iBeacon Update: Success Factors and Myths

Beacons will change the way our phones respond to proximity – a paradigm change from location-based interactions.

It will move us from coupons being delivered in a store aisle to an understanding that everything can be a beacon – from a moving car to another person, from the front door of a store to the band on stage at a festival.

Beacons aren’t about where we are, they’re about what we’re close to. And while the difference might seem subtle when you’re thinking about the “location” of the cookie aisle of a store, the concept of measuring proximity to something has deep implications for UX design and physical world experiences.

Internet of Things: Waterloo Edition

Those were a few of the messages in our talk this week at the first Internet of Things Meet-Up in Waterloo. (Check out some cool photos of the event).

The event gave us a chance to meet with some of the people working in one of the hottest start-up and technology hubs on the planet.

Waterloo is home to a Google campus that generates over $1B in value for the company and the city creates some of the best engineering talent on the planet at the same universities that gave us Blackberry and dozens of other once (and future) all stars.

The event was fantastic, sponsored by Terepac and organized by Ian Pilon. (You can also keep up with the community via Twitter).

We were honored to present at the conference and presented the above deck, which gave a top-level overview of beacons, a few success factors in their deployment, and a few myths.

Among the other thoughts we shared:

  • There’s significant concern about Bluetooth LE beacon security. These concerns, while disproportionate to the actual risk, will drive a new generation of hub/node deployments of beacons
  • Beacons don’t track people – but the difference doesn’t really matter. They’ll tend to highlight the fact that you’re being tracked already which will put pressure on retailers and developers to not, well, screw up on user privacy.
  • Android is lagging. Not just because Kit Kat adoption is slower than adoption of iOS7, but because their APIs, SDKs and developer tools are less robust than Apple. But don’t expect them to sit idle – we predicted that Android would start to see very different implementations of beacons and Bluetooth LE proximity profiles than the iBeacon specification.

The meeting generated some great discussion and lots of questions. The group will meet four times a year – and is frankly worth the trip, especially if you can also spare a day or two to meet some of the amazing talent working in the area.

Share Your Thoughts

Join our weekly e-mail list for more on iBeacons. Join the conversation on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Checking out the slides we presented, are there any myths or insights you’d add? Top lessons for helping folks understand the importance of beacons?

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