There are hundreds of articles out there that explain what iBeacons are. These articles tend to be followed by some very real misconceptions.
So, here’s a quick heads up.
iBeacons is a term coined by Apple. Apple have (in Feb’ 2014) decided on the specific hardware and specifications which will allow BlueTooth Low Energy devices to carry the iBeacons trademark.
This does NOT mean that all beacons (notice the missing ‘i’ there) absolutely have to conform. Apple devices will still recognise other beacons and they will do exactly the same thing – they just won’t be able to carry the iBeacons trademark.
The most concerning misconception amongst, predominantly, consumers is that while they are out wandering the streets or the mall or the sports ground they will be bombarded with ads from every single beacon in range.
THEY WON’T. Beacons will only transmit their small amount of data (a series of numbers that indicate the beacons group and the position within a store etc). The user will absolutely have to have downloaded an app that is specifically interested in the specific group of beacons that belong to the app.
As an example, if store x, store y and store z all have beacons within their store it will require the user to have downloaded an app for ALL 3 of these stores i.e 3 apps. If the user has only download the store x app then only beacons belonging to this group will be able to communicate with the user.
Yes, the store x marketing team may well then beam ads to the user, but if these are of no interest then the user can simply delete the app and never receive messages from that retailer again.
Hope that’s cleared that up.