Most smartphone users are familiar with mobile app beacon technology, although they may not hear the actual term “beacon” too often. It’s the technology that allows an app to generate notifications or alerts when a user’s device enters a particular geographical area. Marketing firms now use mobile app beacons to engage users when they’re in the physical vicinity of a store or restaurant, while the travel and tourism industry uses beacon technology to provide self-guided tourists with information about landmarks or points of interest. But these applications represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s possible with mobile app beacon technology. There is a wide range of potential beacon uses associated with the Internet of Things or IoT, and it’s an area we expect will receive lots of attention in the not-so-distant future.
How Can You Use Mobile App Beacon Technology for the IoT?
The IoT is growing by leaps and bounds, with more and more gadgets and devices joining the mix. The potential applications for IoT technology both in the home and in business are tremendous—a point many companies have already realized. But the possibilities for the IoT are multiplied exponentially when you add mobile app beacon technology into the equation.
Beacons are tied to a particular location and when a device that’s equipped with a specific app enters a predefined region, the beacon emits a signal. This signal can include a wide variety of data, from a notification or alert to a prompt that initiates a process or a display on a mobile device (e.g. a page with a write-up about a point of interest for tourists).
In the case of the IoT, beacon technology can initiate a process, which is particularly useful. Let’s say you have a warehouse that’s equipped with autonomous bots that are programmed to retrieve products from the shelves and then deliver those products to the order fulfillment center. It would be possible to develop a mobile app that alerts order fulfillment center staff when the bot passes a particular location while en route to the designated drop-off spot. This would allow the fulfillment center staff to prepare for the bot’s arrival by pulling up the order on their device, selecting the proper box size and printing a shipping label.
Beacon IoT technology could also be advantageous in a factory setting. Perhaps your company has a manufacturing mobile app that uses beacons to prompt a machine to shift from standby mode to active mode when a particular device approaches its proximity. This could be a tremendous time-saver that improves efficiency and productivity by forming a connection between various devices and machines.
Mobile app beacon technology could be equally useful for a car share company, as it would be beneficial to outfit each vehicle with an IoT beacon that indicates the vehicle’s exact location when a driver launches the car share app to find an available vehicle. In fact, the transportation industry is already using the IoT and beacons in some clever ways. For instance, Uber uses beacon technology to tell riders when available cars are nearby. (Not to be confused with Uber’s beacon pilot program, which involves a physical beacon device that lights up in a particular color to help the rider identify their vehicle.)
Can Your Company Benefit from Mobile App Beacon Technology?
If proximity matters in your business, then your company can likely benefit from beacon technology. For example, retailers and restaurants could use a mobile app beacon to provide special discounts or offers to app users who are near a store or restaurant location. In addition, virtually every company in the logistics, transportation and travel industries can stand to benefit from this technology.
Businesses that rely on the IoT would see the greatest benefit, though. Let’s say your company designs and manufactures smart home IoT equipment. You could conceivably use beacon technology to turn on the lights, alter the thermostat setting and open the garage door when the resident’s mobile device comes within a specific proximity to the home. This is just one way that companies can use beacons to make IoT technology even more useful.
Of course, not every mobile app developer specializes in beacons and the IoT, so you’ll need to choose a development team that’s adept at leveraging this emerging technology. At 7T, our developers are on the cutting-edge, as we specialize in some of the newest up-and-coming technologies, from beacons to predictive analytics engines, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and natural language processing.
Based in Dallas, 7T has regional offices in Austin and Houston. But our clients are scattered throughout the United States. So no matter where you’re located, we encourage you to contact our team today to discuss your project.