Andrew Sinclair-Pearson

Innovative ways of harnessing iBeacons

I recently wrote an article about beacon technology and its growing use in the B2B arena. There is so much talk about this technology, with many companies pushing forward their plans to implement beacons into their marketing campaigns, so I wanted to provide an update and look at some of the most innovative uses of beacon technology that I’ve seen recently.

For those who aren’t familiar with beacon technology, I would encourage you to read my last article, but as a recap, a beacon is a small wireless device that uses the latest version of Bluetooth (BLE), to relay signals from a beacon to a smartphone or smart device in its vicinity. The beacon can read information from the smart device and then send content back to it based on that information.

Over 1.5 billion people have access to a smartphone now, so it makes sense for businesses to start using beacons to target their audience by delivering specific messages to a smartphone or tablet once they know their proximity. Already, more than 200 million iOS devices can act as receivers and transmitters, opening up doors for new kinds of innovation for marketers to target and engage with their audience.

Here are some of the more interesting implementations of the technology I’ve seen so far.

Grolsch Beer
Hot off the press, Grolsch has found an innovative way to use beacons in its beer bottles – well caps to be precise. They’re offering free movies in an initiative called ‘Movie unlocker’ where you simply open your bottle of beer to activate the beacon and bring the cap near to your smartphone to unlock your movie. Each cap is unique, so you have to buy more beer if you want to watch more movies.

Nivea and iBeacons
Nivea, promoting protection, created an app around iBeacons that monitors a child’s proximity on busy locations such as the beach. The app works with a low cost paper beacon bracelet that you put around the child’s wrist and if the child goes further than the distance you set in the app, the iBeacon sends a message to the phone alerting the parent. This is a very clever use of technology to do something really useful for the user.

BeaconCrawl is a pub-crawl with a tech twist relying on iBeacons to help participants along the way; revealing secret locations, discount offers on drinks and even games to play. The first BeaconCrawl was launched in May this year in New York and is a great example of how the technology can attempt to gamify experiences to encourage audience interaction.

United Nations minefield simulation
For the UN’s International Day for Mine Awareness, New Museum in New York City hosted an exhibit that used iBeacons to simulate a virtual minefield and let anyone experience the danger of land mines. When a person comes too close to a transmitter, it acts as a land mine and detonates, filling the user’s headphones with a jarring, visceral explosion followed by an audio testimony of someone’s actual experience. Users are then invited to make a small donation of $5 to help ensure no one ever has to go through what they just did. Great use of immersive technology to drive home a message.

Airport lounges
Virgin Atlantic is utilising beacon technology at Heathrow Airport to send notifications to customers within a certain range in order to prepare their electronic boarding passes. They are also using them to notify staff of temperature changes in the cabin so they can provide customers with blankets or increase the airflow during the flight. American Airlines also trialed beacon technology to communicate seat upgrades and offers once a passenger passed the security gate, and is therefore more likely to be relaxed.

Business networking
Beacon technology can be used at business networking events to match attendee profiles, and draw them to locations where other related users are gathering, thereby helping them to navigate the frustrating world of networking at events.

All these examples demonstrate that beacons can provide unprecedented means for companies to engage with their audience within their environment. Whilst the technology is still relatively new, I’m confident we’ll be seeing it put to use in more ways; transforming experiences, making them more personal and allowing people to feel more engaged and attached to a physical environment.

As with many new technologies, it’s all about companies figuring out the best use of this exciting new capability to bring real value to their audience. If you would like more information on some of the ways your business might benefit from this exciting technology, please contact us – or download our iBeacon eBook for more information about beacon technology.

The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Beacon Technology

Discover how beacon technology might re-shape the future of B2B marketing.

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