If you find yourself encountering with the following questions, then read on to druthers know their answers:
– Why are beacons so important and what actually makes them attractive for the marketplace?
– How do beacons work? How can you decide if your business is ready to use beacons or not?
– What are the various problems that beacons can help you solve in your business?
– Where are beacons being used industries like retail, healthcare, hospitality, travel, and education?
– Who are the people and businesses that are responsible to bring Beacon technology into the market?
We are aware that Businesses are constantly on the lookout for the latest segment of technology, to gain a larger share of the market. Beacons hold a potential promise for businesses related to Retail, Healthcare, Travel, and Educational.
This blog post will take you on a journey involving everything about Beacons further illustrating the why, how, where, who and what of the beaconing phenomenon in great details. With practical examples as well as case studies, ChromeInfotech presents you a synopsis on Beacons, to help you decide if you should jump on the bandwagon, just yet or not.
Beginning of Beacon
The term Beacon (Noun |bea·con | \ˈbē-kən\) can be defined as ‘an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract the attention to a specific location’. Beacons are designed to attract notice or gain attention. When used in marine navigation, beacons are the lighthouses that emit visible light to beware the sailors of the shoreline. Whereas, in a commercial application, beacons are small Bluetooth radio transmitters of signals that other Bluetooth-enabled device, like a smartphone, can “see”.
The beacons that we discuss here started at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 when Apple pioneered the concept and launched its proprietary protocol known as iBeacon. Google followed with Eddystone, an alternative protocol that is pitched as an open and Cross-Platform protocol.
[Note: None of the two companies make Beacons themselves]
As it is, most beacons can broadcast in both the formats and you just need a click to switch between the two above-mentioned.
Since then, the Beacons are being touted as – The missing piece in the whole mobile-shopping puzzle. From Online to Offline, or O2O commerce, has largely been a myth until now, but Beacons offer simple and practical ways to integrate the two experiences for consumers. That’s why Beacons are positioned to change not only how we shop, but also how we travel, attend events and even avail medical care.
Statistics show the actual scale of Beacon adoption (With the number of devices, beacon-enabled sales, the infographic of all organizations using Beacons)
- Approximately 570 Million Android and Apple smartphones are compatible with Bluetooth low energy (BLE)
- Beacons generated a $44 Billion worth of sales in 2016, compared to $4 billion in 2015
- Around 6,061,500 beacons deployed currently, projected to increase to 400 million+ by 2020
- Millenials have estimated to spend about $200 billion annually, according to a 2017 study.
Working of Beacons
To understand how the beacons actually work, first, consider beacons as micro-computers. A beacon’s processor is designed to transmit an ID using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Since it performs only a single type of computer instruction, it can then perform a high number of computations, consuming only a fraction of power as compared to other devices.
So, a beacon operates on a battery and transmits IDs using radio waves. These waves can be picked by your smartphone if it is enabled by Bluetooth Low Energy. The smartphone understands the IDs transmitted by these waves and uses the information in the ID to execute certain instructions that you have defined separately on the app server.
The ID transmitted by the beacon has a completely different structure, depending upon the Beacon protocol you’re using. In case of iBeacon protocol, the ID contains information about the retailer that the beacon is associated with (Universally Unique Identifier or UUID), the store you’re in (Major), and your location within that store (Minor). Eddystone adds a compressed web URL to this information. Beacons using Eddystone framework don’t need a dedicated app to communicate with a smartphone. Instead, they make use of the Physical web and send you directly to a website.
While selecting a Beacon, and deploying them physically, you also need to consider the advertising interval with the broadcasting power of the beacon.
The advertising interval is what determines how frequently the beacon transmits IDs to the smartphone. It ranges from 20 ms to 2000 ms. An iPhone detects a new message every second. If the beacon has an advertising interval of 350 ms, it’s optimal setting, it will send 3 message to your iPhone every second. You need a higher advertising interval of the beacon where you suspect a higher level of noise between the beacon and a customer’s smartphone.
The broadcasting power of a beacon informs us about the relative power or strength of the signal that the beacon will transmit. A beacon with high broadcasting power has a higher chance to get heard in noisy settings but also consumes more power. The broadcasting power is measured in dBm and ranges from -40 to +4.
When the smartphone receives a signal, it assesses the strength of the signal to determine how close you are to the beacon. It uses a value called the RSSI that stands for Received Signal Strength Indicator, for the purpose. It compares the received signal against the benchmark RSSI for a distance of 1 meter from the beacon. Instead of calculating the exact distance, iBeacon framework assigns the received signal into a proximity zone.
The below table illustrates the Four Proximity Zones, which you can trigger a different action for each of these 4 zones:
|Proximity Zone||Distance from the Beacon|
|Immediate||Very close to the beacon.|
|Near||About 1 to 3 meters away from the Beacon.|
|Far||More than 3 meters away6, or it represents the signal that is fluctuating too much to be estimated accurately.|
|Unknown||This happens if either the smartphone is too far away from the beacon, or the environment has too much noise to calculate properly.|
Beacon manufacturers – Aruba, Estimote, Kontakt.io, Radius Networks – They design and manufacture beacons and offer further software development kits in line with the beacon protocols.
Beacon protocols – Google’s EddyStone and Apple’s iBeacons – Such Protocols offer guidelines for the IDs transmitted by beacons to smartphones.
Beacon platforms – inMarket, BeaconStac – These platforms help to customize marketing messages, in line with the beacon protocol that the beacon uses.
App Development Agency/Firm – ChromeInfotech, an alternative to beacon platform for Medium to Large businesses that intend to own the entire user experience.
We at ChromeInfotech, believe that with Beacons it’s all about providing convenience to the end-users and also digitally empowering them at the same time. As a leading iBeacons App Development Company, we contribute in redefining the client’s Customer Acquisition and Marketing Strategies. Know more about our expertise in iBeacon App Development and Beacons Technology or you can directly get in touch with our team Here.