The most well known type of beacon is probably the Belisha, the orange ball, containing a flashing light mounted on a striped pole and drawing attention to a zebra crossing.
Well, thereâ€™s a new type of beacon in town – the Bluetooth Beacon and businesses can use them in interesting and exciting ways.
What is a Bluetooth Beacon?
Basically, a Bluetooth Beacon is a low energy device (using button batteries that last for up to a year), that can be fixed almost anywhere and which transmits data and/or information to nearby â€œportable electronic devicesâ€ within 40-100 mtrs. Mobile phones and tablets in other words.
Major retail stores are starting to use Beacons to track customers as they move through the store. The Beacon can â€œpushâ€ marketing messages as customers get within range of relevant displays. Your iPhone may use a beacon to determine what section of a grocery store you’re in, see if anything on your shopping list is in that area, so you don’t forget it, and even push a discount voucher to encourage you to buy a particular brand.
Your Android phone could use a beacon to show on a map where you are and provide directions to where you want to go – in your language.
Itâ€™s not just for retail outlets though. If you are in business to business you could use a Beacon to push a message out to visitors offering a subscription to your newsletter or Â encourage a visitor to install your App. Museums could use Beacons to trigger pictures, audio tracks or videos as you walk past particular displays and exhibits.
You can even use Beacons to provide keyless access, your phone could use a beacon in your car to know it’s your vehicle and send an unlock signal to it, for example.
How do you use a Bluetooth Beacon
The first thing you need to do is decide what you are looking to achieve. You could
- Push deals and offers
- Share news
- Encourage Newsletter Subscriptions
- Drive engagement at events and shows
- Help blind people explore locations
- Push visitor information
- Unlock doors
Use is only limited by your imagination!
At a trade show, for example – simply place your Beacon on your stand and push your message to any attendee who comes within range of your Beacon.
Whatâ€™s the likely cost
Beacons can be pretty inexpensive – the Avvel X Beacon (left) for example –
- runs off a CR2477 button cell which lasts for up to 30 months,
- has a range up to 100m,
- is waterproof,
- is easily programmable
- 42mm square and 13.4mm thick
- From Â£20.00 + VAT
The Next Step
Well, I’ve just ordered one of theÂ Avvel X Beacons to see how it works and what can be done and as soon as I’ve learned how to get the most from it, I’ll post an update here.
In the meantime, if you need any help – get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me a line, firstname.lastname@example.org
Beacons just send out information, they donâ€™t know who you are, donâ€™t connect to your device, canâ€™t harvest mobile phone numbers and donâ€™t steal any data