Apple’s iBeacon is an indoor positioning system based on Bluetooth Low Energy that can send push notifications to smartphones running iOS or Android. Sounds interesting but what could such a technology be used for?
A trivial baby steps example was rolled out by Apple last December when the company deployed iBeacons in their 254 US retail stores. Now, if you’ve loaded the Apple Store app and opted-in for in-store notifications, when you enter a store you’ll get a ‘Hey, what up, Machead?’ and the suggestion to open the app for help and service. Apple is apparently so far not collecting any data other than how many people have enabled iBeacon notifications.
More effective uses would be for navigation in large, complex buildings such as hospitals, guided tours around museums and exhibitions, and point-of-sale promos and alerts.
The kit includes a battery- or USB-powered beacon in an enclosure, the iOS BeaconManager Configuration App setting up a beacon, and example code for iOS iBeacon-aware apps. The beacon’s Universally Unique ID (UUID) as well as major and minor IDs can be set and the transmit power and broadcast rate can also be configured and the beacon’s firmware is upgradable over the air. Check out IoT Design Shop’s Bluetooth LE and iBeacon Primer and their Integrating iBeacon with Your Apps document for more background.
At $49.99 the IoT Design Shop Beacon Development Kit is a cheap entry point for iBeacon research and development. And if you want an iBeacon app developed, IoT Design Shop can also help you out.