Beaconing isn’t just getting bigger, it’s also getting better. This became quite evident from numerous announcements around recent beacon technology and deployments. Speakers at a recent conference highlighted many different uses for beacons, such as at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Besides the implementations, various approaches to beacons were discussed, such as those from Madison Square Garden and Hillshire Brands. One of the key points is that beaconing is moving way beyond retail.
The transmitting devices will be popping up in airports, museums, libraries, trucking companies, hospitals and in people’s homes. And as the proliferation of beacons continues, the technology behind them is improving. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which shepherds best Bluetooth practices for the industry, recently introduced the latest iteration of standards in Bluetooth 4.2, which includes improved security and speed.
Interestingly, the new standard also moves along the capability within IoT (the Internet of Things), by allowing a direct connection between a wearable device and the cloud, essentially bypassing the smartphone as a hub. This has many implications for the future of mobile commerce. As beacons blanket the landscape coupled with the growth of wearable technology, such as the coming Apple Watch, the obvious linking of the two is within sight. Grocery shopping via Apple Watch already is planned for 63 Marsh Supermarkets, and that’s just the beginning. Beacon-triggered offers will be capable of being sent to a wearable device, not requiring a phone to be removed from a pocket or purse.
The mobile purchase also will become more seamless, thanks to the evolution of beacon and Bluetooth technologies. Ultimately, the mobile purchase still will originate from a mobile device. It just won’t be phone.