Apple iBeacon Is a New Location Tracking Alternative to GPS
Posted on: February 19, 2014
Apple’s new iBeacon and other future beacon technology could transform how your business communicates with customers and employees.
Beacons use low-powered radio signals to allow smart devices to communicate with them. The iBeacon, specifically, allows iPhones to communicate via Low Energy Bluetooth. Indoor spots with poor cellular service and where GPS doesn’t always work are ideal locations for beacons, Business Insider notes. The iBeacon was included in Apple’s iOS7 update. And iPhones with Bluetooth 4.0 can act as both receivers and transmitters.
Apple introduced physical iBeacons at its retail stores recently. Several are strategically placed throughout the store and as a customer walks around, the beacons trip off messages to that customer’s iPhone. A customer can even scan an item they want and pay for it from their phone using the Apple Store app. The app too uses beacon technology, according to information at the Apple website.
In another example, if a grocery store has beacons placed in specific aisles, when a customer walks in range of that beacon, they can be informed via a mobile device of products on sale. Advertisers are even arranging with grocery retailers to have spots played on a phone while a customer is walking through a particular aisle, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
Kirsten Osolind, President and COO of re:invention consulting, observes:
“Beacon technology will improve the way consumers use smart phones and transform numerous industries by solving the indoor geo-location challenge. It has great potential to facilitate better mobile payments thereby disrupting the whole credit card ecosystem because of its range.”
BestFit Mobile, a company that aims to improve how brick-and-mortar retailers use Low Energy Bluetooth to their advantage, adds more business applications for beacon technology in a recent statement:
“The right apps also help retailers gain significant insights into how customers shop, what brand decisions they make, and how they convert. These are the same advantages online retailers have enjoyed for years, but brick-and-mortar stores were unequipped to leverage—until now.”
There are a few drawbacks to fully utilizing beacons as a means of communicating with customers or employees. The biggest is that for it to work, the intended recipient of the message must have your business’ app installed on his or her phone. The customer must also have a Bluetooth radio on and agree to accept messages from your beacons.
Using Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock