iBeacons: Cool or Scary?

What’s an iBeacon?

You may not have heard about them yet but iBeacons are the future and set to grow in popularity rapidly. The iBeacon is a little device that transmits Bluetooth at a very low energy level. It runs off a single AA battery that can run for over a year before the battery runs out. An iBeacon sends out messages that apps installed on iPhones are able to detect. As an example, if you have an airline app installed on your iPhone, when you pass a bureau de change, the app receives information from the iBeacon, and alerts you that there is a commission-free deal available right now to exchange currency.

They’re already happening

Pretty clever eh? Virgin Atlantic announced this week it has installed IBeacons at Heathrow airport that provide this exact service. MoneyCorp is a partner of Virgin Atlantic and any passengers that have the Virgin app on their iPhone will now receive offers like this one.

ibeacons-in-airports

What else can iBeacons do?

This is where iBeacon technology gets even cleverer. For passengers flying upper class, as they approach the security area, the iBeacon will trigger the Virgin iPhone app to automatically open their electronic boarding pass on the phone so that security can scan it. No fumbling around with bags and trying to locate your boarding pass. Read more about how Virgin Atlantic are using iBeacons here. It’s impressive stuff. *Image courtesy of Wiki.

For those with privacy concerns

Not everyone embraces this kind of new technology and it can make some people feel very uncomfortable. You do have the option to switch off these notifications via your privacy settings, and of course not have these kind of apps installed in the first place.

ibeacon-in-shopBeacons are the future

The iBeacon, or ‘beacons’ themselves, can work across various platforms, not just on IOS. The term iBeacon refers to the specification for beacons that Apple have produced. Any companies wanting to use iBeacons have to get a license from Apple to do so. The potentials for iBeacon technology are incredible. Imagine walking into a football stadium and automatically receiving information on your phone about the game ahead. Or arrive in a department store and be told which areas have sales. The list goes on. Right now Tesco are using this technology to alert customers who have arrived in store to collect a preordered item. Eventually they’ll start using it for marketing. Some businesses in London are starting to use beacons to alert customers of discounts when they present their alert at the till. *Image courtesy of 9to5mac.com

What do you think?

The use of iBeacons is set to soar in the coming months. Will you embrace this new technology and think it’s pretty cool, or do you find it’s all too scary and intrusive?

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