WWDC 2014: Apple To Push For iBeacon Tech
Forget about the ?Great Outdoors?. In the ongoing Apple WWDC, Apple is exploring the ?Great Indoors? by offering the iBeacon Technology that will provide an indoor ?GPS? with the use of apps in mobile devices.
The latest ?i? product / service to come out of Apple Inc. (AAPL) will be ?pushed? in the ongoing WWDC (Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, June 2-6, 2014, San Francisco). This is the iBeacon Technology that promises to be the tech for indoor spaces, the same way GPS is for the outdoors.
What is the iBeacon technology?
So far, here are bits of what Apple has revealed before the WWDC : With iBeacons….
- ?mobile apps are able to locate users with the accuracy of a few centimeters.
- ?a handset can direct a user to an available parking space, or the shortest line in a food stall.
- …diners can settle their bill without assistance from a waiter.
- …museum goers can receive instant information as they pass through an exhibit display
- ?there will be no need to consult a map in a shopping mall to know the location of a store.
Although other companies like Ebay Inc. (EBAY), are developing the same technology (for their PayPal business), the push being made by a company like Apple, is what the technology needs to propel it to mainstream use. At present, it is reported that millions and millions of iPhones are equipped to detect iBeacon signals, which is why Apple is encouraging developers (hence, the push in the WWDC), to utilize this capability, by creating more beacon enabled apps.
Apple is being very careful with its approach on the iBeacon tech, as it is still in a very young stage, and many users, particularly retailers, might be concerned about the privacy issues that come with such high tech detection services.
Apple is quick to clarify that the iBeacon transmitters do not ?track? users as they only send out signals, and do not obtain and collect information. At present, the tech is in very limited use. They are only deployed in a number of Apple stores and a few sports stadiums (Major League Baseball). For the WWDC, Apple is installing iBeacon transmitters around the Moscone Center in San Francisco, to best demonstrate to attendees the use of the technology.
How does the iBeacon Tech work?
- Beacons (transmitters) send out Bluetooth signals to smart devices within 150 meters (approximately).
- Apps are configured to respond to the signals. This enables retailers to send out information to the devices once the user is within distance. An example is sending out discount coupons or promotional offers.
Other companies have utilized the beacon tech in their operations. In Heathrow Airport (London), beacons have been installed by Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., that sends boarding passes to a passenger’s device, once the passenger approaches airport security or the boarding gate.
In the Netherlands, a startup called LabWerk, uses beacons to help motorists inside parking garages, and enables an app to guide them to an available space, and back to their cars.
John Jackson of the IDC says that ?This has the potential to be transformative….It could be the technology that underpins a future where anything you’d want or need to know is delivered to you in the most intelligent of ways.?
Apple sees the iBeacon tech to be an advantage for their iDevices, especially, the iPhone. Apple notes that many Android devices are not functional with beacons, and this is something they want to capitalize on, in the wake of Android’s supposed dominance of the mobile market.
The WWDC is the perfect venue for promoting this tech, as they will need to convince app developers, that the iPhone and the iOS, is still the platform to support, especially with the growing use of the iBeacon tech.
WWDC is a 5 day meeting of 1,000 Apple engineers and 5,000 developers whose primary objective is to ?Write the code. Change the World?.
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Image Source: Facebook – WWDC 2014