Saturday, March 1, 2014

The iBeacon Race is On

The potential of micro-location and proximity services has long been promised and is not really anything that new. But I think we are now reaching a tipping point with the realization of this technology in every day life. With the pervasiveness of mobile devices and the wide adoption of Bluetooth LE (BLE) in common devices, we are reaching a critical mass with how developers and businesses can use this technology to engage with mobile users and optimize various location services.

As the momentum for BLE has been building, Apple's iOS 7 and Android 4.3 have opened the door wide open for developers to begin to bring innovative solutions to the market. But I think one of the biggest momentum drivers for this will be the Apple iBeacon standard (trademark and BLE profile). The recent announcement by Apple will create a certification type standard that will further enable better interoperability and ultimately lower development costs and other technology barriers. While the iBeacon name is often times used loosely to include any device that uses BLE, what Apple is doing will set a standard for how both mobile devices and transmitting contextual devices can talk with each other. This will lower the bar for developers to build applications that can work with a wider spectrum of device maker beacons - and the list of manufactures is growing every day. The iBeacon stamp will likely become the gold standard for micro-location solutions and devices at a hardware and API level.

Contextual computing is now possible from both sides of the equation, from mobile devices to smart wearables to cheap broadcasting devices. iBeacon device makers such as Estimote, among many others, are building cheap and easy to deploy BLE broadcasting devices that developers can use in countless ways to deliver innovative proximity solutions. This along with mobile powered BLE devices will bring a new flock of creative solutions to the mobile app we use everyday and will allow merchants to deploy solutions and environments that will enable true contextual engagement and computing for mobile users.

I expect the Apple iBeacon standard to win out in the end and for all beacon device makers to certify their devices compatibly with the Apple iBeacon spec. And expect the same from SDK developers, who will insure their APIs work with iBeacon devices. Think of BLE as the alphabet and the iBeacon standard as the language that a new world of smart contextually aware devices will be using. The race is on to a world that will engage with you as you move through your day to day life.

At OfferDrop, our goal is to empower local merchants to make their establishments and venues contextual aware where they can engage with their customers and users to deliver better solutions and services while improving the customer experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment