Apple Lauches iBeacon Micro-Location Technology in 254 Stores
The micro-location revolution is already under way, engaging shoppers with offers. But Apple's launch may propel it into the mainstream.Apple will begin using its iBeacon technology in 254 of its U.S. retail stores Dec. 6, the Associated Press reported the same day. The technology will enable customers who download the Apple Store app and agree to be tracked to receive very location-specific offers. Someone standing beside an iPhone table might receive an offer to trade in an old phone, for example, or a discount on a new one. The technology is based on Bluetooth, so it works within a small area, though various beacons can be dialed up or back—to cover a whole store, say, or just one aisle. The technology can also be used by shoppers to more easily navigate around a store, to request sales help or to expedite a purchase. At Apple's busy Fifth Avenue store in New York City, said the AP report, 20 iBeacon transmitters are being used, some of them via iPhones and iPads that include the technology within their iOS 7 operating system. Apple introduced OS 7 in September, and while it didn't discuss iBeacon directly, it flashed its name during the presentation, listing it as a feature within its software development kit (SDK) for developers. (GigaOm caught a snap from the event.)
Given that device users agree to have their exact locations known, developers can use the technology to do things like offer information about the painting a person is standing in front of in a museum, say when the next bus will arrive at the stop one is waiting at or, of course, offer specific coupons to a person already in a store—or holding an item.