iBeacon Technology

How Do iBeacons Function? The Technology Behind Them!

Apple subtly introduced the iBeacon technology as part of the iOS 7 launch at WWDC 2013.

Ever since then, companies have taken advantage of this technology for their business and launched products and services that make perfect use of iBeacons.

In this post we will discuss different aspects of iBeacons including its working phenomenon, feasibility for businesses, processing architecture, security and more…

How do iBeacons work?

  • iBeacons work on very low power. A battery can last more than a fortnight without charging on an iBeacon since it has no display – it is a simple transmitter which relays information.
  • With iBeacons comes in BLE – Bluetooth Low Energy that features the same old Bluetooth that works inside your mobile or laptop, but has a lesser power consumption cycle and works for distances over 50-100 meters, which means it has the equal range of a Local Area Network, but works on wireless technology.
  • Unlike other beacons which have NFC – Near Field Communication chips inside them, BLE works from far whereas to use NFC transfer you need to be in very close proximity to a beacon.

Is It Feasible for Small Businesses?

  • Totally! Beacon chips cost lesser than $5 and the large-sale version costs only $20, whereas NFC chips are on lesser devices as compared to Bluetooth chips.
  • Apple developed iBeacons as a supplement to NFC. NFC still works on most iPhones, but, iBeacons serves a different purpose – business integration and branding promotion.
  • Many companies have adopted them because they are cheap, easy to install, lightweight and easy to configure.
  • They run out-of-the box with any iBeacon compatible app.

What goes on Inside an iBeacon?

  • When a user with Bluetooth switched-on on his/her mobile device passes by an iBeacon or is in the range of an iBeacon, the iBeacon quickly recognizes the MAC address of the user’s device and plots it as a physical location on a virtual map.
  • With this map, the beacon tracks the user’s footsteps and follows him. In the meanwhile, it sends push notifications to the iBeacon compatible apps installed in their mobile device to promote a specific cause, service or product that they can buy or see in the store/outlet nearby.
  • If the user accepts this proposal, the iBeacon in conjunction with the app, guides the user via turn-by-turn directions to the product’s location through various aisles, causeways and paths that have already been plotted in the virtual map as co-ordinates.
  • Once the user has reached the product/service, they can decide to purchase it right there – no checkout queues!
  • The payment is made via a cashless payment system with payment card details stored on the mobile device. The iBeacon generates the payment receipt on the device which can be shown to the security guard or authority to exit the store/outlet after all purchases have been made.

Who Manufactures these iBeacons?

  • Companies like Estimote make such BLE-enabled beacons that can transmit data to any BLE-enabled device within its set range.
  • Very soon, iBeacons will arrive in the market that can make purchases and credit earning via PayPal without having to use their phone.

Is BLE and iBeacon Technology Secure?

  • Yes. Since it works on micro-location Geofencing which means it tracks a user only inside a set boundary.
  • If the user leaves the iBeacon’s coverage boundary, the tracking stops. It is only an indoor or proximity navigation device. It does not access your phone records, messages or bank information unless you authorize it to do so.

Even you can use such iBeacons for your business’s promotion and betterment. It is a low cost technology and does not require costly installation. Just fit it and forget it!

We at Mobiloitte help businesses build brand and drive in customers with iBeacon powered apps. Let’s discuss how can we help your business increase and sustain customers.