iBeacons are the latest in greatest of mobile technology. They operate off the the most recent standard in bluetooth technology, which runs on less energy, at a lower cost and is included on all recent smartphones. iBeacons are devices that send out a bluetooth signal. At their core that's it, but what you can do with that signal is the real fun part. You can configure an app on a mobile device to do any number of actions when near a particular iBeacon.
Retails stores are the most common example of an industry that can benefit from beacons. Put an iBeacon by your front door and as a potential customer walks by they get a notification on your current sale. Automatically check them into your store, when they come in. Have an iBeacon under a few of your counters? You can tell what your customers are checking out and interested in and what they aren't. You can even use iBeacons to confirm payment, based on proximity. You even have the ability to transform a mobile device, such as an iPad you use as a register, into an iBeacon. This alleviates the extra cost of getting and maintaining a separate devices. All of those are more than enough reason to incorporate beacons into your brick-and-mortar establishment. What else could you do with this new technology?
Well you can make your apps very location aware and contextual. Say you manage a restaurant and a potential customer has your app. When they are away from your establishment, they want to find your location, contact you, and peruse your menu. When they come to your restaurant and get within beacon range, the app can do so much more. It can welcome them, ask how many are in their party, allow them to order from their phone, and even pay while they are there. This simple change makes the app more relevant to your customers, not to mention its ability to speed up service times and alleviate pressure on your waitstaff.
iBeacons are also great for navigation. A series of beacons can be a highly accurate network that can guide users to where they want to go, especially indoors where GPS and cell service aren't as reliable. Want to get around a museum, airport, or college campus? iBeacons know exactly where you are and where you want to go. Do you want to know more about the the sculpture you're looking at? Your phone knows which one you're standing in front of and can pull up the relevant info. Your airline will know that you're stuck in security and hold the plane until you reach the terminal. With the tap of a button, you could alert campus police to a dangerous incident and they can lock in on your location.
The proximity awareness of iBeacons makes them perfect for unlocking doors and automating home systems. Devices are already coming out now that will unlock your door, when you get within just a few feet. Great for when your hands are full. Hotels are also jumping on this technology. Fewer keys are always great. There is even potential to "lend" your key to others. Allowing guests, repair personal, and your current partner to access your home. Beyond your door, an iBeacon hub can automate your house. Turn on and off lights as you move between rooms, transfer music to different speakers, and much more. They can even be context aware. Coming home late on a Friday night? Play that smooth jazz you love when you walk in the door. That would be nice.
For those politically minded, beacons have amazing uses at rallies, protests, and conventions. Beacons can broadcast information to attendees, prompting them to share a slogan, sign a petition, or pledge a donation. In countries that crack down on internet access, you could use beacon technology to create a mesh network. A mesh network in this context would allow protestors phones to be there own network, relaying messages and information around to each other without an internet connection. Even conventions can benefit from iBeacons, with the ability to check in, navigate, and learn more in all the chaos.
iBeacons can transform an app from something pretty standard into a context aware powerhouse. Users can find what they want swifter and with more ease. App creators can get their message to the right users at the right time, while alleviating the workload of their employees. iBeacon technology is transforming many industries and everyone is benefitting from it. Why not jump in and be ahead of the curve?