You’re shopping for new clothes. As you walk past a rack of blazers, you receive a notification on your phone: those snappy blazers that you find yourself glancing at — they’re all 30 percent off. In a hotel, you walk down the hall and approach the door to your room. As you draw up to it, it unlocks itself for you automatically, no key required. In the departures lounge at the airport, you wait for your flight to commence boarding. Suddenly, you get a message telling you that your gate has changed and provided directions to the updated gate, taking what could have been a major inconvenience and turning it into a minor change of plans.
While those examples may sound like science fiction, they are all being made possible by one exciting new development: Beacon technology. Beacons are inexpensive pieces of hardware that use low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages directly to smartphones or tablets. While they were once devices with a circumference the size of a large apple, Forbes reports that they have been reduced down to the point where they can be nothing more than stickers placed on a wall.
Beacons are causing a stir in the world of mobile development especially because they offer an opportunity for hyper-local advertising and consumer interaction. Part of the beauty of Beacon technology is that so long as the user has a relevant app installed, the app does not specifically need to be running for them to receive a Beacon message. All of a sudden, it’s possible to target potential consumers based not just on their interests in the abstract — things like hunting, cars, or cosmetics — but based on where they actually find themselves at the moment.
To give you an example of how some companies are already leveraging this unique advantage: Universal Display, a global mannequin company, is putting Beacons inside their mannequins that allow consumers to see the details of the outfits their mannequins are wearing, and then gives them the option to buy any of the components directly from their phone. This degree of precision in targeting potential consumers is unprecedented. As Chuck Miller writes in the Harvard Business Review, “beaconing has been the missing piece in the whole mobile-shopping puzzle.”
At this point in its evolution, taking advantage of Beacon technology requires a developer who is on the cutting edge. Many mobile application development services simply won’t have the experience or the imagination to leverage the opportunities that Beacons offer. Guaraná Technologies, a company recently identified by Clutch.co and CrowdReviews as a Top Application Development Agency in Canada, is one of the few mobile app developers who has wholeheartedly embraced Beacons. In their words, they’ll “take the bet that beacons will soon be everywhere,” and are already looking to take on clients who want to explore what Beacons can do for their business.
As with many emerging technologies, the possibilities are virtually endless at this point, and as the technology continues to become both smaller and more technically complex, it’s safe to assume that Beacons are only going to become more prevalent in our lives. Whether it’s tied to running tailored loyalty programs, delivering in-store coupons or ad campaigns, taking automatic payments, or communicating event information, Beacons are going to change the way brands and consumers interact. With Beacons already either in use or in trials in places like London’s famous Regent Street, companies like Hudson’s Bay, or major hubs like the Miami Airport, you can — and should — expect to encounter Beacons in the wild sooner than later.