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Beacons – Where They Are Used

Companies of all sorts have started deploying Beacons that (at a minimum) tell a smartphone precisely where it is so that an app can act on the specific location.  Its uses far surpass the one that has grabbed most of the media attention:  tracking shoppers to provide tailored sales pitches and coupons at specific locations of stores.

Numerous implementations have been advertised in the last year, with the US leading the way in beacon integration.  Marketing and loyalty drive the most common purposes at the moment, with some examples:

    • Macy’s is rolling out beacons across their stores in the US, for in-store marketing and loyalty.
    • Major League Baseball are using beacons in their ballparks to offer fans the ability to check in, know where venders are and get additional content on their phones.
    • San Francisco airport is using beacons to help blind people navigate.
    • The Swan Centre in the UK became the first shopping mall to use beacons, which allowed them to organize some in-store campaigns for its visitors.
    • New Museum in NYC used beacons to give visitors a realistic minefield experience on their phones, where beacons became ‘virtual mines’.
    • CES 2014 used beacons for virtual treasure hunt.
    • BeHere app allows students to register attendance automatically with their phones in their pockets.
    • Google introduced ‘Physical Web’ which is also using BLE (not iBeacon), to enable users to interact with objects around them (e.g. A ZipCar car, a bus stop, vending machine or fridge at home) without an app by merely walking next to them.
    • Newspapers across the country are offering coupon rewards for paid subscribers at local restaurants and shops.

Beacons aren’t about sending location coordinates but about self-identifying.  It’s up to you what your app does once it knows you’re near a specific beacon.  You decide the context you assign to that beacon.

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