What Are Beacons and How They Work With Your Smartphone


Thu, Nov 6th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

TechCrunch looks at the Levi’s Stadium app which works together with beacons, low-energy Bluetooth devices, in order to provide stadium-goers the ability to "quickly and accurately" find "concessions, restrooms, and seats," no matter where in the stadium they may be.

[...] beacons can also trigger specific content or experiences on the user’s device too. For example, when you walk in to one beacon’s zone, you might receive one kind of push message. If you walk into another zone, you might receive a different message. This differing content can be specific to each beacon’s individual location, enabling custom content in different areas of the building you are in.

This is why retailers are so jazzed about beacons. These little devices may be able to help reinvent retail experiences and their associated value even as more and more people flock to online retailers for cheaper, easier access to merchandise. [...]

Meanwhile, Nick Farina, who is one of the co-founders of Meridian (who make beacons), has this to say:

When your iPhone is listening for beacons, it’s simply tuning in to that advertising channel. While it’s listening, it is completely silent, meaning that nothing about your presence is revealed to anyone, including other nearby smartphones, listening devices, and the beacons themselves.

That’s at the hardware level. At the software level, it’s up to your apps to behave like good citizens. Just as apps can attempt to share your location data as determined by GPS, so too can they attempt to share data about what beacons they see. Fortunately, apps have to request permission to get your location (which includes seeing beacons) in the first place, and if you don’t like what they’re doing, you can switch off those permissions or just delete the app entirely.



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