Beacon is the fast-growing technology in today’s digitized world. This brings the enterprise nearer to the consumers. This helps the organizations improve their business and services. Beacon technology is applied to a wide variety of industries both retail and service. Beacon platform will improve the customer relationship management since it is directly in touch with the consumer.
Beacons are lighthouse: Yes, a lighthouse acts as a navigator to the sailor. A beacon does the same, with the new technology for various purposes. We will also look in too few examples where Beacons come in to picture, at the end of this article. That might help to understand the clear usage of this Technology. It is a small device that connects with consumers via Bluetooth technology.
Today digital shopping has become a preferred one for many. But still, many shoppers do believe in visiting outlets. Beacons bring in good deals for these set of people.so this way the consumer is happy and retailer increases his business. Thanks to modern technology which makes our life simpler and easier.
How Beacon works
Beacons are a tiny device which is almost the size of a router. It is used to transmit small data within indoors and outdoors as well. But it is widely used in indoor location technology. Data is transmitted via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) up to 50 meters. Hence it is mainly applied to indoor locations.
Beacons are fixed in the shopping mall or any retail outlet, which emits data via BLE. Beacon devices are powered by batteries and can be plugged into the USB port. The constant power supply is not consumed by this device. Apart from these standalone Beacon, other devices such as a smartphone, personal computers and tablets can be a Beacon. Provided that these devices should support BLE in order to send and receive Beacon signals.
When a consumer pass by the outlet where a Beacon device is installed, he or she gets a signal or data regarding the outlet. These signals could be like any promotional data of its product in order to attract the consumer’s attention.so this Beacon acts a digital marketing strategy for his business. All the Beacon will have a unique ID which is registered in the dedicated application. When this ID is sent from the Beacon, a smartphone recognizes the ID. Then the information is communicated.
A Beacon mobile application is known as
- iBeacon App (Apple) – Announced by Apple in December 2013,a mobile application that supports Beacon technology and supported by Apple’s ios.
- Eddystone (Google) – Announced by Google in July 2015, whichsupports the Beacon standard on the Android mobile phones.
What is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
Beacon depends on this Bluetooth Low energy technology. Unlike the regular Bluetooth technology which is used in many devices, this Low Energy Bluetooth consumes less power within a limited range and transfer a small amount of data. Data are transmitted at regular intervals. Amount of data transferred are limited.
Apart from Bluetooth technology, there are other technologies which are used for wireless communication.
- Combined Technologies : Many Beacon makers use multiple protocols for communication rather than applying a single protocol.
- Wi-fi Aware : Wi-fi Aware is an upcoming wireless communication Protocol.Wi-fi enabled devices can send and receive data using wireless connections.The communication is done through internal Wi-fi networks.No mobile data or the Internet will be used in this communication.It is very easy to send and receive data.
- Ultrasound : Ultrasound signal wavelengthhas a short reach.It is basically an indoor positioning system. Compared to wireless communication ultrasound have limited distance.It is best suited for closed environments.Ultrasound signals use microphone sensors for transmission.
Beacon is completely safe and secure.BLE technology in Beacon signals only the users within the store or range and delivers the data to the smartphone of the users. Beacons are authenticated and users have the leverage to change the permissions whereas not in RFID(radio-frequency identification) technology. Beacons are not tracking a user. It just broadcasts the signal in a predefined area of operation.
A Real Life example of Beacon
To use Beacon a Retailer needs:
- Beacon device installed in the store
- Mobile application
- Consumer authentication
- Information to be signaled
Shopping with benefits
When a user steps into a mall or an outlet, the Beacon detects the user smartphone via BLE technology. Next step, if the user is authenticated it sends the information regarding the retail store, which could be anything like offers, freebies, sale or any promotional activity. This information is received by the user via an app of the retail store or any other third party app.
How is retailer benefited
Consumers get tempted or attracted by these messages and check in to the store. This, in turn, increases the business of the retailer and eases out the shopping of the user with the benefits offered by the store. This also helps the retailer in saving the extra cost of an advertisement in print media. The present retail industry is highly benefited by this technology.
Application of Bluetooth Beacon Technology
Bluetooth Beacon technology is applied in various industries and not confined to only retail. Many industries are being benefitted by Beacon. Beacon plays the main role in the service-based organization. Technology has taken the next level in the business. This is really a boon to improve their turnover and customer relation. Here we look into some example where the Beacon Technology is applied
- Hospitality :
Gone are the days we used the keys to unlock the hotel room. Today with Beacon in place the keys are replaced by the smartphone app. With Beacon technology, one can enter and exit the room using a smartphone. Apart from this it can also act as a navigator inside the premises and get the user to the desired location. This will help the hotel to maintain a good customer relationship and gain their hotel ratings.
- Hospitals :
Safety of patients is one of the key responsibility of Hospitals. Beacon used here is for tracking the patients. Here smartphones are replaced by a tracking device. This tracking device needs to be worn by the in-patients all the time so their movement is always under supervision. This will also enhance the security of the Hospital. Beacon technology here will not only track patients but can also track the movements of the equipment. Hospitals can save a lot of money and manpower and in turn save cost to the management.
- Banks :
We do visit banks and stand in queue for our turn. That’s a time-consuming task. So herewith Beacon, this can be very easily handled. With Beacon in the bank and smartphone in our hand queue could be avoided with simple a signal which carries information of our queue status. So that’s it no more waiting for your turn in the queue. This will help the bank to work more smartly and effectively increase the customer service quotient.
- Train Stations :
When we land up in a huge station in an unknown place we are likely to lose the way.so the Train station app and the Beacon will help us to find a solution. The Beacon will detect the smartphone and the desired signal sent will navigate us in the right direction. This will give us a stress-free travel.
- Theme Parks :
Beacon technology can be also used in Theme parks. This will make way for ticketless rides with just a swipe of the Beacon device. It reduces the human intervention in many locations which results in the reduction of manpower cost. This will also ease the mobility & will make the park more technology savvy and less human-dependent.
- Airports :
This technology in the airports is helping to reshape passenger experiences. Leading airports across the globe have already used this Beacon technology for various purposes. This will improvise the airport operations. The Beacons in the airport sends retail and promotional in formations to the passengers. Beacon also facilitates fast access to the security at the airport for gold member. some of the airports where Beacon in place are Miami International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, Hamad International Airport, GVK Airport Mumbai and Tokyo Airport.
Other spaces where Beacon technology can be used are Offices and Events. Beacon technology is used in various ways to ease out the difficult process or increase the business. Today Beacon comes in various types like
- Small Beacons
- USB Beacons
- Standard Beacons
- Parent Beacons
- Special Beacons
Beacon will be the future technology connecting consumers with products and service providers in a seamless way in a more effective way. This technology will find its presence in more and more industries in the coming era.