You are here Home » Tech » Hardware » Apple’s iBeacon Technology, Ahead Of Its Competition: But What Are Beacons? And How Do They Work?

Apple’s iBeacon Technology, Ahead Of Its Competition: But What Are Beacons? And How Do They Work?

by Felix Omondi

Apple’s iBeacon Technology, Ahead Of Its Competition: But What Are Beacons? And How Do They Work?

The modern day smartphone owner spends most of his/her time indoors. But cell signals inside indoor spaces are never as strong as they can be, sometimes leading up to making your phones smart features like locating a device using GPS not function properly.

To address the problem of low cell signal while indoors, Apple presents the iBeacon solution. A beacon is a low-cost hardware that is small and compact enough to fit onto a wall or a countertop. The device is battery powered and quite energy efficient. It emits a low-level Bluetooth signal to communicate with your smartphone or tablet to transmit messages and prompts.

Beacons have the potential to transform how retailers, enterprises, transit systems, event organizers and educational institutions communicate with people inside their buildings. Home consumers too can also install beacons inside their homes as part of home automation system.

A report tabled by BI Intelligence, talks about exactly what the beacons are, what they do and why Apple with its iBeacon, is leading the beacon pack. Bringing new dimensions to the indoor mobile communication system. The report also goes further to talk about the challenges the device faces in terms of large scale adoption. The following is a summary of the BI Intelligence report on beacons:

  1. In-store retailers and offline payments systems are on the leading in adopting the use of beacons. They use the device to provide customers inside their premises, quick information, flash sales or deals and to speed up the checkout process through a completely contactless payment system.
  2. The study reveals that customers inside a business premise are more receptive to the beacons. Given that about half of all adult Americans, often use their mobile devices while inside stores. Home consumers too can use the beacons to automate their homes inexpensively; beacons could be used to turn on the lights in the room whenever someone with a smartphone enters, or opens the door.
  3. The biggest barrier to widespread adoption to the beacon technology is the requirement for users to permit communication between their device and the beacon. The users have to turn on their mobile device’s Bluetooth and enable location services on their phones using the relevant app and accept to receive the indoor or in-store notifications.
  4. Very few people understand what Apple’s iBeacon is since it still doesn’t have a physical manifestation. Apple’s iBeacon is not in the form of tangible physical hardware, rather it’s in-built inside the Apple devices and integrated within the iOS7 operating system. There are over 200 million Apple devices out there that already can be used as transmitters and receivers. There are also other 3rd party beacons devices that can send iBeacon messages to iOS devices.
  5. More players are launching their beacon devices, turning up the heat on the competition on Apple’s iBeacon. It is said that both PayPal and Qualcomm are set to launch their beacon devices in the market. There are also other small vendors like Swirl, GPShopper and Estimote, who are not only making beacon devices, but also give consultation services on top of the hardware and software services.
  6. Beacons’ applications can be so widespread. They can be used around the airport and ground transit hubs, especially in areas with low cell signal strength. To give people notifications instantly via their phones on departures, delays and gate and platform assignments.

This article was first featured on Business Insider (BI), to get more information follow this link.

You may also like