Kontakt.io has brought something new to the arena of beacon devices that rely on Bluetooth Smart technology for connectivity. Kontakt.io has launched the Cloud Beacon, with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, unlocking ways for beacons to be used more effectively. The cloud beacons incorporate Wi-Fi hardware besides that of Bluetooth low energy.
Beacons have the potential to radically lead to innovation in the way shoppers interact with products in physical stores. Smartphone users can get catalogs of products right on their screens. Furthermore, features such as mobile payments can be enabled by retailers using beacons.
The new cloud beacons developed by Kontakt.io incorporate several features:
- Bluetooth as an option and not mandatory for connectivity.
- 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.
- Built-in memory module for offline data collection.
The use of Wi-Fi is more feasible than the use of Bluetooth because signals will not be affected much by walls or dense materials. These new beacons can upload the collected data to the web. The beacons are in the form of small boxes and can collect anonymous MAC addresses from customers who have Wi-Fi turned on, thereby providing deeper insights.
“Customer privacy is still assured, because the Cloud Beacon only monitors what an anonymous data point is doing, and does not identity the customer at any time,” said a Kontakt.io spokesperson. “In our case, the beacons can only see where a particular MAC address is moving, and how long it stays in any location. It does not – and is not capable of – actually identifying anybody, because all the system sees is a series of numbers and data attached to that number.”
The cloud beacons also have the ability of managing preinstalled Bluetooth-enabled beacons at the stores. Data pertaining to parameters such as settings and configuration is backed up on Kontakt.io’s servers. The data can further be accessed via a dedicated web panel. Kontakt.io will be looking forward to leveraging its client base to promote these multifeatured beacons. The company’s clientele includes big names, such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Nike and IBM.
Below is an illustration depicting the architecture behind the cloud beacon.
Beacons have the potential to track the customer’s experience inside the store. The analysis of the data collected by beacons can help improve shopping-floor layouts or track which product shelves are attracting more customers.
In the past, in-store analytics has been done by Nomi and others using MAC addresses. But Apple is believed to have changed all that by developing BLE-based beacon technology, or iBeacon. In the future, MAC addresses will change dynamically, so BLE is the future.