If you have limited knowledge about the Bluetooth beacon, if you have heard about this new integration in iOS7, if you are interested in using passbook, and most importantly, if you really want to grasp some ideas about them, then let’s discover them here right now.
- What is Bluetooth beacon
Like beacon indicating direction for ships, Bluetooth beacon is just a Bluetooth-based indoor positioning system using stationary beacons to send radio waves and direct position for mobile devices. Improvement of technology in Bluetooth makes all these possible. Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology was merged into Bluetooth 4.0, which could reduce power consumption, lower cost and make location awareness much more precise.
- Bluetooth beacon VS GPS
Bluetooth beacon refers to determine the location of a pedestrian in complex indoor environments, such as high office buildings, airport terminals, shopping malls by giving some clues through strong signals.
Save energy and low-cost：Bluetooth itself has different sleep mode to save energy. And for Bluetooth beacons, even only with a button cell about 2cm in diameter, it could be used continuously for 6 months to one year. Beacons have a low cost since a stand-alone beacon can be roughly assembled by a USB Bluetooth dongle, self-powering hub, and aluminum cooking foil.
Can be used indoors：Bluetooth beacon’s work is simple —it delivers a Bluetooth data package by radio waves every short period of time. The information could be its beacon ID, latitude-longitude, name of the store or anything else. When the mobile device with Bluetooth 4.0 receives it, user can soon set the direction to that position. Then following the Bluetooth is all he/she has to do. Moreover, the position from Bluetooth is very accurate.
GPS is a Satellite-based localization method. As for its high effectiveness in most outdoor environments, people are using it as a common tool to direct the way on the road.
Large power consumption：GPS is very battery-consumptive. Follow your own experience, you won’t open it for the whole day, otherwise your mobile will soon run out of battery.
Difficult to use in indoor environment：GPS are generally not suitable to establish indoor locations, since microwaves will be attenuated and reflected by roofs, walls and other obstructions. For example, in the places like basements, subways and tunnels, you could have a rarely weak signal or even worse. Also, when the mobile network is congested or in some spots that signals of mobile are blocked on purpose, it’s impossible for you to load your direction.
- What’s new about Bluetooth in iOS7
Apple’s iOS 7 is adding improved integration for Bluetooth 4.0. With BLE, iOS users could interact with the position and information of beacon by its low cost signal emitters. Beacons can be set anywhere, even on moving targets, but they are specialists indoors. Even when GPS signals are not available, Bluetooth beacons still work. What’s more, at WWDC, Apple announces that iOS devices can act as beacons. And this is so-called iBeacon. Proximity to one beacon device can be sensed and sent to the moving one, this helps directing the way or finding stuffs around you precisely. Also, iBeacon allows pushing notifications to be sent to iOS users. Imagine right after you approach a store, you get all information about the store popping up on your mobile. This will be an amazing shopping experience right?
- One fantastic application on Bluetooth Beacons–Use in PASSBOOK
Making Bluetooth beacons into business use, an idea that soon comes into mind is that merchants could send their ads to users’ phones whenever they are closed to and then guide the way to their locations. This is just like joining the iBeacon function with Passbook, which is a built-in app from iOS6 and enable user’s collected digital coupons, tickets, membership cards, rewards and gift cards popup onto the lock screen base on the GPS location. However, under BLE technology I talked above, the direction will be instructed in a more specific range, in particular when users are in an indoor area. It will direct them right in the merchant’s place. So you see, this new integration makes Passbook in a more perfect way and benefits both merchants and consumers. As for the content of those popup notifications, it will fully up to merchant’s decision. Let’s say if you are a merchant, you will definitely get the idea what concept you’d like to deliver and what you want to get from the notification. Draw a proper draft to make your ads stand up and arouse attention among all, then you will make it.
Recently Bluetooth released Bluetooth 4.0 LE (light energy) also known as Bluetooth SMART. This technology works a lot like Apple’s Airdrop. Small iBeacons transmit signals that can be received by other devices using Bluetooth LE technology. The beauty of this though is that to receive the message you must be within a certain distance. The distance can be set by the owner of the beacon up to 150 feet.
With iOS7 coming out Fall 2013 your iPhone can be a receiver and transmitter of these signals. Making your iPhone an iBeacon itself. This can offer a lot of flexibility with Passbook and other apps in the iPhone.
For those of you who do not know yet Passbook is an app on all iPhone and iTouch products running iOS6 or later. Passbook helps users store digital copies of their event tickets, membership cards, boarding passes, and coupons. With this users can empty the clutter of their wallets and enjoy the efficiency of a mobile wallet. Soon with iOS7 coming out the process of receiving these passes will become even simpler.
For more information on Passbook click here.
What does this do if you combine with Passbook?
If Passbook is combined with iBeacons marketers would be able to customize promotions to certain locations in their store and send it right to a users iPhone via a Pass for Passbook. So rather than just getting blasted with coupons when you walk in to a store you would only receive coupons when approaching areas of a store where you would have interest.
This is only the beginning of what is possible with combining these two technologies. Businesses could get more creative with how they integrate these technologies. Apple Insider talks about ideas to create museum tours based off the iBeacons, also rumors for helping the visually impaired and public transportation systems are being spread.
Other small groups on kickstarter have started thinking of ways to utilize the Bluetooth technology. Some ideas include tracking scuba dives, finding lost items, and turning your iPhone in to a remote that is able to control light switches, doors, and garages wirelessly.
The possibilities are endless and it will be interesting to see what people are able to do with the technology.