Technical simplicity, ease of deployment and price are the keys that are placing iBeacons under the spotlight in many different industries. While the art is shaped and other clear uses are discovered, the 3 most immediate uses of this emerging technology are as follows:
1. Notifications / actions triggered by proximity
SPAM in the physical world come true. Substitutes of the flyer guys in the street. This is the immediate thought of customers. Contextual notifications in the real world, if we go to the most rigorous definition. The idea is that when approaching a certain distance from a beacon, we get a notification about something, such as the availability of a discount coupon.
But it doesn’t all have to be commercial, or for marketing or statistical, or for tracking of users, etc. This goes much, much further: to be able to know our position relative to a beacon and to give us the possibility of using these events to perform other actions, both in the real and virtual world. As the IFTTT guys do with our virtual activities, and its latest support to location as a “this” (trigger), for a “that” (an action).
This week we have started experimenting with the Estimote Developer Preview kit. The kit contains 3 small, beautifully designed Beacondevices that advertise data signal over Bluetooth LE. Most interestingly the devices are compatible with Apple iBeacons, the new micro-location and proximity feature introduced in iOS7.
Estimote Beacon Hardware
On the inside, the first generation of this beacon hardware is based on a 32-bit ARM® Cortex™ M0 CPU. This chip was unveiled by its manufacturer earlier in 2013. It is a small, 56-instruction, low-power chip designed to integrate everyday devices into Internet of Things. One of the key features is that the chip consumes virtually no power when turned on while not actually doing any work. According to ARM, the processor consumes just nine microamps per megahertz, an impressively low amount, providing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-connected devices with years of battery life.
As far as we could find out, Estimote hardware uses Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 system-on-a-chip (SoC). This chip integrates Cortex-M0 CPU, Bluetooth® Low Energy bi-directional radio, 256kB flash and 16kB RAM. This complete stack means the device can communicate over BLE and be re-configured over the air.
Today, at 2:30 p.m. we received our first iBeacon devices!
iBeacon is an indoor positioning system that Apple calls “a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence“. iBeacons can also be used by the Android operating system. iBeacon in a single sentence is a next-generation near-proximity technology that is already compatible with existing mobile devices and that goes beyond NFC.
With iBeacons your mobile app can interact with real-world.
We are one of the first companies in the world that can enjoy them. Inside the good-looking box, a hand-written letter greets us, Jakub Krzych, CEO of Estimote, the company we bought the devices from.
It is wonderful! The world ofInternet of Things is here and right now we are experimenting, playing and brainstorming how they can be useful in real life. Imagine the applications you can create using iBeacons:
Micro-location of people in local retail stores. “Where Google Maps does not reach, the iBeacon does”. Apple is already rolling out their own devices into Apple Stores this week.
Personalized product information and ads delivered to short-range regions into supermarkets and other stores.
Contextual information to people in closed environments. For example, a school, a museum, a company building.
Proximity Games. Find or store information according to certain micro-location coordinates.
Health information delivered to patients and visitors in waiting rooms of hospitals or medical centers. This is a new communication channel based on real-time micro-location.
Locate older people or people with difficulties in their own homes.
Marketing – smart advertising based on proximity on street billboards, bus stops, outdoor ads, etc.
Location of goods in containers, trucks and transportation.
Now our team is working on micro-location features inside our MOCA platform. The features with wide range of applications. Who is in?