Tiny device that is getting popular right now is iBeacon. It seems like it will be some businesses’ bestfriend. A device which uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)-powered 4.0 technology, the iBeacon is a transmitter which enables a smart phone or other device to perform actions when in close proximity, opening up a host of opportunities for retailers and advertisers. For instance, the iBeacon can help generate notifications of nearby items on sale, provide information about a nearby event, or even enable payments at the point of sale (POS) in-store so customers can make a payment entirely over mobile.
The device gives retailers access to a wealth of useful data sets such as how long a person stays in a store as well as an idea of the items that they were looking to purchase; with an iOS device the iBeacon is able to identify when a phone has entered or left a store and what department the user may be standing in. The iBeacon’s commercial capabilities also extend to the logistics industry as the device can be used to set a region around a movable object like a food truck or a ship so business can track their goods.
Apple started to trial the iBeacon in its stores in the US in 2013 but over the last year, UK firms have also stepped into the market and begun to pilot the devices. Virgin Atlantic is currently trial the iBeacon at Heathrow Airport to automatically pull up a user’s mobile boarding pass for inspection when the passenger moves towards the security checkpoint, while the likes of Waitrose and Tesco have been trialling the device in their stores.
Although the technology is still relatively new with physical limitations such as signal strength and materials. additional developments are set for 2015 following Apple’s strategy to make the iBeacon available to the “myriad of physical locations where beacons could be deployed”. The tech giant also has a range of developer kits available to support the creation of additional iBeacon-integrated hardware and accessories.
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