I think you’ll be hearing a lot about ‘iBeacons‘ in 2014. It’s a technology Apple introduced back in June, and is now rolling out in Apple stores across the country. Far from being an Apple-store-only feature though, there’s the potential for just about anyone to implement iBeacons in their own facility.
iBeacons are really just a way for devices to communicate using low power bluetooth signals. When you’re within range of an iBeacon, software on your iPhone will automatically recognize that and can perform an action. For example, let’s say you’re at a museum and approach a painting. Your phone can recognize that you’re now close to that painting and automatically display more information about it. A car dealer could place iBeacons in each car in the showroom, to display more information, videos even, on the shoppers’ phones. A restaurant could use an iBeacon at the entrances to inform you of the day’s specials. There are so many potential applications that the real challenge will be managing what could become information overload in urban settings!
So that’s how static or fixed iBeacons could work. What’s interesting is that Apple has put in place the hardware and software to enable most of their iPhones and iPads for the past couple years to act as iBeacons themselves. I’m not quite sure where that’ll lead, but adding this sort of intelligence to iPhones, iPads, AppleTVs, and an iWatch starts to get really exciting.
Wired magazine has more on this subject and it’s worth reading if this interests you.