The Ultimate Guide to iBeacon Technology
By Sophie Zoria
Apple's iBeacon technology is one of the most exciting new business innovations today. It expands the horizons of opportunities for both businesses and users. The following guide will explain what iBeacon technology is and what opportunities it opens up.
What is iBeacon?
IBeacon technology is based on the use of Bluetooth Low Energy or Bluetooth LE. Miniature beacons communicate with the user's smartphone via BLE displaying standard notifications on the smartphone or launching a mobile application. When the user's device is in the immediate vicinity of the beacon, it sends pre-prepared information to it. The advantage of iBeacon is that technology virtually eliminates accidental triggering. The beacon sends data to the user only when the person wants it, more precisely, when he/she installs the desired application. Bluetooth LE operates at a distance of 30-50m with an average application channel speed of up to 0.27Mb/s.
For a mobile application developer, an important aspect is that iOS allows applications running in the background to parse and transfer data through the CoreBluetooth framework, which is responsible for the BLE stack. This will allow to detect beacons even if the phone itself is just in the user’s pocket at the moment. The iBeacon tag constantly emits a Bluetooth radio signal, and smartphones detect it at a distance of up to 50 meters and accurately determine the location. An important point for the mobile app development process is that platforms (both iOS and Android) make it possible to obtain signal strength (in decibels), which can subsequently be interpreted as a distance with sufficiently high accuracy.
At the moment, there are three main scenarios for using iBeacon:
The technology is used to convey any information to the user (about new products, special offers, etc.), and makes it possible to build a personal dialogue with the client via a smartphone, thereby creating an ideal environment for customer focus.
The technology can be used as a marketing research tool. iBeacon works like Google Analytics for the real world. Just as IoT in a mobile app, the technology can collect analytics about customer movements. It helps to better understand their needs and create an even more personalized dialogue with them (retargeting). Beacons use the same ad targeting principle when examining Google searches or content on Facebook feed. In the long term, this technology can radically change the trade industry.
The technology allows you to literally lead a customer by the hand through a shopping mall, bank or airport, since iBeacon works great indoors, unlike GPS navigation.
Note that these are only the main scenarios for using technology as iBeacon features allow you to count on much broader use of sensors in your daily life
Who Will Benefit from iBeacon?
Beacons are most effective for companies in the retail and service industries. However, their capabilities are much wider. Any physical object can transmit information about itself to the user's mobile device thus allowing it to benefit from real-time mobile app features. In addition, there are beacons suitable for outdoor use. This greatly expands the potential for using the technology:
Museums: iBeacons greatly simplify the work of the guide and the process of perception of new information by visitors.
Hospitals and medical centers: Placing beacons near doctors' offices will allow patients to get a brief info about the specialist, and vice versa, when approaching the patient's ward, the doctor will receive the necessary medical history.
Restaurants and cafes: Creating a virtual menu containing additional information about dishes (calories, fats, carbohydrates) and drinks is a great marketing move in the time of Covid-19 outbreak.
Hotels and resorts: The convenience of using iBeacon technology will be appreciated by employees and guests of hotels if with its help they develop a system of "check-in" and "check-out" and a platform for choosing leisure and tours.
Car dealerships and car rental: iBeacon can help you find your rental car in an airport parking lot by leaving a beacon in it. Also, beacons can be placed in the showroom of a car dealership and inform customers about the price and configuration of a particular car.
Educational institutions: iBeacon can be implemented in educational institutions to provide students with useful information about class schedules and changes to it, important announcements, and menus in the university cafeteria.
This is far from a complete list of the features that iBeacon provides. Hopefully, it will help you understand exactly how you want to introduce technology into your business. If you have not yet decided on this issue, conduct a deep analysis and find out how this technology will be useful for you!