Have you already heard about beacons? These little sensors are a promising technology, but they’re still relatively unknown. Smartphone usage is becoming more and more common in our daily lives. Whether in a store or a museum, there are new interactive possibilities between a visitor and a location. Nonetheless, many interiors block cellular signals and impede GPS geolocalization. Beacon technology thus represents a new field of possibilities.
What are Beacons?
The Beacon tag is a small physical box that uses a Bluetooth connection. It puts out signals at regular intervals that are read by a smartphone or tablet when they come into range. These can then estimate their distance from the beacon by reading the signal that they’re receiving (RSSI) together with a baseline reading.
The advantages of Beacon technology
The good news is that these sensors are affordable. The price varies depending on their capabilities, but generally they’re €10-30 per beacon.
Using a Bluetooth connection provides them with real independence. As opposed to wi-fi, a beacon doesn’t need an internet connection. It also covers a broader range (up to 450 meters, depending on the model) than does NFC (Near Field Communication), which limits exchanges among peripheral devices at distances of 10 cm or less.
Another advantage is that a beacon consumes very little energy. It uses standard Bluetooth Low Energy, an efficient version of Bluetooth that allows devices to remain powered longer.
The drawbacks of Beacon technology
The biggest drawbacks are the need to have Bluetooth activated on the target device, to have enabled geolocation services and to have accepted push notifications.
The Popularization of Beacons
The explosion is already happening: as of January 1, 2015, there were more than 250 players in the global beacon market and today there are more than 4 million beacons installed.
Nonetheless, France is relatively behind in deploying this technology. Why? The dominant players in the market are still able to command relatively high deployment prices. PandaSuite is working to democratize this technology, to encourage the creation of apps that use beacons and develop new use cases for them.
Kontakt, Estimote, Radbeacons…the market supports numerous beacon manufacturers. The differences are mainly found in terms of autonomy and reach.
There are numerous norms related to different platforms: Eddystone, Altbeacon and iBeacon. If you wish to use beacons with PandaSuite, make sure that the Eddystone norm is installed as it offers the best multi-platform compatibility.
Apple was the first to deploy iBeacons in its stores.
Today, in retail shops, airports, museums and businesses, numerous brands are using this technology to provide their clients with customized offers that emphasize a personal experience. Localizing, sending messages, pushing promotions, sign-ups…beacons allow all kinds of experiments that can change our way of living.
Now you're a Beacon technology expert it's time to practice. Here is an article about successful Beacon uses. If you want to try it on PandaSuite a tutorial is available on your Help Center. You will see how to use it like a boss. Have fun!