We’re starting to see huge indications that iBeacons will fundamentally change the way we interact with the physical world. While Apple’s iPhone can act as an iBeacon itself, it’s third party Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) hardware devices that are really stealing the show early on in the iBeacon Platform. These devices (made by Estimote, Gimbal, and many other manufacturers) paired with mobile apps turn physical world into a playground for our digital devices.
Just how are BLE and iBeacons already changing your world? In the first 5 months of iBeacons retailers and professional sports organizations have been the first to capitalize on the potential of iBeacons, and large scale deployments are starting to ramp up. Here are eight companies exploring the potential of iBeacons, in order of deployment date:
1776 / September 19, 2013
Radius Networks, Inc., announces the first commercially deployed proximity services network based on Apple’s iOS 7 iBeacon technology for iPhones and iPads at Washington, DC-based startup incubator 1776. 1776 uses the technology to automatically turn lights on and off in rooms and send targeted messaging around its campus.
MLB (New York Mets) / September 26, 2013 (expanding for 2014 season)
MLB demonstrates the new technology at the New York Mets’ Citi Field, showing off several potential applications. Fans who purchase their tickets from MLB see their ticket’s barcode automatically displayed on their device as they approach the gate alongside a map of their seat location.
UPDATE: In attempt to make the ballpark experience more engaging for fans, Major League Baseball plans to roll out Apple’s new iBeacons technology for the upcoming 2014 season, delivering targeted information and offers based on a fan’s location within the park.
MacRumors says 20 of the 30 teams in the league — including the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, LA Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants — will have their stadiums outfitted with around 100 beacons in March
Macy’s – 2 stores / November 20, 2013
Shopkick becomes the first company to implement the technology in a retail setting. Macy’s locations at Union Square, San Francisco and Herald Square, NYC were selected for the roll out. Shopkick’s technology allows Macy’s to serve up different offers based on the floor or department the customer is in. In addition to proximity alerts, the technology allows a customer to “like” a specific product in the app, then be notified with a message when he/she enters the store that sells it.
Apple – all 254 retail locations / December 8, 2013
Apple Implements iBeacons in all 254 of their retail stores. By doing this, Apple sets the stage for evolving retail strategy and showing other retailers how the technology might be useful when implemented in a ‘best practices’ kind of way.
Safeway and Giant Eagle / 200 stores, January 6 2014
inMarket undergoes a huge roll out of iBeacons to grocery stores including Safeway and Giant Eagle locations in Seattle, San Francisco and Cleveland. The roll out includes deploying BLE beacons at the entry of over 200 stores throughout the US. The beacons will be used in a variety of ways with the primary goal to reach shoppers who are walking in or right near a store in order with relevant content.
American Eagle – 100 stores / January 16 2014
Shopkick announces a retail deal with American Eagle to deploy iBeacons at 100 stores Nationwide, thus becoming the largest deployment of iBeacons in apparel sales to date. Shoppers will get a welcome message when they enter an American Eagle Outfitters, with details of location-specific rewards, deals, discounts and product recommendations in the store. The key is that these messages get pushed without customers needing to open the app.
NFL – Super Bowl XLVIII / January 31 2014
The National Football League installs iBeacons at MetLife Stadium as well as Times Square for Super Bowl XLVIII. In perhaps the boldest installation to date, the NFL sets up dozens of beacons around Times Square and MetLife Stadium. The iBeacon alerts sent to people who download the NFL mobile app contain messages directing iPhone owners to merchandise, NFL exhibits, shorter concessions lines and, of course, the big game itself.
Coca Cola / World Cup 2014
In view of the forthcoming football World Cup held in Brazil next summer, Coca Cola is preparing a new marketing strategy that will make use of iBeacon technology. People will be able to receive messages from Coca Cola based on their location, with local tips on where to go or on games in progress and where you can find a can of ice cold Coca-Cola.
In all these initial explorations of iBeacon and BLE we are seeing the huge potential to connect with consumers in ways that will improve and enhance our every day lives. But there are many other compelling iBeacon ideas too. Museums, hotels, smart homes, are all great non-retail applications of iBeacons. Imagine a home that reacts to you or an app that can help the visually impaired navigate a new space. The possibilities are limitless. What possibilities are most exciting to you? Leave us a comment below.