9 Biggest Happenings in Beacons Technology Space in 2014

Bluetooth Low Energy technology holds a great promise for the future in the Beacons Avatar. Though the journey for this disruptive technology has started not long ago, but still beacons have the potential to transform retail, loyalty/offers and payments. You might have already heard about big players like Apple, PayPal and Qualcomm going after Beacons related hardware and software. At Let’s Talk Payments, we have covered the beacon technology from a wide range of perspective over the past year. Here are the big highlights that this year witnessed in beacons:

Samsung poised to take the Beacon world by storm

The technology giant has come up with its own mobile marketing platform dubbed as Samsung Proximity. The platform has been developed with the intent to connect customers with places using Samsung’s location and context-aware technology. The platform has integrated beacon technology from providers such as GigaLane, Radius Networks, ROXIMITY and SWIRL. Samsung is also providing its Placedge SDK to developers to allow apps, installed on Samsung’s devices, to detect beacon devices. Samsung smartphone users can install the Proximity Service app to receive dynamic and relevant information and coupons.

LevelUp adopts iBeacons

LevelUp, known for its mobile payment optimized loyalty programs, adopted beacon technology to further enhance its customer engagement and loyalty platform. LevelUp rolled out customizable iBeacon welcome messaging to enable merchants to connect with customers in a personalized manner. For example, merchants can remind customers that they are oh-so-close to unlocking a loyalty reward, recommend items the customer might enjoy based on their purchase history. Managing the content, duration and frequency of iBeacon messaging all happens in one easy place, within LevelUp’s merchant dashboard.

Clover brings a combination of Beacons + Apple Pay

The First Data owned company had enabled its cloud-based point-of-sale platform to accept Apple Pay In-App payments. Clover launched a first of its kind solution to integrate Apple Pay with iBeacon, using Estimote Beacons. The solution was first offered at a merchant outlet using a custom app. All a user had to do was place an order through the app, complete the transaction using Apple Pay and upon entering the venue, the staff was notified of the user’s arrival via beacons and the order was delivered.

Beacons at Airports

Virgin Atlantic had piloted a program offering beacon based services for its passengers at the London Heathrow Airport. The company placed beacon devices, created by Estimote, over its area in terminal 3 of the airport. The program involved pushing relevant information to users like boarding details, commission discount offers, information on duty-free areas, in-flight crew details, etc.

British Airways also adopted beacon technology at Heathrow Airport to send push notification to the fliers informing them about the gate to be approached and the designated flight, apart from other tips to help fliers around the airport.

While in US, Miami International Airport had beacons installed across multiple areas like entrances, check-in counters, gates, baggage claim carousels and even parking spaces. Travelers can receive precise information on delayed flights, flight arrivals, boarding times and more depending on where they are inside the airport terminals. Passengers can also get real time highly relevant updates in the beaconized areas.

WiFi-enabled Beacons had come up with new form of beacon devices dubbed as ‘Cloud Beacon’, with built-in WiFi capabilities. The new beacons offered features like:

  • Use of built-in Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet
  • Transmission and receipt of data including over-the-air information updates for deployments
  • Extended range up to 200 meters

The use of WiFi also enabled the beacons to upload the collected data to the web and collect anonymous MAC addresses from customers who have Wi-Fi turned on, thereby providing deeper insights.

Beacons in a Grid Structure

Ubudu is about to launch one-of-a-kind mesh beacons in US dubbed as uBeacon Mesh. Mesh beacons use a form of peer-to-peer implementation and can act as a two-way Net-connected grid. The uBeacons can receive data back from consumers’ smartphones without the need for pairing. Simultaneously they can communicate with other mesh beacons as well via Bluetooth. If one of the beacons is connected to the internet, then the entire mesh network gets internet enabled.

Scalable Adoption of Beacons

Macy’s, the popular retailer, has been working with Shopkick to deploy 4000 beacon devices across its 786 locations in US.

Shopkick has achieved a massive beacon installed base of 7500 devices covering 3000 retail stores in US. Shopkick’s retail partners include big brands like American Eagle, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy and many more.

Bookatable, an online booking platform, had rolled out a system of beacon devices across its 119 partner restaurants as part of a festival.

Carlsberg, a popular beer brand, had installed Bluetooth beacons at 250 pubs and bars across Denmark to support its Crowdit offers and venue discovery app.

Beacons Improved Sales at McDonalds

The QSR giant partnered with Piper to deliver coupons to customers using Piper’s beacon technology and custom mobile app. Across its franchises in US, besides coupons, McDonalds is delivering timely alerts, employment opportunities and surveys to customers when they check-in. The launch of this initiative by McDonalds saw 18,000 offer redemptions and increase in sales of some menu items by 7% to 8 %.

Beacons at Unusual Places

Iconeme, owned by Universal Display, had put its beacons dubbed as VM Beacon inside mannequins. Universal Display itself is a prominent mannequin supplier. Iconeme used a white-label app to displays information about the clothing product displayed physically using beacon-fitted mannequins.

Carrefour, a multinational retail-chain operator, and Nisa, a convenience-store group, had beacons are attached to shopping carts and baskets to track shoppers’ in-store movement. Beacons were also attached to the ceiling to work in sync with those on shopping carts. The location data collected by the beacons is transmitted to a cloud-based back-end server for analysis.

Grolsch, a Dutch beer brand, had placed Bluetooth beacons inside bottle caps as part of a unique coupon-code promotion. The promotion enabled customers to sync the beacon inside the cap with their phone or laptop and unlock a free movie to watch.

Titan, a firm that controls many of the phone booths in New York, has placed beacons in the booths in Manhattan, that can be used to track people’s movements. Titan intended to sell ad space through the beacons.