Company: Technology Trends

iBeacon – Where are you and what are you buying?

Brick and mortar retailers have been envious of the amount of data that online retailers get from consumers. Online retailers are able to see where you have been, how long you spend there and even entice you to buy with deals or discounts that they think you are interested in. Retailers at the mall (brick and mortar) can now have similar consumer insight with the help of Apple iPhones and other iOS devices and iBeacon.

What is iBeacon?
iBeacon is Apple’s use of BLE (Bluetooth low-energy) to create a way to provide location-based information and services in areas where GPS doesn’t work well. iBeacon became available in iOS7 devices (iPhone 4s and later, iPad 3rd gen. and later, iPad mini and iPod touch 5th gen. and later). The iOS device uses BLE to communicate with beacons that are typically small, battery powered Bluetooth transmitters. The app installed on your iOS device listens for the beacons and respond when in range. For example, you enter the store at the mall and the store’s app on your phone brings up a special offer about the product on display that you are standing next to.

iBeacon Examples
There are real world applications of iBeacon showing up. One example is a Virgin Atlantic iBeacon trial in Heathrow airport. Virgin Atlantic passengers that have the app will receive an automatic boarding pass notification when they approach the security checkpoint. Major League Baseball is another example where 28 MLB ballparks across the U.S. installed iBeacon networks to help iPhone owners check-in to games automatically and collect special offers. The 2014 MLB All-Star game at Target Field will include an enhanced iBeacon network that will enable users to enhance their experience at nine separate attractions.

On or Off?
The iBeacon feature can be turned on or off by the user. Some users are concerned about others knowing where they are or where they have been. For those people, the feature can be disabled by uninstalling the app or by switching off Bluetooth on their iPhone.

Why all of the buzz around iBeacon?
The iBeacon technology can have a huge impact on everyday experiences like mobile payments (which NFC has been slow to be adopted in the U.S.). The technology can also be used in conjunction with other technologies like WiFi and the cloud to enable the next level of shopping or even enhance the experience at a spectator event.