Interesting applications for iBeacon
Beacons (small battery-powered transmitters that can be detected by smartphones) are seeing increased adoption for innovative communications between online content and people’s mobile devices.
The recent formation of the Global Beacon Alliance and with more cost effective turnkey beacon solution providers (such as Live Beacon) starting to emerge, beacons are no longer exclusively for the biggest companies with the biggest budgets. Almost any company of any size can be enhanced with beacons.
Here’s a few ways beacons can and are being used:
1. Location-specific content
Perhaps the most conventional use of beacons is connecting digital content with physical objects and locations. Want to know more about a product or venue….. just look at your smartphone! Beacons will most likely replace a lot of traditional print media (posters, brochures, pamphlets, spec sheets, etc) offering a quicker, cheaper, interactive and more environmentally friendly way to distribute information.
Could be general information (product info when inside and opening times when outside), education info or even entertainment.
2. Indoor maps & navigation
Before beacons, GPS was the only way to accurately determine a smartphone’s location. Unfortunately, GPS uses satellites which don’t work very well indoors! Enter beacons… Networks of beacons are used to triangulate a smartphone’s location to within a metre. Interactive maps built on top of this data show attendees where they are, where they’ve been and where they haven’t. This helps them navigate often large and disorientating spaces and get the most out of their visit.
3. Interactive Treasure hunts
Beacons can be used to build treasure hunts. Hide beacons across a site and users can use their smartphones to follow clues and reveal the next hint. This is a great way to make discovering information engaging, fun and rewarding and plays to visitors’ natural completionist tendencies – encouraging them to visit absolutely everything! Treasure hunts don’t have to be confined to the four walls of a building as Live Beacons are battery-powered, waterproof (not all beacons out there) and can be installed almost anywhere (e.g. zip-tied to lampposts with the correct permission). How about an interactive treasure hunt that spans an entire city? Or within an expo?
4. Tailored content
Beacons can provide different content for different audiences or demographics. For example, a product showcase might install a beacon underneath each product, triggering tech specs for engineers but pricing and availability for salespeople.
Content may be specifically targeted for when people are entering or exiting your premises, delivering relevant messages / reminders / promotions when it matters most.
5. Rewarding Loyalty
Using beacons we can determine not only where someone is, but how long they’ve been there and how many times they’ve been there before. Subsequently, beacons are a great fit for rewarding customer loyalty and keep them coming back. Replace those cardboard loyalty cards at coffee shops that are easily lost and add bulk to purses and wallets. In a restaurant, reward customers with a complimentary bottle of wine on their 10th visit, or a free meal for visiting all the restaurants in your chain. A bottle of Champs for the 1000th customer. These rewards can ‘tally up’ in the beacon app, or they can magically happen behind the scenes (‘Welcome back Mrs Smith, this is your 5th visit this month, so this one’s on us!’).
6. Audience participation
Beacons can be used to provide a complete feedback loop between the action taking place on stage and the audience. At a wined and dined awards show, each table could have their say and vote on the awards. When they run out of drinks, summon the waiter at the tap of a button!
With beacons, organisers can identify attendees and their exact locations. Promo staff (armed with tablets) can welcome delegates by name as they enter a specific area (“Welcome to the VIP area Mr Smith”), or go find them when their meeting room is ready.
8. Rewards & gamification
Rewards are a great way to incentivise attendees to explore the entire event, tallying up a check list and rewarding them at the end (perhaps a free drink at the bar). Gamification takes this even further… how about a digital treasure hunt across the entire venue?
Beacons don’t just benefit the attendees. Every single interaction can be accurately tracked and measured in real-time. Including user journeys (the path users take through the venue) and heat maps/ dwell times (what’s popular and where). This ‘big data’ not only helps measure the success and effectiveness of the event, it gives valuable insights into how an event can be improved next time.
10. Beyond the venue
The value added by beacons doesn’t necessarily start and stop when the event does. Attendees can be sent personalised post-event communications based on their own interactions (e.g. a short video of the music festival that only includes the bands they saw). And events can be linked to other beacon deployments (e.g. Walking by a related billboard can trigger a specific offer or message just to attendees of the event). Brick and mortar businesses can detect customers who have attended one of their events as they walk into the store, making a direct correlation between marketing efforts and their results.
Perhaps surveys, suggestions and requests for reviews and social media interaction.
11. Engaging Guided tours
Beacons are a fantastic alternative to traditional audio tours at museums and galleries. Save money on staffing, hardware (bespoke audio tour devices aren’t cheap) and reach a wider audience (anyone with a smartphone). You can still hire out tablets which receive the same content to the odd technophobe! This content can provide interactive maps, guided tours (inc. audio and video) and automatically be translated to the visitors mother tongue. It can be provided free-of-charge (as part of the ticket price) or as an optional in-app purchase. The beauty of these modern guided tours is they’re ‘hands off’ the content automatically changes based on where the visitor is – so they can explore the venue in any order and don’t need to ‘click’ on anything.
12. NFC / QR code successor
Beacons don’t have to be used with smartphones, they can also be distributed to event attendees as lanyards or wristbands as an alternative to NFC and QR codes. Unlike NFC (which requires physical contact) beacons can be detected from up to 50 meters away and works with both Apple and Android phones, along with their approximate distance from the reader. Rather than funnelling attendees through touch-points, organisers simply ‘know’ how many attendees are in a room or specific area. Every attendee’s location is available in real time, not just the last place they checked-in.
Imagine standing in front of a massive video wall and (because you’re near enough to it) being able to manipulate content. Perhaps choosing which video it’s playing, or casting your vote on an interactive poll.
14. Delivery of Exclusives
Some content only makes sense in a specific location and you don’t want your users to take it with them/ be able to access it elsewhere. For example, a doctor’s waiting room may provide users free access to (otherwise paid) content such as newspapers and magazines. Licensing may allow this content to be distributed within this specific location, but no further. Beacons can be configured so that people can only receive that content via the beacon and when in range. Move away – bye bye content.
15. Checking in
Many surgeries/clinics now have floor standing touch screens that you can use to ‘check-in’. It is possible to send the same check-in system to visitors phones via Live Beacon. The system could be configured so that for subsequent visits the visitor is automatically checked-in by virtue of walking through the door with Bluetooth on and the Live beacon app installed — and they’ll get a notification in their pocket letting them know.
That’s just scratching the surface of what beacons can bring to stores, events and venues. Brands and agencies will no doubt come up with hundreds of creative and engaging uses for beacons over the coming years, and these uses will only get better as the technology improves and attendees become familiar with and come to expect beacon experiences, much in the same way they’ve come to expect free Wi-Fi today.
To find out more about Live Beacon and how the solution can be used to give you a competitive edge, contact us to find out more:
firstname.lastname@example.org 0044 (0)207 940 6800 http://amstore-innovation.com/ibeacon