A New Challenger to Apple’s iBeacon Technology

In 2015, Ubudu will launch the first implementation of mesh beacons in the US, also called uBeacon Mesh. Mesh beacons is a form of peer-to-peer implementation which could prove to be an important evolution in beacon technology.

The new form of beacons, developed by the Paris based company, would utilize the new capabilities of version 4.1 of Bluetooth. Mesh beacons will be different from the current one-way location broadcasting beacons and would act as a two-way, Net-connected grid. The uBeacons will be able to receive data back from consumers’ smartphones without the need for pairing. Simultaneously they would 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.

Here is a video illustration highlighting how the uBeacon system works:

This can change the customer experience around beacons as customers would now also be able to send messages through their smartphone apps. Consider a scenario where a customer inside a store can simply send a message to ask for assistance. Note that customers would need to have Bluetooth 4.0 enabled smartphones.

Current iBeacon technology based beacons rely heavily on a dedicated WiFi or cellular data network in order to send proximity messages. This is not the case with mesh beacons. Ubudu cites that the mesh networks in all locations can be controlled using a single browser based dashboard. The company is providing dedicated SDKs for iOS and Android so that retailers can either develop their own apps or use third party apps like Shopkick.

The best part about these mesh beacons is that they don’t rely on a WiFi or cellular data network. A shopping mall would have to spend a lot in setting up internet connection for traditional beacons. Instead, such large commercial spaces can setup their own in-house mesh networks and save those extra costs. Moreover, from a security aspect, the transmission of the data would be limited to the network itself.

Ubudu cites that around 250 apps have been developed around its mesh technology. The app has already been installed in beta environments across retailers in Canada, France and elsewhere in Europe.