What are Beacons?

IoT is currently tearing down the walls when it comes to barriers of communication and one upcoming device sure to be of great importance within this segment is that of beacon technology. There are many industries now, like retail and education, that invest in beacon technology and it’s important we understand how it works to make the most of their opportunities. So why do these important pieces of hardware often go unnoticed?

Beacons are small transmitters that use Bluetooth low energy to broadcast radio signals that can be picked up and connected to Bluetooth-enabled devices like smart phones. With these beacon compatible apps, smart devices can trigger certain ad-hoc actions that allow people and things to connect to the internet indirectly. This innovative technology allows a world of connectivity and opportunities for interaction between different devices and software.

Number of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices installed base worldwide from 2015 up till 2025 (in billions):

 

(Statistica, 2019)

Beacons in the office

On a business level, the opportunities of beacon technology are vast. The number of employees who carry their smart phones and smart devices with them on the work floor means that they are increasingly expecting consumer-level quality and attention with enterprise software. With beacons, employees are able to connect with their work environment on a whole new level, including:

  • More convenience. Using beacons, employee access and permission can be streamlined from anything from unlocking doors to accessing important electronic records. This reduces the need for key cards, badges and saves the company and its employees time and resources.
  • Automated spaces. Physical spaces can connect with the people in them, creating a customized environment to fit the individuals needs, including adjusting the temperature, enabling or disabling cameras and activating a person’s computer when they enter.
  • Tracking. What if you were able to know where every piece of equipment was without the need for codes to calculate inventory? Beacons allow you to track down the items employees need to do their jobs and enables businesses to plan more efficiently. The same can be done with people, as employees are able to know the location of each other which promotes connectivity and interaction.

Many companies have already started to integrate this technology in their companies, including:

  • Universal music has integrated beacons in 240 locations, allowing customers to receive personalised messages and offers as they approach any store with the Powa beacon enabled. Universal receive specific insights into their clients shopping habits and history, which provides them with a useful analytics tool.
  • Apple stores in the US have implemented beacons across 254 stores, sending notifications to the customers when they are near to an Apple store as well as personalised offers and promotions. Apple is also developing a feature that notifies the consumer when their device is ready to be picked up from the store.
  • Macy stores has integrated the BLE beacons shopkeep, that notifies customers on the availability of products and offers which allows the company to track the preferences of the customers.
  • Paypal uses its own beacons and app services so that consumers in beacon “zones” can check in, receive promotions, and pay for services.

Beacons and the future of smart cities

By 2050, it’s said that 66% of the global population will be urbanized, with 6.4 billion people living in urban centers which fast increases the need for smart cities. Beacons also play a role in the development of these future spaces, as for a city to be truly smart it must employ infrastructure and services that are highly automated and intelligent. For example, cities can integrate a mesh of beacons that through a private network collect and send data to a more centralized hub. Using Bluetooth as a control device also makes it possible for cities to remotely control different equipment further optimizing efficiencies.  Smart cities don’t rely on one technology, rather than a conjunction of them like WIFI, Bluetooth and more to deliver a new world to its citizens.

Did you know that by 2050, it's reported that 66% of the global population will be urbanized & living in smart cities? @WeAreBrintia

Nowadays, over 90% of smart devices are equipped with Bluetooth long range which can broadcast up to 100m energy efficiency which makes Bluetooth the perfect choice for IoT evolution.

Beacon technology is a good representation of how IoT is fast empowering the world of technology and we will soon see them transforming our work environment. Want to learn more about IoT and their influence? Read about IoT and other upcoming technology here.