iBeacon Applications

This is the third in a series of articles on iBeacons (or Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons), describing the current application landscape, by industry sector.

If you need to get up to speed first, check out our introduction to iBeacons, or practical guide.

Real World Applications

Though iBeacon is still a relatively new technology, there have been a number of high profile deployments. We've selected some of these to give a flavour of the different types of application being implemented with iBeacons today.

Many of these share common features and we've tried to highlight unusual or interesting ones. It's clear that many organisations are in a trial phase to establish which features are going to prove compelling and engage customers, whilst not proving too intrusive.

The end goal might be that consumers of all kinds embrace location-aware apps and messaging, so that companies can reap the benefits of the data generated as a side effect. However, right now the focus seems to be on providing or enhancing service and thereby promoting adoption.

It's important to note that these examples all follow a pattern of being specific to a company or organisation, with the requirement that users have installed that organisation's mobile app.

Retail

Retail is currently being seen as the major use case for beacons, and it's easy to see why. In practical terms, navigation can be problematic in large stores and shopping malls - providing location-aware assistance is an obvious application.

However, paired with loyalty card data, stores would be able to push offers, suggestions and reminders targeted not only by location, but also by purchase history and buying patterns.

Taking this full circle, if retail venues can successfully promote adoption of such location-aware apps, they stand to gain huge volumes of new data on consumers' in-store habits that can be used to optimise layouts and future promotions.

Apple

Apple was a pioneer in this area in 2013, deploying iBeacons in 254 US stores. These worth with the Apple Store app and the focus is on providing customer service - for example, providing additional product info and notifications about Genius Bar appointments or repairs ready for pick up. Apple have said that they do not collect data about customers' movements.

They are currently updating the beacons in their stores - a move that is likely tied to a mobile payments initiative and the release of the iPhone 6.

More Retail

Food and Drink

iBeacons could guide patrons to their seat, flag that they are seated, offer mobile ordering and payment, and work in conjunction with existing online management systems to streamline processes and enhance data on customer activities.

Travel

Arts and Culture

Sports

And More

Conclusion

Clearly there are already many applications being built using iBeacons in a range of industries and contexts. However this is only the beginning, and it should also be obvious that there are countless opportunities in diverse areas like education, conferences, accessibility, logistics, people management, healthcare, gaming and public services.

There is evidence that Apple is continuing to support and further the technology, and we'll be looking out for hints amongst the announcements at Apple's iPhone 6 event tomorrow!

In our next post, we're going to take a look at the future of iBeacon...