Proximity Beacons are a new class of low-powered, low-cost blue-tooth transmitters that can notify nearby devices of their presence, paving the way for sophisticated, context-aware customer experiences. By using them, personalized and timely valuable content can be delivered, enhancing the digital experience.
Powered primarily by swift consumer adoption of smart devices, the consumer experience today is all about omni-channel convergence. The mobile boom has shifted the digital experience away from the traditional devices like PCs. Popular brands choose various ways and means to deliver rich experiences to their customers’ mobile devices in environments as diverse as retail, social, or entertainment. Geo positioning is one option in which a customer’s macro-location is determined, and the sellers create a virtual perimeter that corresponds to a geographic area to distribute digital content. The introduction of proximity Beacons takes this experience to a whole new level, where devices or applications can derive their proximity to a Beacon at a micro-level. Beacons are a completely new way to explore the world. Phones and tablets can finally “see” what they’re close to. Businesses can deliver content and a new experience to users based on precise proximity to things in the physical world.
Beacon-aware applications enable developers to craft applications that are more relevant and useful. It helps brands deepen their knowledge of their customer base and gives retailers the prospect to increase customer loyalty. For example, this could be as simple as sending a coupon to a mobile device when the customer is predisposed about the purchase and is in the vicinity of the store aisle, or even process improvements like automatically notifying a nurse on a patient’s arrival in a clinic, or changing the phone to the “vibrate” mode when participants enter a conference room, and reset back when they leave the room.
Initially Beacons were one-way broadcasting devices; however, current Bluetooth versions (4.0 and above) enable the current generation of broadcasting Beacons into a two-way, Net-connected network. These new generation Beacons are called mesh Beacons with capabilities to receive data without pairing, and talk to other Beacons on the (Mesh) network. The Mesh Beacons can receive a few kilobytes of data directly from the smart phone and, with the mesh network, they can connect to cloud sources directly and perform further action. For example, retailers without the need for Wi-Fi can push a small lightweight “coupon” directly to the mobile device, personalized to the current shopping aisle or location. Mobile Apps can be notified when the mobile device or the Beacons move in and out of range of one and another, monitoring the proximity changes over time. The following is a short architectural approach on implementing Beacons.
Beacons are placed in logical zones. Each zone could have one or more Beacons. A Beacon device emits a short-range signal with a unique identifier called “proximity UUID.” A pre-installed App tracks the user proximity range communicating with the Beacon. The App then sends the UUID received from the Beacon with additional metadata to a back-end server, which in turn delivers content based on the location. The App can be further extended to perform other actions like integrating with other applications and technologies. The most popular use case can be found on various art museums: When the guest is in the vicinity of an exhibit, information about the exhibit is directly pushed to the device.