Technology moves faster pace than we can ever fathom. When put to use intelligently it evolves the way we live and work. With the advent of mobile devices, computing and solutions driven by information technology combine innovative techniques to become comprehensive. Beacons completely change the ways of communication indoors and iBeacon application development comes of age.
Of Beacons & iBeacons
Beacons are a low-cost pieces of hardware, small enough to attach to a wall, surface or countertop utilizing battery-friendly Bluetooth connections to transmit messages directly to a smartphone or tablet in the vicinity.
They transform how retailers, event organizers, transit systems, enterprises, and educational institutions communicate with people indoors. Consumers might even want to deploy them as part of home automation systems.
iBeacon is Apple’s implementation of Bluetooth low-energy wireless technology to create a different way of providing location-based information and services to iPhones and other iOS devices. iBeacons arrived with iOS7, which means they work with iPhone 4s or later, iPad, iPad mini and iPod touch. iPhone Beacon apps change the way apps get developed to cater to a different class of requirements all together.
The Technology behind Beacons
BLE and BLE communication are the core of the Beacons and the iBeacon app development projects.
Bluetooth Low Energy is a wireless personal area network technology used for transmitting data over short distances. As the name implies, it is in fact designed for low energy consumption and hence cost, while maintaining a communication range similar to that of its predecessor; the Classic Bluetooth.
BLE communication consists primarily of Advertisements, or small packets of data, broadcast at a regular interval by Beacons or other BLE enabled devices via radio waves.
BLE Advertising is a one-way communication method. Beacons that want to be discovered broadcast, or advertise self-contained packets of data periodically. These messages are collected by mobile devices like smartphones or tablets through various apps to trigger push messages, app actions, and prompts.
BLE Vs Bluetooth
Interesting Uses of the Beacons
Just like any other technology, this effective technology finds different applications and can be put to use in many different ways. Beacon based use cases are interesting and disrupt the on-premise customer engagement approach.
Enhancing Retail & In-Store Experiences
A customer entering the brick and mortar store needs to be engaged judiciously with the preferences, predicted behaviors and buying patterns put into a perspective.
Beacons transmit appropriate messages to keep up the interest of the customer moving around in the store luring to buy more.
Greet a customer upon entering the store, usher in and take charge of this person, just as a sales person would. Besides informing the customer about the new arrivals in the products of interest, he is also informed about discounts and spot deals. The person is guided through the store to alleys and shelves where preferred products are showcased.
After purchase coupons and discounts for the next visit or offers for friends are also designed to be transmitted with beacons. Queues, especially at the payment counters, changing rooms or wait for the order to arrive are made interesting by constant conversation through beacons and storytelling of sorts. This idle time is made interesting by sharing information of the upcoming events, happenings at the store, spot contests or even get social with find a friend in store activities and more.
And as a savior of sorts, beacons placed near the parking areas help the visitors with detailed parking information and assistance
Personalized Education with Beacons
Right from helping students to find their ways about the campuses and gain access into restricted places, beacons change the way things happen on a campus. They provide interesting information related to the key landmarks on campus as well.
iPhone iBeacon apps radically change the way teaching and studies happen delivering relevant education content to specific students, identified by their smartphones or tablets enable a new level of personalized education. They can be integrated into specialized CRMs for the Education industry.
Attendance tracking is automated too, saving a lot of time. The best thing is that the Beacons are used to restrict device access at locations. When a teacher with this device enters the classroom, all student devices through Mobile Device Management are restricted to textbook based apps.
Notifications of class schedules or reschedules of classes are delivered to the students in question. Alerts for events and check in are smartly coordinated without the hassles of phone calls, emails or messages.
On the campus bookstores and food stores replicate the retailing model followed by the use of beacons as well.
Out of the World Experiences for Hospitality, Travel & Tourism
These interconnected industries get a definite makeover by putting beacons to prudent use.
Beacons and iBeacons offer engaging guest experiences by integrating into the hospitality solutions offered by hotels and restaurants. In a hotel, right from check-in, to in-stay to checkout and beyond, beacons offer the correct connect with the guests and prove to be more than convenient to them.
Outside restaurants beacons are used to bring up information related to people waiting or in the vicinity and give suggestions for orders and also display their usual orders. Automated check-in is facilitated in hotels upon arrival for loyal customers improving their experiences as loyal customers. Meal preferences, activities on premise and other special offers are shared using this personalized technique. Hotels also look into integrating access into rooms using beacons, avoiding the need of a key.
Pin pointing visitors to areas of interest, self-guided tours at venues or walking tours are smartly integrated using beacons. Beacons identify the native languages of the travelers and be of better help. Information about rest rooms in the vicinity, locating help with police, doctors & pharmacies and even access recommendations like lifts are relayed to the visitors.
Beacons and iPhone iBeacon Apps installed at airports and railway stations offer information about location and access to check-in counters and boarding gates. Passengers are cautioned if their timing is poor and are likely to miss their journeys. Delays and rescheduling information is relayed to passengers with constant updates in case of disrupted services.
Better tracking of lost luggage is also possible with beacons.
Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies promote free check-ups to by passers. Hospitals offer detailed maps with elevators and guides and promote patient education events or camps happening on the venue.
Getting Smarter at Work Using Beacons
Beacons are put to use on Enterprise premises in innovative ways. Employees gain access to areas and are made aware of each other’s location avoiding the need to swipe cards at check points using beacons. Practical networking at conferences and events using beacons proves advantageous at events and conferences.
Conference rooms relay the availability and bookings are made quite easily, avoiding the cycles of requests and confirmations. Before or after meetings, beacons are used to deliver the relevant reading material to the correct users.
When it comes to Production and Manufacturing, beacons relay relevant statuses to the people in charge making their work faster and easier.
In a Nutshell
Beacons combine with mobile devices and offer improved lifestyles to all. Time saving tips outside and directed efforts to improve efficiency at workplace go a long way to enhance the way we live and work and making these tiny devices quite popular. It is not a surprise then, that Beacon and iBeacon application development is a popular technique today.
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