Beacon technology: small devices, big possibilities
Beacons are small electronic devices that repeatedly transmit Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals. Bluetooth-equipped devices or objects can pick up these signals, allowing the indoor localization and tracking of both people and assets.
Beacon technology emerged in 2013, when Apple introduced the iBeacon standard. Since then, plenty of new players have entered the market. While the technology was slow to catch on at first, companies are now beginning to see the wide range of possibilities it has to offer.
Beacon technology was first picked up by retailers, who use it to pinpoint the locations of customers in or near stores. They use beacon signals to send proximity-based notifications such as coupons or personalized offers.
While in-store shopping experience is an obvious application, beacons also hold promise for other sectors and are poised to transform how businesses and institutions operate.
Business applications for beacons
- Tracking & tracing: beacon signals can be received by smartphones, but are also compatible with small bracelets or beacons cards. This allows enterprises to track and trace both people and equipment in real time.
- Positioning and navigation: beacons can pinpoint the exact locations of employees or visitors, allowing them to share their locations with other people or navigate to a specific location.
- Communication: beacons can play a major part in internal communications. Alerting someone when a visitor arrives or sending messages to colleagues in a particular area, for example, can greatly improve collaboration.
- Data collection: beacons can give you insights about the number of people that pass a location each day, which areas are most or least popular, what the busiest hours are, etc. This data in turn allows you to make smart improvements to infrastructure, staff allocation, etc.
- Intelligent buildings: people may be forgetful, but beacons are not. Companies can deploy beacons to turn automated buildings into intelligent buildings.
The technology promises to evolve quickly, so businesses should begin by exploring the many possibilities beacons have to offer.
The applications listed above are still just tip of the iceberg. Beacons are simple and cheap devices, but with the right software, they open up a world of opportunities. Combined with IoT sensors, the scope widens even further.
Whether you’re aiming for operational excellence or improved customer experience, beacons can help. The technology promises to evolve rapidly, so in order to unlock future value, businesses should begin by exploring the many possibilities beacons have to offer.
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