Beacon and iBeacon
Everyone knows today the names RFID, NFC, GPS, WLAN, Bluetooth, etc. Now, something apparently new is coming: A beacon or iBeacon, which are based on well-known Bluetooth technology. Both are terms for Bluetooth-based wireless communication technology. In this article, we will demonstrate the beacon application detailedly.
You walk along the shelves in the supermarket and your smartphone makes itself felt and shows on the shelf on the top right in front of you, the egg ravioli only today and tomorrow at a bargain price is available. Or you are on a city break, standing in front of the landmark of Venice, you can read the Campanile and on the display of your smartphone that the world-famous tower collapsed in 1902 and was rebuilt until 1912 and is 99 meters high. Does this sound utopian in your ears? No, not at all. The future of the beacon application has already started. you think now sure, what’s the point? Are we not enough in everyday life with information and advertising is flooding and, as a mobile contemporary, is increasingly becoming a glass Homo Sapiens.
The following article is intended to show where the opportunities and risks of beacon technology, and whether it is also used in public transport. The word beacon is derived from the English term for “beacon”. The brand name is iBeacon, a proprietary standard for indoor navigation introduced by Apple Inc. in 2013, based on Bluetooth Low Energy, both terms are used identically. Beacon network are small transmitters that can send messages and information to mobile devices.
No GPS signal or mobile phone connection is required. For example, at the train station or for tourist sights or in the museum about a specific work of art information tailored to the customer can be played on a smartphone or tablet.
Beacons are based on a transmitter-receiver principle and are “electronic beacons”. To small transmitters are placed in a certain room as signal transmitters, which are fixed Intervals send Bluetooth signals. The transmitter itself cannot receive any data. Come in the receiver, e.g. a smartphone with an installed app for receiving beacon signals is configured within the range of a transmitter, the receiver can control the transmitter and signal strength determine. In this way, the position of the recipient can be determined. Are at least three beacons in the Range of the receiver can be determined by comparing the signals of the three transmitters over time to calculate the position of the receiver in two-dimensional space. To determine a location in a three-dimensional space, four beacons within the range are required. It is, therefore, possible that determine the distance between receiver and transmitter in real-time. When entering or leaving an area of sending beacons becomes an installed app on a smartphone ‘Notified’ even if the app and device are not active. Beacons only work if the user has activated Bluetooth on his smartphone and allows Beacon-enabled apps to receive and display push notifications.
The underlying technology, Bluetooth Low Energy, is compatible with iOS5 and Android 4.3 and up is extremely energy efficient. Depending on signal strength, the measured distance to the beacon is divided into three categories, “immediate” to 50 centimeters, “near” up to 2 meters and “far” up to 70 meters. Beacons can also be used where GPS signals do not work reliably or only to a limited extent, e.g. inside buildings. WiFi and near field Communication (NFC) also work precisely but have the disadvantage of being high power consumption and application limitations with a short range of only up to 20 centimeters.
The following table shows the beacon technology compared to NFC and GPS. It shows that this technology also has its advantages:
|Works with Bluetooth 4.0 LE enabled
|Works with NFC-enabled devices|
|Signal range of a few centimeters
up to 70 meters
|Terminal must be a few centimeters from
an NFC terminal
|Possibilities for in-store marketing, indoor mapping or navigation||
Processes transactions, none
|Are easy to build and affordable
|Expensive investment in NFC-enabled POS
|Target determination in the micro range possible||Target determination in the macro range possible|
|Works indoors and in buildings||Works outdoors but receives
less good signals in buildings
|Very accurate within 30 meters||GPS triangulation is inaccurate|
|low energy consumption||High energy consumption|
The possible uses of beacons are diverse: Below are a few areas of application:
Information transfer (location-specific push messages)
Real-time information in public transport, air traffic
Shopping guide, indoor navigation, customer guidance, analysis of walking routes
Applications in private households (control lights, devices, heating, etc.)
Social community functions
Analyzes of customer behavior
Beacon application in public transport
‘Location-Based Services’ (LBS) are becoming an increasingly important function in public transport take in. Under ‘Location-Based Services’ (LBS) or Location Dependent Services (LDS) one understands mobile, location-based services, with the help of position-dependent, provide data to the end-user with selective information or provide other services.
Transport companies want to provide their customers with more information. The better informed a passenger is the more satisfied he is with the services offered.
Starting a trip and planning it mostly uses the Internet as a source of information, the smartphone or tablet is increasingly used once on the go. High-quality real-time information for travelers is, therefore, becoming increasingly important. The SBB tests time
Beacon application in traffic
In the aviation industry, Beacon technology can be applied at the Airport. Notes appear on the iPhone for flight information, the next information desk or how long the waiting time at the security check is. The boarding pass appears at the departure gate on the smartphone. Annoying searches in your pocket or jacket are no longer necessary. Others too, Airlines are testing the new technology for location-based information.
Beacon application in retail
With the beacon application, it is possible to change buying habits or customer behavior in different areas of application. Customers often leave a store without anything to buy. Beacons offer the possibility of capturing future potential customers and gaining experience bring which products or services they are interested in. For example, buying habits such as length of stay, stay, preferences and other factors with the help of beacons be recorded and saved. The customer can get attractive product offers, reviews and test reports, product information and real-time information are sent to the smartphone via push message. The data become exact products and services transmitted in the immediate vicinity of which the smartphone owner is.
