Apple made the BLE Beacons popular with their iBeacons, which got implemented by some retailers, brands and adtech players. There was a big buzz in the technology space and it was termed as the holy grail of proximity marketing. This was earlier this year and in 2013 as well. Then came iPhones with NFC and Apple Pay without a mention of iBeacons. Before Apple launched Apple Pay, it was expected that Apple would bring more effective use of beacons to payments. But Apple Pay seems to have left beacons by the wayside and has adopted NFC, leading to more speculation as to how Apple will adopt beacons in the future. Suddenly it was hard to see any news on Beacons even with their rockstar status in the recent past. But it truly is a great technology if implemented in the right fashion and there is one company that certainly has a headstart - Estimote. Its too early to rule out the ability of beacons to power proximity and make content actionable.
Estimote recently unveiled a new set of software tools and services to deploy and manage beacon networks more efficiently. Its a new platform from Estimote. There are numerous players currently which are developing hardware beacons. But the differentiation comes in the form of how well the hardware is integrated with software, right from firmware to mobile SDKs to APIs to web services.
This platform approach by Estimote is a good move and is the way to go. Estimote’s new flexible and extensible platform allows remote configuration and management. It also provides enterprise-grade security and in-depth analysis of data in real-time for the entire beacon network.
Some primary features of the new platform are:
The iOS app has been updated with a new feature dubbed as “batch edit”. The app now helps in updating advertising intervals and broadcasting power for multiple beacons in range. The functionality has also been added to the Estimote Cloud dashboard. Estimote will soon enable remote management of Power Modes, beacon IDs and secure UUID rotation. The remote management functionality will be embedded into the SDKs as well. Estimote’s platform infrastructure will ensure that the entire network of beacons is up-to-date with over-the-air firmware updates. The Estimote Cloud dashboard now also allows you to transfer the access rights to other users.
Beacons are a powerful tool for turning micro-location into actionable data. Beacons can bring a richer mobile experience by interacting with customers across venues. To this end, Estimote has been doing some beta-testing with select partners to bring analytics as a component to Estimote Cloud. The new component allows one to look up stats for each beacon in the fleet. To track people more effectively in venues, Estimote is also offering an Indoor Location SDK. The analytics offering comes with a REST API to make it easier to fetch beacon interactions.
The beacon firmware has been upgraded and now offers secure UUID rotation. When enabled, it changes a beacon’s ID to a random value. The key for decoding this random ID lies safely in Estimote Cloud. The Estimote SDK has also been updated to support this feature. Estimote’s security model now offers cloud-based authentication to protect beacons from unauthorized access.
Now you can purchase beacons in bulk using Estimote Cloud. You can now order up to 300 certified and production-ready Estimote beacons.
All of the above software advancements show the core competencies that Estimote's platform can bring to the proximity world. Every brand and retailer wants to offer a unified shopping experience that is connected from online to offline, e-commerce to mobile to brick and mortar. Estimote is making it one degree easier by opening up a beacon analytics API for other parties to use. In a 100% consumer friendly way, retailers can now incorporate data from their in-store Estimote Beacons and Stickers into marketing and analytics dashboards from industry leaders like TellApart, RetailNext, and Euclid Analytics. This would help them analyze more data and make smarter decisions that have demonstrable ROI.
With efforts from Estimote and considering more support for beacons that would be also available from other players, beacon technology in on track to make a mark in both the physical and digital worlds.