The Future of Beacon Technology

By DeVry University

Imagine getting exclusive access to special sales or personalized coupons as you walk into your favorite store. Thanks to beacon technology, it's already possible. Beacons are tiny electronic transmitters that send signals to apps installed on Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices that enter the area, allowing for a more personalized shopping experience. For example, when you walk into a phone store, the store's beacon might send a push message to your phone with information about special deals and whether you're eligible for an upgrade.

Beacons Explained

You don't even need a Wi-Fi connection to take advantage of beacons. This location-based technology uses Bluetooth to connect to sensors, which then identify phones that are within the general area — typically anywhere from 1 foot to 55 yards — and then sends specific, personal messages to those phones. Beacons can send information to devices anywhere, and it isn’t necessary for those devices to maintain connections to internet or cellular signals to receive beacon communications. This means it’s easier to receive personalized coupons or helpful location information simply by enabling Bluetooth connectivity on your devices — and without using up cellular data.

Retailers have been among the first major industries to adapt this advanced technology, but many other businesses, from sports arenas to conference facilities to hospitals, are jumping on the beacon bandwagon to learn more about customers and engage with them in a new, more personalized way. Examples include:

  • Museums: Museum curators can provide exclusive content such as videos, discussions and reviews for visitors who have the museum's app installed as they walk through the facility
  • Higher Education: Several universities, including Johns Hopkins University and Stony Brook University, use beacons to help guide people around campus. Others use beacons to send special events messages and coupons for campus eateries.
  • Health Care: Beacons can help guide patients through a large facility to find the office or department they need and simplify registrations or checking in. They can even send a message with the approximate waiting time as you walk into an emergency room or urgent care clinic.

The "Two Bs"

Big Data and beacons, dubbed the "Two Bs" by Phunware, have the capability to work together giving retailers and other businesses all the information they need to create improved, personalized consumer experiences. Examples of the data beacons collect include:

  • Customers' in-store behaviors, favorite products and locations: This deep data helps retailers understand shopping behavior to create personalized offers and suggestions for loyal customers
  • Identifying the most popular locations in the store based on customer dwell times and walking patterns: This information lets retailers design store layouts based on what customers prefer to look at
  • Customer information such as favorite brands, birthdays and other shopping information: This information gives sales associates the inside scoop they need to best approach each customer

The Future of Evolving Beacon Tech

This amazing technological advancement is set to revitalize retail and other business in multiple ways while offering a variety of benefits for companies and consumers. As businesses continue to create new technology integration strategies, beacons' uses will likely continue to grow. Examples of some current benefits include:

  • Create personalized messages to greet customers: When beacons are placed at the entrance and/or exit to a business, this offers an excellent opportunity to send personalized welcome or farewell messages to enhance the customer experience and automate exit surveys
  • Guide people to specific areas or products: Beacons can direct people where they need to go — whether that's the restroom, customer service department or shelves that contain specific products
  • Take in-store experiences to a new level: From sending coupon offers while customers shop to expanding a business's ability to distribute helpful advertisements and promotions — such as games, product models and surveys — beacons elevate consumer experiences by making it easier for customers to interact with their favorite brands.

Since iBeacons were first introduced in 2013, these tools have propelled the evolution of technology. From business information technology to retail, the growing interconnectivity that beacons represent offers new, exciting opportunities for consumers and businesses alike.

Considering the benefits that beacons already bring to the table, the future of beacon technology should be nothing short of fascinating. In this fast-paced digital world, where evolving technology progresses at a rapid rate, keeping your skills sharp is one of the most important keys to remaining competitive in the job market.

Brought to you by DeVry University. In 1931, Herman DeVry founded a university that embraced technology.  Today, we are putting technology at the core of our business, tech and healthcare programs, to help prepare our students to solve tomorrow’s problems.