Beacons beckon. Interact with your surroundings (and get discounts)

Your interaction with the world just entered phase 2.0. Estimote, a Polish start-up, is revolutionizing the mobile world as we know it. The idea is simple.

Beacons are a low-cost piece of hardware — small enough to attach to a wall or countertop — that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet.


Just imagine the possibilities beacons can offer. When going to a store you can find out which products are on sale at a given time, watch videos of the products or even browse product reviews on demand. When at a music festival you could quickly access the concert lineup, check which stages artists will be playing on and much more. How about your companies’ supply chain? If the company decided to change to a demand pull strategy it could implement beacons to control the inventory/stock levels of products at given warehouses or in transit. And these are only the business perspectives!

I believe that beacons will be successful based on 3 key facts:

  1. Over 40% of shoppers look for offers on their mobile devices while they’re in store
  2. Only 5% of in-store shoppers have a retailer’s mobile app installed on their phone
  3. By 2017, roughly half of all in-store transactions will be completed via mobile devices

BI Intelligence conducted some research to find out whether and how Beacons were living up to their expectations. Do they have the power to transform businesses? Some of the more interesting findings are presented below.

  • Beacons could speed up the checkout process with a completely contactless payments system.
  • Consumers would be willing to try out beacons as a mean of automating their homes. Walk into a room with you smartphone and the light turns on. You don’t even have to clap twice anymore…
  • It’s more tricky than expected. You have to have Bluetooth turned on when using Beacons (and we know how fast that kills battery life), you have to accept location services and agree to receiving notifications. The topic is still sticky legally.

The beacon competitive landscape is gaining traction. Apple will most likely soon announce their iBeacons, for which they already have a trademark, Paypall is considering entering the market and small first-movers (including Estimote) are trying to hang on and challenge the giants.

In my opinion beacons will enter our daily lives in the near future. When comparing the low cost of implementation with the big potential benefits it is quite clear that companies will jump at the opportunity to have these products. The only consideration is: will this not be too intrusive into our daily lives? Even more of our data and information will be available to giant corporations…



2 responses to “Beacons beckon. Interact with your surroundings (and get discounts)”

  1. dedierstolk says :

    I personally think that the beacons are a great invention, especially because they can not only be read but can also send ‘push notifications’. When the option to push notifications is not used, companies could also use NFC to show which products are at discount or to check the line-up at a music festival.

    In your blog you state that a disadvantage of the Beacons is that they drain battery life quickly because they use Bluetooth, but this does not have to be the case. The iBeacon for example is build on the Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) technology, which consumes a lot less power. In practice: traditional Bluetooth consumes 1W, whereas Bluetooth LE consumes 0.01 to 0.5W, depending on the use case. This means that a beacon with a 1000mAh battery can function for more than 2 years.

    If you are interested in more statistics, the sources I used are stated below.

    • thegroupofdeath2014 says :

      Yeah, I agree with the idea of NFC enabled communication however I still feel that the main purpose of the beacons is to work as a push notification system. I think that this could revolutionize the whole retail industry (and not only).

      To be honest I was not aware of the bluetooth methods however isn’t it the case that the Bluetooth LE technology drains little battery from the beacon itself? The bluetooth function of the phone drains the phone batteries as (most) phones do not have the LE system…

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