We have come a long way since Apple’s announcement of the “iBeacon” at the end of 2013. The term “iBeacon” came with a lot of questions for those who are not tech savvy – what does it do? What are the use cases? Isn’t Bluetooth a little too old to be new? Well, Bluetooth 4.0 was too smart to be, but it would be useless to write about the variety of changes and features that you’ve all probably have come to admire by now.
Years have gone by, and we have an increasing awareness towards beacons (as Forbes named 2016 as “The Year of Beacon”), thanks to Apple’s inital announcement, Google’s very own Physical Web and Eddystone form factors, as well as a plethora of projects by quite a few and valuable companies of this ever-growing family. This is the age of the internet of things, and we are in for quite a ride. The beacon market is expected to more than double its size in 2016, and the market remains on track to break 400 million shipments by 2021.
Even though there are many different active industries, retail still comes to mind as the highest compatible partner when you talk about beacons. When you visit a shopping mall, try to shift your cone of view higher that the usual standard, try to observe the ceilings. Next to the usual access point here and there, you will probably see smaller devices, which are mostly beacons. A very different habitat has already started sowing roots in the malls. Beacons are already being seen as the technology to reshape retail marketing, with more than a million beacons expected to be installed in U.S. retail stores this year alone.
Beacons produced by different companies, used by different companies, all serving different yet very similar purposes – be it indoor analytics, micro location based loyalty, communication, gamification scenarios or something else. The core idea behind any technology is how it changes the lives of the everyday consumer, and no matter how hard a work has laid the grounds for the birth of the technology, this is what determines its lifespan.
In recent history of its firmware updates, iOS already started a change, following dynamic MAC address protocols the indoor analytics has an updated vision of privacy protection. Next to privacy, user experience is what will matter the most for the internet of things to truly thrive. It falls on ours, and on the shoulders of all companies who have live IoT projects, to set the standards and benefits to users in order to make the already innovative ideas shine even brighter.
Next time you are in a shopping mall, as we said, look towards the sky. Do you see the stars?
by Emre Öçer, Operations Manager at Blesh