Beacons make it possible for providers to provide customers with relevant, up-to-date, location-based and real-time and personalized content directly on your smartphone. Thus, customer loyalty increased and sales increased. Besides push messages are image, HTML, video and text transmissions are also possible as soon as the customer, for example, approaching a product in a store.
Beacon application in cashless payment
In the future, the beacon devices will become customers when they travel, shop or purchase services support. Contactless payment is already possible today using Near Field Communication (NFC) and a corresponding chip on the mobile devices possible. Cashless payments should in future beacons are also possible. With the help of Bluetooth, the payment data should be between customer and seller are exchanged. It is quite conceivable that this is the transaction form of the future. Apple, for example, has so far not installed any NFC chips in its mobile devices. Become iBeacons ready for series production and integrated into all Apple products, the company could with its to completely replace market power as a mobile payment system. Whether the vision, the payment To make it completely invisible, but to be able to be realized, is to be questioned, especially since the aspects security and data protection require further clarifications. Using a pre-installed app and one-time authorization or registration should in future be given to a customer with a “service provider” automatically ‘check-in’ and can pay without having to take his smartphone in hand.
Due to the greater range of beacons of up to 70 meters, the annoying queue at the cash register unnecessary and not even the credit card would have to be taken on hand.
Beacon application in marketing
Beacons are already in use in many places to locate visitors in a shop and to send location-dependent offers to the respective end device. For example, beacons are used in Hamburg Airport, which measures the time spent in various shops and rewards them with prizes.
In turn, some events navigate visitors using beacon technology. This use is particularly noticeable at events in the digital industry.
In addition, PayPal is working with PayPal Beacon on automatic payment. This innovation connects the customer with the business and allows automatic processing via PayPal without coming into contact with the cash register.
Beacon application in flexible e-commerce
Beacon technology in e-commerce – differentiation factor or gimmick?
Companies want to personalize the shopping experience of their customers across all channels through the skillful use of technologies and thus make them more intuitive and emotional. The aim is to pick up the customer where he is: with a personal approach, a more targeted finding of the right products, relevant advertising and discount campaigns at the location of the product, as well as mobile payment methods.
At the same time, employees should be informed in real-time about missing inventory and be able to control flexible pricing with digital price tags. These ideas are not new: As part of their “Retail Future Vision”, the think tank Officelabs from Microsoft sketched this vision ten years ago. But this scenario will only become real today, or in the coming months and years, with the help of beacons technology or similar approaches.
Beacons: drivers for location-based services
Beacon technology enables companies to design location-based services. Beacons work according to the lighthouse principle: They send signals to end devices that are nearby and thus initiate interaction options with the potential customer.
Risks and opportunities of beacon technology
Beacons are another step in the connection between the real and virtual worlds. The technology is still in its infancy and is not yet known to the masses. Beacons are coming already used in large US department store chains. The versatile application options the decisive factor will be that the new technology continues to develop and common. It will affect all service sectors globally. Smartphones are becoming a control center for communication and mobility. By 2020 it will be over 3 billion worldwide.
Internet and smartphones are changing expectations and the information behavior of modern mobile people. The success of beacon technology depends on the willingness of the consumer, advertising and allowing information on his “mobile device” and thus the encroachment on his privacy. The user must actively release their smartphone and install the corresponding apps. Consequently, he has the opportunity to actively decide whether he wants it or not. Too high a probability advantages such as ‘convenience’ for the customer and the multitude of possible applications outweigh and concerns about privacy and intrusion on privacy are secondary.
Beacons are inexpensive and will soon be available for little money and are easy to install. she has the advantage over other technologies that no critical information is transmitted or be saved. Beacon technology will change the everyday life of everyone.
Beacon signals overlap
The placement and configuration took a day. Because the relatively small rooms of the winery also posed problems for the makers: the signals from the beacons overlap because there is an echo on the walls. WLAN transmitters also influence the beacon signal.
The selectivity of the beacons – in practice the specialists calculate a minimum distance of one to five meters depending on the device – is often a problem that should not be underestimated.
The agency has equipped the seven floors in the stairwell of its office building as well as the elevator and entrance with beacons and announced a competition for the hardest-working stair climber. At the door and in the elevator, employees received a message that should motivate them to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Finally, messages were fired up in the stairwell.
The possible uses of beacons seem unlimited. The new technology is for the customers easy to use, is innovative and “state-of-the-art” and works both under iOS and Android too. The smartphone is developing into the dominant communication and information medium. In public transport, it is already a carrier to some extent electronic tickets. Bluetooth technology is not a new invention. Beacon or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) offers apparently many advantages for mobility whether for in-house navigation or for check-in processes or pairing smart devices with mobile phones. With the help of beacons, the traveler can be more targeted and get more up-to-date real-time information. You can change the location of a passenger when entering and leaving register to disembark. By using this technology, traveling and buying one driving authorization may be simplified. The future, travel for customers to simplify, certainly lies in the combination of different information technologies. The beacon could be one of them. It will be interesting to see how and where beacons really get going become.