iBeacon Technology and the Internet of Things

Matt Thompsett Product Statements

We have come a long, long way since the digit did the talking! The world we interact with is poised to change forever, the mobile phone started a personal device revolution and now life without mobile apps is unimaginable. The technology is now in place to start building the ‘Internet of Things’ as rightly predicted by British visionary, Kevin Ashton, back in 1999. Components of IoT have been around a while, however it’s only now that communication capability, device functionality and user expectation have coalesced. The IoT depends on tens of billions of smart sensors/beacons being deployed in our work and play environments enabling connectivity.

A great example of the IoT concept is Songdo, South Korea, the world’s first fully equipped and wired smart city. Virtually everything in the city is wired, connected and compiled into a constant stream of data that will be monitored, analysed and acted upon by an array of computers with little, or no human intervention. To make this a reality, Songdo’s planners have had to create a sensory world that unobtrusively gathers and transmits data whilst its inhabitants go about their day to day lives.

An integral part of the IoT’s sensory system is the Beacon, a small self-powered device that transmits IDs using proprietary technology. For example, Apple’s iBeacon is a new technology that extends Location Services in iOS. Your iOS device can alert apps when you approach or leave a location with an iBeacon. In addition to monitoring location, an app can estimate your proximity to an iBeacon (for example, a display or checkout counter in a retail store). Instead of using latitude and longitude to define the location, iBeacon uses a Bluetooth low energy signal, which iOS devices detect. All of this creates the Proximity Experience.

Proximity Experience is best illustrated by an example. Trials in the banking world have seen the installation of Beacons that use Bluetooth to connect with customers’ smartphones and send information on services available in the branch. In banking trials using the iBeacons, customers receive a welcome message and “tailored information” to their iPhone when they enter the branch, directing them to different services (and removing the need to access a central console or print out a number before being served).

While Beacon technology is slowly rolling out across the UK, with applications including Proximity Experience marketing in shopping centres, other sectors have been slow to realise the potential for Beacon rich environments. Green Lemon Company is looking to accelerate the process…

“We are now developing Beacon environments to create Proximity Experiences not just in the consumer world but also to enable commercial deployments such as asset tracking, security and ‘traffic’ management.

Integrated with our powerful ERP Enterprise Mobility platform [enabling device agnostic Mobile Apps] the Beacon environment can be the ‘eyes and ears’ of any organisation that relies on managing assets, components and complex logistic operations…”Matt Thompsett, CEO Green Lemon Company

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