Like all the industry stats, projections and figures for the Beacon chip enabled devices have already started rolling in, and by introducing iBeacon Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is seems to have grab the biggest chunk of the pie. Still in its nascent stage though, iBeacon is one of the latest technology that Apple is using as a major point in the retail space. By December 2013, all the 254 Apple retail stores in the US had iBeacon tracking installed. The technology of iBeacon is quite interesting. Consider yourself standing in a retail store, and out pops a map of the store guiding you with the things where they are kept. However, this technology is not only relevant to retail stores but can be used at various other places. ABI Research forecasts the overall shipments of BLE Beacon devices to reach 60 million by 2019.
iBeacon, Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) wireless technology, with Apple’s iOS devices has far more potential than NFC (Near Field Communication) as the farther is capable of tracking devices in far wider range. This allows business owners to have greater access to their customers’ likeness, behaviour and habits.
Retail Is the Smallest Market For iBeacon
“It may surprise many to see that retail is the smallest market covered in the report. In building terms, many stores are relatively small in comparison to a corporate office or hospital, while the items being tracked i.e.consumers, are already BLE-enabled through their smartphones, further limiting the number of beacons required,” said Senior analyst Patrick Connolly.
Beacons are basically hardware devices that can be detected by nearby mobile devices and apps. But, devices running on Android OS can only receive the iBeacon advertisements but cannot transmit them. However, their functionality enables them for far greater uses in the museums, hospitals, nearby eateries, conferences, hotels and rallies etc.
- Museums: iBeacons installed near exhibits can offer detailed information about the displayed stuff and can directly link to a website for more information.
- Restaurants and Coffee Shops: Before even reaching the eatery, iBeacon can alert you about the options available in the menu with calorie count and carbohydrate intake. In addition to that, they can also be used to alert the user about the nearby options available.
- Conferences: iBeacons can be installed to keep everyone updated about the schedule regarding meetings or talks. It can also be synced with e-mail for directly updating stuff.
- Smart home: iBeacons can be used to configure anything inside a home even when you are not in it.In the Apple version of smarthomes all the devices will be linked to iPhones and iPads.
With 60 million shipments, ABI Research is forecasting the hardware revenue to be approximately $500 million benefitting an array of start-ups and developers who are closely working with the iBeacon technology.
Not Everything about iBeacon is Good
Gadgets talking to gadgets is a good thing but gadgets prying into our private lives is not. Technologies such as Beacon are a huge intrusion in our daily lives. iBeacon will allow companies to mine and use data about Apple’s iOS devices users’ in real time pinpointing to a users exact location and throwing out relevant ads and messages. Most of the users do not prefer that kind of intrusion. Though the iBeacon can be turned off but for that users have to either turn the Bluetooth off or uninstall the app. In addition to that, though the iBeacons work on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), it still be eating a part of our perpetually battery drained smartphones.
All said and done, work on iBeacon is in fast in progress. iBeacon enabled devices could revolutionize retail and hospitality industry by delivering users information about the products that they are browsing, ads for additional and potentially competing products, targeted deals, or special deals. But on the flip side they’ll be taking the vital location stats of a user that can cause security issues and significant threat to a user’s privacy.