Bluetooth Beacon Handbook


Proximity technology shows up in a lot of IoT products, and that includes a growing number of Bluetooth beacon systems for retailers. Much like the Enso Platform for museums that we wrote about recently, retailers can use beacons to enhance the shopping experience based on exactly where each customer is located in the store.

Below we take a look at some of the companies that offer package solutions including beacons and proximity-based content management systems, as well as an overview of the technology and some articles and resources to get you started:


Overview:

The term iBeacon gets thrown around a lot in this area, but that refers specifically to Apple’s iOS protocols, while beacons can take many forms, come from a variety of manufacturers, and can communicate with most recent-model smartphones. Generally, a beacon can be any device that broadcasts a simple “Here I am!” signal, typically over Bluetooth Low Energy.

 

Most beacons don’t transmit or receive content -- that’s handled by smartphone apps and cloud services. The app knows which beacons are near, the cloud service knows where each beacon is located, and working together they can deliver content that reflects the user’s immediate surroundings (Generally up to about a 20-50 meter distance).

 

For retailers, this means they can target ads, coupons, and other content to customers based on which shelf they’re standing in front of, or which section they’re lingering in. They can also collect analytics about the way shoppers move throughout the store, which displays are attracting the most attention, and more.

Unlike some other retail analytics technologies, beacons generally require the user to opt-in by installing an app -- so you won’t have this stuff forced upon you. But there are lots of potential advantages beyond couponing. A location-aware app could make finding product reviews and other information a lot easier, and anyone who’s ever been lost in a large department store knows how useful it would be to have a digital map that can give you turn-by-turn walking directions back to the cash registers. 

 


 

Companies and Products

glimworm
More Details

Glimworm Beacon

Price: Starts at 4 for €99 / No montly fee (Pre-order)

Description:
"A Glimworm Beacon is a small transmitter that uses Apple’s iBeacon standard to push messages to your customers when they are nearby.

The opportunities for proximity marketing, hyper local content, narrowcasting, customer service, and contact-less payment are simply too numerous to think about let alone write down. The results are simply mind-blowing."

Features
- Free custom branding
- Open Source software
 
kontaktMore Details

Kontakt

Price: Dev kit w/ 3 for $99 

Description:
"Build your own iBeacon micro-location solution in less than an hour. We provide you with a content platform that allows to build micro-location apps without programming skills in no-time. Our Dev Kit includes all you need to start."

Features
  • Beacon battery life up to three years (coin)
  • Custom 3-D printed cases
  • Content platform to build apps, no programming needed
  • Rest API integratione
 
footmarksMore Details

Footmarks

Price: N/A (Upon request)

Description:
"Footmarks is an experience platform that delivers relevant and personalized engagements through secure beacon technology, in real-time within the retail environment.

Footmarks is focused on providing a secure, actionable, and intuitive experience for both the consumer and the retailer. Our team believes the future of retail is a more intelligent environment."

Features:
  • Patent-pending security protocol
  • Beacon management & analytics dashboard
  • Loyalty program package 
  • Rest API integration
  • iOS & Android SDK
  • long-lasting beacon battery life (2+ years)
 
sonic-notifyMore Details

Sonic Notify

Price: 5 for $300

Description:
"Sonic Notify is a complete enterprise-class solution. We provide support, beacons, and a robust platform that enables analytics and precise proximity-based content delivery to smartphone applications."

Features
  • Cloud-based content management system and analytics platform
  • Beacons use audio signals to communicate with older phones that lack Bluetooth - Sound waves embedded with data can push targeted content to mobile devices
  • Android and iOS SDKs
 
estimoteMore Details

Estimote

Price: 3 for $99 (Pre-order)

Description:
"Real world context for your apps. Simply stick our tiny sensors in any physical place, such as your retail store and your app users will benefit from personalized micro-location based notifications and actions when they walk in to your venue or interact with your products."

Features
  • Beacon battery life up to two years (coin)
  • Analytics platform in development
  • SDK and API
 
bluecatMore Details

Bluecats 

Price: 3 for $99 (Pre-order)

Description:
"BlueCats makes micro location context possible on a macro scale.
enhance a mobile experience with location specific contextprovide your app users with a more relevant experiencetruly understand how app users interact with the real world"

Features
  • Beacon battery life up to three years (2xAAA)
  • Enterprise platform for beacon management and real-time analytics
  • SDK
  • Video
 
GeLo-BeaconMore Details

GeLo

Price: 3 for $94

Description:
"Anyone can make a beacon. We're creating the most robust SDK and CMS. Our platform is being used far beyond retail and integrates easily into existing apps.

The patent pending GeLo System consists of Beacons, GeLo-enabled Apps & the Content Management System (CMS).  Tags are deployed at any indoor or outdoor venue at Points of Interest or Wayfinding Points."

Features
  • Beacon battery life up to two years (2xAAA)
  • Cloud-based content management system and analytics platform
  • SDK
  • Video
 
paypal-beaconMore Details

Paypal Beacon

Price: N/A

Description:
"PayPal Beacon is a Bluetooth Low Energy device to connect to a customer’s PayPal app when they enter a store. With one vibration or sound on your phone, you’ll know you’re checked in. And when you’re ready to make a purchase, all you have to do is say you’re paying with PayPal and the transaction is automatically completed: no cash, cards, taps, or signatures required—all hands free."

