How does beacon technology work & does my app need it?

You may have heard of beacon technology before, or maybe you have even received a Google beacon in the post as part of Project Beacon? However, have you ever thought about what it is, how it works, or even whether it is good for you and your business?

In this blog post we will go through a few things:

  • Firstly, what are beacons, and do they work?
  • Secondly, the different types of beacon technology
  • Thirdly, some real-life examples of beacon technology at work.
  • Finally, the benefits that the technology provides.

What is Beacon technology?

Beacon technology was debuted in 2013 by Apple and it has come a long way since. This year, it is predicted by Global Market insights that beacon technology market is set to surpass $25 billion by 2024. Therefore, it is safe to say that beacon technology has a lot of future potential and will be expected to contribute a lot to the marketing industry in the near future.

So what are beacons?… Beacons are small, wireless devices that importantly use low-energy Bluetooth technology to send signals to other smart devices nearby. Simply put, they connect and transmit information to smart devices making location-based searching easier and more accurate.

How does beacon technology work?

The device itself is extremely simple. Each beacon contains a CPU (Central Processing Unit), radio, and batteries. Furthermore, the way it works is by constantly broadcasting out an identifier. This identifier is then picked by the user’s mobile phone and then marks out an important place in the environment. E.g. Shop, Stadium, Airport, etc.

The identifier itself is simply a unique ID that the user’s smartphone recognises. Once connected, the beacon will carry out whatever the instructions are.

Types of beacon technology

Since its inception in 2013, many companies raced to the market to create their own version of the iBeacon (the very first developed by Apple). Therefore, there are now many different types currently out there on the market. Here are some of the biggest types and uses of beacon technology:

Standard beacon 

This looks like a small Wi-Fi and works the best for indoor tracking.  

Portable/small beacon 

This is no bigger than a credit card and suits proximity solutions and asset tracking. 

USB beacon 

This is portable, small, and convenient to deploy and looks like a flash drive.  

Video beacon 

This Bluetooth device, usually plugged to the back of the screen, is a small device aimed at delivering contextual videos and digital signage. 

AI beacon 

This is empowered by machine learning algorithms to detect gestures and movements.

Sticker beacon

The smallest type of beacons, are the perfect solution for asset tracking.

Parent beacon

Looks like a big Wi-Fi router that manages Bluetooth beacon network gathers their data from other beacons, sent it to the cloud storage, and so on. 

Dedicated beacon 

This is the best solution for tracking indoor activities and working in harsh environments since it is resistant to antistatic, UV, water, dust, and other exogenous factors. 

The brand that started it all

Apple in 2013 added its iBeacon to every one of their 250+ retail stores throughout the United States and it was a success. So much so, that a lot of people started developing their own beacon technology (as mentioned above)

Using Bluetooth beacons, the Apple Store is able to send notifications to customers about a number of things, from order and repair completions, to Genius Bar appointments, to iPhone upgrade eligibility and beyond. Things that you might have noticed yourself if you have ever visited a store.

Benefits of Beacon Technology

Below we have listed just some of the benefits that Beacon technology can bring to your business. To find out more of the benefits or to simply see how Beacon technology can improve your app, do not hesitate to get in touch.

  • Improved offline attribution with Google

  • Out-of-store marketing

  • Advanced data gathering

  • Google My Business listing improvement

  • Customer Benefits

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