Top 5 Myths about Bluetooth Beacons

No matter how closely you follow marketing articles and news, location-based marketing and its applications usually bring lots of not-so-clear technical concepts and open questions. Things get even more confusing when we talk about beacons. Read on, to discover the most common myths about this exciting technology.

Myth º1:  Beacons send messages and offers

Contrary to popular belief, beacons do not deliver messages, offers or any content at all. A beacon is a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) hardware device that broadcasts a signal that smartphone can listen when users opt-in within a specific mobile app. When the smartphone enters a beacon range (usually up to tens of meters), it wakes up and notifies the listening app. Think of it like the beacon simply broadcasting, “I’m beacon 17” over and over again.

Understanding Proximity Marketing

Dating back to the concept of the “Four P’s of Marketing,” using Product, Price, Promotion and Placement as the primary pillars of marketing, there is one more “P” – “Proximity”-  that we consider is a must have in today’s marketing strategy, as it represents the final connection between brands and consumers.

What is proximity marketing?

Proximity marketing is an action or bundle of actions that use location technologies to communicate and connect with customers via their portable devices. These actions could be any kind of content (text, video, HTML, passbook, etc) and will be trigger with specific location conditions. At events, for instance, attendees could receive a message to collect their digital badges at specific entrances.

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NFC vs Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Background on BLE.

BLE’s first specifications were created at the Nokia Research Centre with the name WiBree. Later on, this technology was adopted by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) and was renamed Bluetooth Ultra Low-Power. The basic idea was to integrate a very low power demanding wireless technology into small devices such as heart rate sensors, or other kinds of devices that needed to run on a button battery for years or months.

However, there is a small inconvenience. Bluetooth Low Energy is not compatible with earlier versions of Bluetooth (commonly called “classic”). Although mobile devices compatible with BLE often include the previous version of Bluetooth as well, in order to avoid such incompatibility, in smaller sensors and devices this is not possible because of size and energy constraints, and are not able to work together with a non-BLE compatible mobile device.

Bluetooth Low Energy vs Wi-Fi

NFCvsWiFI

Despite the fact that until now these two technologies have been used for very different purposes, for some time Wi-Fi signals have been used to gain insights about physical locations, such as retail stores. From this perspective, we are going to compare below the main differences between Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi.

How Wi-Fi tracking works

Most people have in their pockets a mobile phone with the Wi-Fi turned on, which means it is constantly looking for Wi-Fi networks. This active seeking of Wi-Fi networks is used by retailers to detect the presence of customers in the store, or in the surrounding area. Users do not have to manually connect to any network, in fact the whole the process is done without any user intervention.

How Bluetooth Low Energy works.

The seeking of signals is done in the opposite way: Bluetooth Low Energy devices (e.g. mobile phones) are constantly looking for signals of Bluetooth Beacons. When these signals are detected, some actions are triggered in the device – actions such as showing context-aware content (messages, images, etc.) –

#WWDC14, Bluetooth technologies gain relevance in both OS X Yosemite and iOS 8

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After a more in-depth analysis of the iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite new features shown last monday during the WWDC14 conference, we have noticed there is a common denominator in several of their new technologies. Here we go:

AirPlay to AppleTV

Apple introduced with iOS 7 a pretty useful feature for iPhone users that allows them to setup an AppleTV using iPhone settings with only a touch (no actual touch is required). This works by using the bluetooth signals for detecting the approximate distance from one to the other, so they can exchange the necessary information for the setup.
Apple extends this functionality even further in iOS 8 by using the combination of “bluetooth signals for discovering, Wi-Fi ad-hoc network (p2p) to transmit data”, providing iOS devices with the ability to transmit over AirPlay without the need of being under the same Wi-Fi network.