iBeacon is an implementation of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) which enables very precise micro-location triggers for events in iOS 7 apps. Recently it’s not only coming to iOS only but also Android user will also experience this feature.
BLE is especially useful in places indoor where GPS location data my not be reliably available. The sensitivity is also greater than either GPS or WiFi triangulation. The implementations are mostly in a shopping mall or a mall. Basically a huge building where people find it a bit hard to find their needs or destination.
The dual nature of the iBeacons is really interesting as well. We can receive content from the beacons, but we can be them as well. It is possible that between businesses and municipalities constructing networks of low-cost BLE beacons and us all acting as defacto mobile beacons, the addressable micro-location network could become vast and incredibly powerul—and valuable.
“We see huge growth for infrastructure-based technologies like Wi-Fi and iBeacons, with BLE [Bluetooth low-energy) deployments forecast to break 20,000 by 2015 and more in the next year, largely focused on retail,” said Patrick Connolly, senior researcher with ABI Research.
ABI forecasts strong growth for ultrasound, LED, magnetic-field, LTE-Direct and sensor fusion indoor location technologies, while Wi-Fi is expected to become increasingly important as it evolves to indoor location 2.0 with higher accuracy and lower costs.
“From a retailer standpoint I think it is not a question of if now but when,” he said. “The number of major brands waiting to pull the trigger in 2015/16 is incredible.”
“Like every technology there are teething problems, such as the ability to monitor and maintain beacons over large networks, but these are small and rectifiable, particularly as BLE moves to meshing. BLE beacons have their limitations and we are already seeing hybridized solutions that combine technologies together to improve accuracy, coverage, reach, etc. A great example is in the advertising area, where beacons are being combined with ultrasound/Audio.”