation managing the conference.
- Restaurants, cafeterias, coffee shops, and bars: Offer a virtual menu with more details about specific items such as calorie counts, local farms where produce was sourced from, and suggested food and wine pairings. Going further, iBeacons could alert you to other local businesses, provide information or history about the place, or even allow you to quickly see what catering options are available for your next party.
- Hotels and resorts: The hospitality industry, like retail or museums, is a perfect fit with technologies like iBeacons and could provide a virtual concierge accessible from anywhere on the property, offer expedited and frictionless check-in and check-out, deliver information on amenities, and help customers explore the points of interest within a resort as well as around it.
- Car Parks: Getting you into your reserved car at the airport, or in a busy shopping center.
- Helping those with visual impairments: Apple provides iOS technologies to help the visually impaired navigate their devices and the world around them including text-to-speech capabilities, dictation technology built into Siri, and support for Bluetooth Braille displays. iBeacon setups could tap into these technologies to provide specific information about a space or venue useful to the visually impaired.
- Schools, Uni’s, and colleges: iBeacons could provide navigation aids on large campuses, deliver policies and information to visitors and family members, display the cafeteria menu each day, and allow teachers and guidance counselors to broadcast information related to their classes or services.
How does iBeacon Work?
iBeacons which are small hardware devices are located in various positions where they need to send signals. Each iBeacon then beams relay UUID (Universally Unique Identifiers), specific to the vendor that is using it such as the retail stre, the car park owner, the museum etc, which can be modified using the accompanying Software Development Kit. For example, the next time you go to watch your favorite sport at a stadium there is now an app to guide you throughout the venue, instead of volunteers showing you around. This is how the ibeacon technology on an app might work, at the moment you enter the detection diameter of the iBeacon’s range, it awakens the relevant app (UUID) with a welcome message also confirming your tickets to avoid the hassle. Once you have entered the stadium complex you are informed about which direction to proceed to find your seats; during the interval or break you will receive updates about where to find refreshments, restrooms or other amusements such as gallery or exhibition in the vicinity.
Other examples of the advantages of iBeacons
- Building Loyalty Programs
- Targeting customers based on demographic data
- Indoor Mapping
Plus many more. The sky is quite literally the limit in terms of how iBeacons will revolutionise the way in which service providers interact with customers in a physical sense.
Is iBeacon right for your business?
Newpath WEB has significant experience in designing, developing and managing solutions based on iBeacon Technology. Why not have a chat with one of our mobile specialists to find out if and iBeacon solution is right for your needs.