Beacons – they can also make you a coffee

There is a big step between a Demo solution and a Commercial solution, and it all revolves around the App. The App is the crucial component in the solution, and should both entice people to download it, and also want to configure and use it habitually. Beacons can be used for many applications (Marketing, Loyalty, Payment, Wallet, and Analytics) and therefore by many companies, so finding the right App is not easy and there is a risk that both the market and users get confused. The ‘industry’ – and we can debate what this industry is – should take steps to ease this confusion. Regarding the Beacon Eco-system there are 2 ways this could evolve to suit our specific purposes. In one, we would receive Beacon ID’s and their Locations through co-operations with Point-Of-Sale/Point-Of-Interest (POS/POI) owners. Then we can create new Campaigns, or enhance existing LBA Campaigns, with sharper in-store locations. This is more of a closed-system model and it has advantages in indirectly regulating the amount of notifications received.
In another open-system model, the thinking is that Beacon aggregators will emerge, and provide these ID’s and locations in the future, in a similar manner to what happened with Wi-Fi. With Wi-Fi location the market evolved to support independent aggregators of Wi-Fi Access points and their locations (e.g. Google, Nokia, Skyhook, Navizon,…), that were collected via drive-testing or crowd-sourcing. The risk to such an open approach, is that some POS/POI owners are already encrypting or regularly changing their Beacon ID’s, and making them only known to ‘approved’ Apps, such as their own or partners. As the owners of the POS/POI and the Beacons themselves, they have every right to do this. However, such closed systems can risk high fragmentation – potentially holding back development of the Beacon ‘market’ in general. We have already seen that simply talking about Beacons and building a Demo has generated a lot of interest and discussions, and created positive engagement with Partners. Beacon deployments will continue to grow, supported by major players and due to their characteristics around range and cost. Their unique talents were brought home when our running Demo notified me each morning just as I sat down at my desk, that I had an offer from the local supermarket that we’d mocked-up for the demo. Having worked with many Location technologies over the years, none of them could have delivered this message with such timing and precision, either due to inaccuracy (Cell-ID, Wi-Fi), Indoor coverage challenges (GPS), or limited range (NFC). If Beacons can do this simple task better than all the other technologies, then there is probably a lot more that they are uniquely suited to supporting. They make not a bad coffee, either. By John Craig Manager Product and Marketing at Media Services