We’ve been getting a lot of questions from our customers about iBeacons, the latest indoor proximity system. The number one question about this new technology is how to use it for businesses that are not a brick and mortar retail location. Retail is certainly the easiest companion to the location-based technology, but there are opportunities for other types of businesses to take advantage of iBeacons, you just have to get creative (and have a compatible app – more on that later). Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Event Marketing
The biggest non-retail marketing use for iBeacons is events such as concerts, sporting events, conferences and festivals. Major League Baseball is one of the first sports to already adopt iBeacons. MLB installed iBeacons in 28 ballparks across the U.S. last year to help iPhone owners check-in to games automatically and collect special offers. Other uses of the technology include transferring special notices and electronic programs at industry conferences. For example, at SXSW 2014 iOS users who downloaded the official SXSW app were able to take advantage of iBeacon in select sessions and when picking up their badges. For instance, when the user was near the SXSW registration area, the user received a notification containing their Registration QuickCode.
- Office Management
Have a company where keeping track of employees’ time is important? Instead of relying on employees to clock in and clock out, why not connect iBeacon to a compatible time clock application? As soon as employees pass the iBeacon on their way in, and their way out, the employee’s iOS device sends their location data to the online time clock, and the online time clock software does the rest. Tired of running around the building trying to find a coworker? You could even use it to locate people – or more precisely, their iOS devices – within your office building.
Wouldn’t it be great if you walked into your doctor’s office and did not have to fill out all those registration forms? The patient could fill out all the pertinent information via the hospital or clinic’s patient application, and when the iBeacon detects the patient’s device, she’s is automatically signed in and notified of her expected wait time.
- Assisting People with Special Needs
Many of the smart phone devices come with technology to assist those with disabilities, and we think iBeacons will make these applications even better for the users. Many smartphones currently offer text-to-speech support for the visually impaired. iBeacons could enable users to interact more confidently with their environment, and operate household devices by talking to their phone. An example of this is the Royal London Society for the Blind. They are developing an iBeacon-enabled application to assist visually impaired people with navigating public transit.
- Emergency Preparedness and Response
Using iBeacons in emergency situations could become the norm. AT&T hosted its third Public Safety and Preparedness Hackathon where the first and second place winners built emergency applications using the iBeacons technology. Imagine that you are planning an event or conference, and using an iBeacon enabled application, you can quickly communicate to people in case of an emergency – like getting people to the nearest exits or to storm shelters.
- Education Institutions
It’s your first day in a big campus, and navigating it is a challenge. Wouldn’t it be great if through the university’s welcome application, the iBeacons could help students find their way around campus, alert them to special events or things going on and maybe send them coupons to use in the campus bookstore. Another use could be used for transmitting study aids or classroom materials when the iBeacon detects the student’s device…hmm…can you say, “attendance?”
As with all of these ideas, iBeacons alone are not useful unless you have a mobile application that people download to their device. Once the visitor has your application, then you can communicate with them using iBeacons. iBeacons cannot push notifications on their own, there must be a compatible application.
What’s next? Tell us your ideas on how iBeacons could be used.