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What Are iBeacons?

December 01, 2015

what are ibeacons?

Following on from our blog post looking at How Retailers Can Profit From Wi-Fi, it is worth taking a look at the technology that enables this cleverness - iBeacons.

But what are iBeacons?

Small, low cost and with a self-contained power supply that can last two years, iBeacons can be placed anywhere.

Using Bluetooth 4.0 - built into most modern smartphones – they do not require devices to be paired, and operate much like a traditional beacon – sending out signals that identify its location.

When a smartphone enters the iBeacon’s range – anywhere from 2 inches to 50 meters – content is triggered from either a local database or cloud storage.

This content could take the form of a time limited discount on a particular product to encourage an impulse purchase, or information on an exhibit or attraction. This is the approach Kew Gardens takes.

When in range a notification is sent to the user’s home screen – even if the phone is locked. But why is this so exciting?

iBeacons give retailers the opportunity to communicate directly with shoppers in a more precise way, even down to particular aisles or displays a shopper is walking towards.

In commercial offices, an application triggered by an iBeacon might itself trigger the unlocking of doors, turning on lights, activating the coffee maker when your phone goes into the kitchen in the morning, adjusting a building’s central heating from “empty” to “staff is present,” and so on.

The potential applications for iBeacons are endless but relatively new. It was only in 2014, that a US-based grocery store chain installed iBeacons in its shops. This allows customers to receive location-specific information, such as a highly targeted and relevant promotions for a product based on the area of the shop they are located.

But with gathering momentum retailers in the UK are assessing how iBeacons can be used in-store.

If you'd like to read about how profit can be found from in-store Wi-Fi, then download our free whitepaper by clicking below:

Wifi the Future of Retail