What is iBeacon?
iBeacon is Apple’s implementation of Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) wireless technology to create a different way of providing location-based information and services to iPhones and other iOS devices. iBeacon arrived in iOS7, which means it works with iPhone 4s or later, iPad (third generation and onwards) iPad mini and iPod touch (fifth generation or later). While iBeacon is Apples product this also works with many of the android devices as well with support growing on the android platform. Currently the same BLE technology is also compatible with Android 4.3. and above.
How does it work?
The beacons themselves are small, cheap Bluetooth transmitters. Apps installed on your iPhone listen out for the signal transmitted by these beacons and respond accordingly when the phone comes into range.
For example, if you pass a beacon in an exhibition booth, the exhibitor’s app (assuming you have it installed) could display a product or service offer alert for you. The exhibitor’s app could also provide information about the organisation and their products, using your distance from beacons placed near the exhibit to determine your position.
What real world iBeacon examples are there?
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jay Tokosch, CEO of Core-Apps to discuss the use of iBeacon technology integrated with their mobile event apps; FollowMe and EventLink. Here is what was said…
Edwards: A lot has been made recently about your CES® Mobile app and it’s use of the iBeacon technology. Can you tell me a little more
Tokosch: We are so excited about being the first to successfully deploy the technology and to do it at one of the largest trade shows in the world is just incredible! While we started doing all types of gamification over 2 years ago, this technology has enhanced our gamification offering beyond anything available in the industry.
Edwards: Did you also provide the iBeacons?
Tokosch: Our partner, Radius Networks, supplied the iBeacon’s and a connection to their network, we developed the mobile app portion to make the CES scavenger hunt work. It was great to see so much press on this feature.
Edwards: Was this the first time you have used iBeacon technoloyg?
Tokosch: Using the iBeacon technology at CES was not our first foray into this type of technology. In October of 2013 we deployed a similar technology with our partner Birdzi. At AEM’s ICUEE event (a 500,000 plus square foot event) we tracked floor traffic, exhibitor booth traffic, and attendee trends on the show floor. Also, we used the live traffic data to provide indoor location services to the mobile app. At IAEE Expo Expo in December 2013 we again deployed the technology and showed the floor traffic real-time with a big screen in our booth. Visitors to our booth loved the chance to play with these analytics in real-time – especially the heat maps!!
Edwards: Why is iBeacon such a big deal?
Tokosch: I am proud to say that innovating new technology and being a thought leader has always been one of our strengths. The technology shown and discussed in the cases I have noted are real and available today – but we have so much more we plan to do with this technology. I can’t elaborate at this time but I will say ‘watch this space’.
There are a host of new and emerging technologies that has been or could be deployed at events in order to enhance the experience of all stakeholders. iBeacon is one that can provide great benefits to all involved in your next event and is certainly a tool that should be watched closely as mobile event app integration increases.