How does a beacon work
How does a beacon work

(Source : New Paper Association of America)

A beacon, which can be battery-powered or plugged into an electrical outlet, can be placed on a countertop or wall. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy, a wireless technology that exchanges data by radio transmissions.

These steps are needed for a smartphone or tablet to tap into beacon technology:

  1. A person must have a device that runs iOS 7 or later, or Android 4.3 or later.
  2. The device must have Bluetooth turned on.
  3. The device must have an app installed that recognizes beacons.
  4. A person must share her location with the app.
  5. A person must allow notifications, if the app is to send beacon-powered push messages.

An example: I have a smartphone that meets the above criteria, and I walk into a boutique. The boutique’s app on my phone picks up the beacon’s signal and sends it to an online platform. The platform tells the app to perform an action. Voila! A coupon appears on my phone, and I make a purchase. I walk out with new boots and a spring in my step.

 Beacon technology

Beacon technology makes it possible to have a variety of location-based retail messages and services, including contactless payments.

In addition to brick-and-mortar stores, airports, museums and stadiums are testing beacon technology to find out how they can enhance visitor experience.

What is iBeacon?

Apple’s iBeacon is a technology that enables iOS 7 or later devices to alert apps when a person moves toward or away from a beacon. The feature is built into devices, and it works with iPad (third generation) or later, iPad mini, iPhone 4s or later, or iPod touch (fifth generation) or later.


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