So what are these wonderous little bits of technology then?
Well according to Wikipedia, they are;
“iBeacon is an Indoor positioning system that Apple Inc. calls “a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence”. iBeacons can also be used by the Android operating system..”
This is very interesting, but what exactly are they for and what exactly can they do.
Let’s start again..
iBeacons are small, 4cm x 4cm x1cm Bluetooth transmitters that operate on very little power (BLE- Bluetooth Low Energy). They can be positioned just about anywhere and they can “talk” to enabled devices. Devices include iOS7 systems as well as Android systems.
iBeacons are described as ” location-aware, context-aware, pervasive small wireless sensor beacon that could pinpoint your location in a store: iBeacons could send you notifications of items around you that are on sale or items you may be looking for, and it could enable payments at the point of sale (POS) where you don’t need to remove your wallet or card to make a payment.”
This sounds like a complicated system, but take it from us, it’s not complicated.
Location aware? Well no, they aren’t.
Context aware? Nope
They work, simplistically, on the basis that they have a unique identifier that they transmit. That’s it, nothing else.
However, if an application is written that looks for specific iBeacons then YES at this point it becomes location and context aware. For example, if I have set up an iBeacon next to the fresh tomatoes in a supermarket, then the application will receive the iBeacons identifier and IF the user is close to the tomoatoes [it] would be able to trigger an event on the device.
It’s all about the application and NOT the actual device. Look at it this way..
The iBeacon constantly says, “it’s me, it’s me, it’s me”. A running application is looking for iBeacons. It picks up the “it’s me” signal and says, “ah, that’s the iBeacon near the tomatoes”. Then the application could;
- Display a recipe about tomatoes
- Show a special offer
- Recommend another product
- Display information about the origin of the tomatoes
There are a multitude of potential applications for this technology. We’ve been looking at them and we’d be happy to give you the benefit of our experience.
In fact, we’ve been working with this technology long before the term iBeacon was coined and long before Apple announced support for iOS7 devices.