Kids, iBeacons and the Internet of Things

children-device-useIt isn’t just shoppers or visitors to museums who will benefit from iBeacon technology: kids are an obvious next frontier for content that’s enabled by a world of connected devices.

The latest report by Common Sense Media outlines the stunning growth in access to smart devices amongst kids.

Compared to 2011, five times as many kids now have access to a tablet device such as an iPad, reaching a stunning 40% of families in 2013 versus 8% in 2011. Throw in smart phones, and 75% of kids now have access to a smart device.

The report is based on a survey of 1,463 parents conducted this past summer and included an over-sampling of African-American and Latino parents. Its focus is on media use amongst children age 8 and under.

The Becosystem
(hat tip to Local Social for the term!)

The value of iBeacons is the abilty to deliver content based on proximity. Unlike GPS, iBeacons work indoors and can be precise down to a few square feet.

This proximity technology is a natural complement to geofencing and geoaware advertising and content delivery….and lets organizations or brands deliver content that can be narrowed down to a place that’s as specific as a product display in a grocery aisle.

Based on Bluetooth LE, I think of iBeacons as nodes on the Internet of Things. When combined with sensors for temperature, smart devices like thermostats or fire alarms, and embedded sensors in products or environments we’re on a path to creating a mesh of digital data that both hums along silently in the background….and comes to the foreground in the form of stories, coupons, ads or location-based experiences.

But adults, of course, aren’t the only people moving around in the world.

Children's-use-of-media
Common Sense Media Report on Casual Use of Devices

Kids and Local/Mobile Experiences

Deeper in the Common Sense report is some data that I find pretty astonishing:

44% of parents report that they let their child play with a smart phone or tablet when running errands together.

So imagine you’re crafting an in-store experience for parents using iBeacon technology. You picture delivering content to the busy mom to help her choose between products or to deliver a coupon based on which section of the store she’s in.

It turns out, however, that if the parent has their child with them there’s a pretty good chance that it’s the CHILD who has the device in their hand instead of the parent.

What’s Your Local Experience for Kids?

The programs we’re developing at LOCOLO are all about experiences: using iBeacon and location-aware technology to create an intersection of storytelling and engagement between the physical and digital worlds.

I’m inspired by companies like GeLo  who are already thinking outside the box when it comes to experiences for kids – with things like scavenger hunts through the physical world, enabled by smart devices.

The stats from the latest Common Sense report are an eye-opener. It’s not just that kids are playing game apps (although I find it really amazing the combination of ‘adult’ and ‘kid’ titles they’re playing), it’s not that there’s so many of them, it’s the realization that kids are just as mobile as the rest of us – playing with smart phones not just at home, but out and about in the world.

The kinds of experiences we can create for them, the care we take in protecting their privacy and security, can help turn a child’s natural affinity to the screen into a gateway to physical world awareness and connection, extending the idea that we’re headed towards a “renaissance of reality“.

Now all we need to do is fire up our imaginations and go.

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