Friday, April 4, 2014

Big iBeacon Developments in Q1 2014

A lot continues to development with iBeacon local positioning tech since my iBeacon articles in November and January.  Here are the highlights:
  • Apple may be considering iBeacon for use in mobile payments.
  • More retailers rolling out iBeacon trials.
  • More rumors of Apple developing mobile payment tech.
  • Starwood Hotels pilots using smartphones to unlock rooms.
  • iBeacon transmitter inside your car.
  • Major League Baseball rolling out 1,000s of iBeacons.
  • Apple is now certifying iBeacon transmitters.
  • Home Automation begins to see use of iBeacons.
  • NBA Team implements iBeacon.


Apple may be considering iBeacon for use in mobile payments

An Apple patent surfaced that implies the use of iBeacon tech in mobile payments.  Although it does not mention iBeacon by name it does list Bluetooth, which iBeacon is based on.  As well as NFC and WiFi.  

Although it was filed in September 2012, it is consistent with the development of iBeacon, which came later, and Apple executives thinking about the limitations of NFC.  So it seems likely that we will see something more in mobile payments from Apple.  Perhaps later this year.

More retailers rolling out iBeacon trials

MacRumors reports that the list of retailers testing iBeacon tech continues to grow.  Recent trials include:
“Shopkick announced it would be starting an iBeacon trial at 100 American Eagle stores.”
“InMarket would introduce iBeacons to more than 200 Safeway and Giant Eagle grocery stores in a number of markets across the country.”

More rumors of Apple developing mobile payment tech

Rumors of Apple meeting with companies to discuss mobile payments in retail stores.  With Apple’s massive installed base of devices; the iBeacon, Touch ID and Passbook tech; and the massive number of iTunes accounts soon to be closing in on a billion; Apple is very well positioned to make a giant success in mobile payments. 

There’s also rumors that PayPal has been pitching Apple on helping them to build their rumored payment system.

Starwood Hotels pilots using smartphones to unlock rooms

This report on MacRumors originating from The Wall Street Journal reports Starwood Hotels is pilot testing using Bluetooth 4.0 tech in smartphones to unlock hotel guest rooms from a Starwood app.  Although not utilizing iBeacon, it’s somewhat related, in that iBeacon also uses Bluetooth 4.0.

There are many products on the market already that are similar - locks for homes that use a smartphone app to unlock it and can be managed remotely via a smartphone or web browser.

iBeacon transmitter inside your car

Automatic, a company offering a transmitter and software that can monitor your car’s systems, has updated their software to allow existing transmitters to become iBeacon transmitters as well.

This opens the door to use the Automatic Link transmitter to empower other apps via iBeacon.  A very smart move on their part because it expands significantly what their product can do and establishes a lead for them in iBeacon tech in cars.

Major League Baseball rolling out 1,000s of iBeacons

“Major League Baseball will begin rolling out thousands of iBeacons in ballparks around the country according to a source familiar with the plans who shared them with MacRumors.”
“The league is looking to have twenty parks outfitted with roughly 100 iBeacons each by Opening Day at the end of March. Boston, Milwaukee, San Diego, LA Dodgers, and San Francisco are among the teams that will have iBeacons installed.”
“The iBeacon deployment is one of the largest rollouts in the world, aside from Apple Retail's 254-store effort. MLB will be using iBeacons sourced from Qualcomm.”

Apple is now certifying iBeacon transmitters

MacRumors reports that Apple is now certifying iBeacon transmitters under their Made For iPhone (MFi) program.  This was an inevitable and strategically important move by Apple.  It serves to strengthen the iBeacon brand and Apple’s leadership and increase the momentum of iBeacon tech.

Home Automation begins to see use of iBeacons

MacRumors and TechCrunch report on a new iOS app called Placed that uses iBeacon transmitters in the home to activate simple notifications that can launch an app, when you near a transmitter.  Although not highly useful yet, it shows the possible potential of using iBeacons in the home to enable location aware automation.

NBA Team implements iBeacon

MacRumors and BusinessWeek report on the first NBA team to implement Apple's iBeacon tech.  The Golden State Warriors are using transmitters installed in the team's home arena at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA.

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