How to Leverage Location Services With Beacons

February 3, 2017

9:15 am

Bluetooth low energy beacons, or BLEs, are low cost devices that can be used to detect and communicate with connected devices that are in close proximity. Beacons may be stand alone devices that plug into walls or into devices via USB ports. Tablets, cell phones, wearables, and other items can also be used as beacons. When these devices all communicate with one another, small networks are created. 

As you can imagine, retailers have jumped on this technology, as it has amazing marketing potential. For example, a customer who spends more than two minutes in the frozen foods section of a grocery store, might receive an instant coupon code for a discount on ice cream. However, retailers are not the only businesses who can benefit from beacons, and marketing is not the only business area that can leverage location services by using beacons.

Sharing Information in Meetings and Conferences

Google has created an API called Nearby Messages. It allows for communication between people in the same physical location. It can be used to create temporary networks that can be used by people close to one another. One possible use for this API, when combined with beacon technology, is to connect meeting attendees to exchange information with one another, without concern that the information shared might be seen by anyone else.

Internal Navigation

It’s fairly easy for anyone with a smartphone to find their way around when they are outside. Siri, Google, and a host of other technologies will provide nearly step-by-step directions to and from anywhere. However, that is largely missing when it comes to indoor navigation.

For example, if you want to go from the airport to the local football stadium, you can easily get the information you need. But, once you are inside the stadium, you probably won’t be able to ask your phone to direct you to the restrooms, lost and found, or concession stand. The exception to this is if you happen to be in a location where blue dot navigation is available. Beacons can be used as a part of these indoor navigation systems.

Intra Organizational Communication

When organizations first realized that internet based technology could also be used to manage, and encourage internal marketing and communication, the intranet was born. Basically, an intranet is a website that is created for the sole use of the employees and management of an organization. There is  no external access.

Intranets are wonderful for broadcasting messages and sharing information that is useful to the entire organization. Most intranet sites contain content including company policies And procedures, information on company events, internal directories, job openings, daily news, and announcements only impacting local departments.

There are clearly many ways to use beacons. They certainly are not limited to any particular kind of business, or department. Retailers have gotten the ball rolling by being such early adopters of this technology. Still, it will be interesting to see how else this technology is used.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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