Features
 
roximityMore Details

Roximity

Price: 3 pack for $100

Description:
"Whether your customers are down the street or have just stepped inside, we’ll help you reach them with relevant and timely information they’ll appreciate — and begin to count on for guidance. The ROXIMITY Platform provides everything needed to create, manage and optimize mobile-marketing campaigns that both respect customers’ privacy and give sellers full control of the indoor, mobile experience."

Features
  • Compatible with Android and IBeacon
  • Analytics
  • Mobile SDK
 
Radius-Networks-BeaconMore Details

Radius Networks

Price: 1 for $29 
Apps: Apple (Code)

Description:
"Radius Networks proximity service platforms utilize a combination of mobile wireless technologies to detect the presence of visitors and the mobile devices they carry.

RadBeacon USB is a fully standalone proximity iBeacon implemented in a tiny USB package that can be powered by any available USB power source."

Features
  • USB powered beacons
  • Cloud-based content management system and analytics platform
  • SDK, beacon hardware development kit, open-source API
 
sensorbergMore Details

Sensorberg

Price: 3 Beacon starter kit  for €89.00 
Apps: Apple (Code)

Description:
"Getting started is very easy. Register your iBeacon UUIDs in our Management System. Copy our code (SDK) into your app. Configure your own proximity notifications connected to your iBeacons. Websites, Offers, Pictures, Coupons, Social Profiles, all is possible."

Features
  • Beacon battery life up to 10 months (coin)
  • Cloud-based content management system
  • SDK
 
swirl1More Details

Swirl Platfrom & SecureCast Beacons

Price: N/A

Description:
"Swirl's platform is robust enough to handle the needs of even the largest retailers but simple enough to deploy in a matter of days. Swirl's mobile client SDK can be added to existing mobile apps in less than a day and in-store indoor positioning beacons can be set up in any store location in a matter of minutes."

Features
  • Marketing Console for managing and analyzing in-store campaigns.
  • iBeacon support
  • SDK
 
  Additional
  • LOCOLO
  • Airfy - "WiFi HotSpots don’t need to be dumb, or ugly. So ours aren't. Ours think and they care about you"
  • ShopBeacon - Shopkick

 

Stand-Alone


Many other companies offer stand-alone beacons that can be integrated with existing apps or used to build customized proximity systems. Some of the currently available options include:

bluebarMore Details

BlueBar Beacon

Price: Integration Kit £64.99 - Retail £84.99

Description:
"The BlueBar Beacon is currently available to order in two variations – as an integration kit and as an end-user device. Key features of the BlueBar Beacon include being fully iBeacon compatible. Works with Android 4.3+ devices. Runs on a single CR2450 3V Lithium battery for up to two years and is CE, FCC, IC, Japan, and South Korea certified."

Features
  • Beacon battery life up to two years (coin)
  • Fully customizable broadcast parameters
  • Mobile SDK in development
 
gimbalMore Details

Gimbal

Price: 1 - 4,999$20 plus s/h

Description:
"The Gimbal™ context aware and proximity platform utilizes geofencing, micro-location, interest sensing, beacons enabled with Bluetooth® Smart technology and consumer privacy controls. It allows developers to design mobile apps that drive consumer engagement, sales, and loyalty by providing real-time context and location awareness in apps for brands, retailers, and venues.."

Features
  • iBeacon 
  • Gimbal SDK Manager portal and APIs
  • Two models - 1 coincell 1 4 AA's
  • Video
 
  Additional

 

Platform Focused

  • Mobile to Mortar™ iBeacon Platform 
  • Datzing
    "Datzing was built to empower users to leverage their existing wireless signals as proximity beacons - linking real world experiences to the web"
  • Beacify
    "Beacify gives you the platform and SDK to manage your complete beacon inventory."
  • Thirdshelf
    "Using a combination of branded mobile loyalty apps and iBeacons, we provide retailers with instant and ongoing customer insights, the ability to engage customers with timely and relevant offers, to greet them personally when they come in store and offer a tailored in store experience."
  • LocalSocial
    "LocalSocial provides a Full Stack Proximity Solution. Developer or White-Label ready (or both!). Your brand. Our platform. Proximity- and iBeacon-power your apps and services. In days, not months."

Additional Products

  • MacBeacon for OSX
    "With the MacBeacon app you can turn any Macintosh computer that is running OS X® 10.9 or higher and is equipped with built-in or third party Bluetooth 4.0 into your own, fully-configurable iBeacon."

DIY

 

Resources & Articles


General

Books

Investments
  • 10/23/2013 Estimote - $3.1M Seed (Innovation Endeavors, Betaworks, Bessemer Venture Partners, Birchmere Ventures, Valiant Capital Partners and others) - Press Release
  • 1/23/2014 Sensorberg - $1m Seed (Berlin Technologie Holding and angels) - Press Release

Application Specific


Museums

Retail
Events

Misc

  • BeHere - An App developed in order to "help organizing attendance and help requests within 2.0 learning environments. Using proximity, teachers can automatically identify which students are accessing the classroom, and easily manage help requests using an ordered line, always up-to-date."

Apps

 

Android

IOS