iBeacon technology and user experience

14th January 2015
Posted by in Brain Bites: 2 Minute Insights
Tags: ,

Over the last few years Bunnyfoot have been increasingly involved in in-store user experience work, museum experiences, airport and train station experiences etc. As the digital and offline worlds become increasingly fused (mainly due to the ubiquity of mobile but also now wearables and newer initiatives such as the Internet of Things) organisations are investigating how physical experiences can be augmented and improved with technology. One such technology is iBeacons.  

iBeacons have been touted as the next big thing in mapping, hyper local content, indoor navigation, in-store advertising, knowledge sharing, the Internet of Things, wearables, market research data collection and more.

What are iBeacons?

Small low energy Bluetooth transmitters that can communicate with devices e.g. smartwatches, tablets, smartphones. Many iBeacons are manufactured to be platform independent (ie. Android or Apple compatible).

iBeacons allow precise geo-location targeting, based on the proximity of the device to the transmitter and location-triggered content transfer/exchange, data collection and activation of other devices. Geo-location data can be combined with contextual information (e.g. time of day/purchase history) for targeted content delivery/exchange.

How common are iBeacons?

Wired estimates that there are already 200 million iBeacons in use, and ABI Research estimates that by 2019, the iBeacon hardware market will grow to approximately 60 billion units.

Smartwatches, although seemingly slow to take off, are predicted to sell more than 92 million units globally by 2018 (BI Research), particularly when the Apple iWatch becomes commercially available. Smartphones and other iBeacon compatible devices (e.g. tablets) are already ubiquitous, meaning many consumers already have the technology in their pocket to benefit from iBeacon implementation.

The true potential of iBeacon technology can be found when combined with User Experience:

The potential of iBeacon technology is seemingly endless, with the possibility for mobile payments (Apple smartwatch and Touch ID); indoor navigation (e.g. Heathrow Airport are partnering with Apple to develop indoor mapping of their terminals using iBeacons); retail use for in-store advertising, coupons, vouchers, merging the online & offline experience, loyalty rewards; Personal Asset Tracking (e.g. proximity of valuables, luggage tracking) and far more already taking place.

However the real value of iBeacon technology can be seen when it is combined with users’ personal information:

      • Personalising user experience: for example wearables could be used in museums to make tours contextually aware and interactive; Secret Cinema immersive experiences
      • Connected Home: The Internet of Things and wearables (e.g. auto-activation of Hive/Nest heating systems via location-based smartwatch trigger, Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon’s Echo, Signul)
      • Customer engaged location-based triggers: collect real-time customer feedback via various devices (smartwatch/tablet/smartphone)
      • Customer engaged advertising: personalised advertising, relevant content, social media integration.

Want to learn more?

At Bunnyfoot we are currently conducting a number of projects where iBeacon technology will benefit customers. The first being a study of airport user experience, the different pain points encountered and how these could be improved. The second is looking at iBeacons for navigating around museums and other public spaces.

We’re aiming to run a Bunnytalk in June on this very topic, if you’re interested in attending, contact Jo Hutton at jo@bunnyfoot.com

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