10-2-2014 | John Grundy (@_IOHN)
Anyone who’s been following the development of iBeacon technology will no doubt have an appreciation for the range of potential uses. You’ve no doubt read a lot about the benefits of Bluetooth LE beacons for retail and museums (if you haven’t, check out what we’re working on with Tulpenland) – but there are plenty more use cases where we see iBeacon technology having a leading role:
Control real-world actions
You approach your front door, and your house recognizes that you’re at the top step. The door unlocks and lets you in. As you enter your bedroom the lights turn on, then off again as you leave. This idea isn’t limited to your house – how about walking up to the driver’s door of your car and the seat adjusts to the way you like it or walking away from your computer and the screen automatically locks.
iBeacon technology, coupled with iOS accessibility features, could offer new possibilities for people with vision impairments. With the use of beacons users would be able to have notifications triggered on their device alerting them to the location of an accessible entrance, or details of impending environmental factors like steps or uneven surfaces, which are then read to users by the inbuilt iOS screen reader functionality.
Presenters will be able to engage with their audiences in new ways. Involving the audience into their presentation by pushing a notification to participants’ device inviting anyone with the conference app to take part in a poll, send them a link to reference material or their presentation and even saving it to their device through integration with apps like Evernote, Pocket or Delicious. Or how about sending a LinkedIn connection request, or collecting presentation feedback online (that’s right, no more handing out and collecting paper evaluation forms!).
iBeacon technology could also have a range of applications at concerts. For the concert goer, tickets could open as they approach the entrance, maps showing their location in relation to stages and facilities, a find-your-friend feature for when they get swallowed up by the mosh pit… just a few possibilities. And for the performers, engaging audience participation in their performance by triggering device screens to change color for stunning visual effects. Imagine being able to create a Coldplay style experience without the need for a Coldplay sized budget.
Finding your car in a busy car park is another commonly stated use for iBeacon technology. But this doesn’t have to stop with cars. How about a beacon on your bike (after all, LabWerk is based in Amsterdam). I’m sure you get the idea of this example, but there are many more applications where this technology could be beneficial.
Pretty much any case where you want to find something, iBeacon technology could help. Think about the chauffeur arranged to pick you up from the airport – all they have to do is put a beacon in their pocket and the company’s app on your device will show you where they are. Or how about the stops of a hop-on/hop-off tour that are never easy to find. Solution: as you come into range of the stop, and have a valid ticket stored in your Passbook, your device will let you know that you’re nearby and even direct you straight to it if you’re still having trouble finding it. As the beacons become smaller, maybe we can put one on our key ring or in our television remotes and never lose them again.
Maybe iBeacon technology can even help you find a partner – an idea we’ve been toying with in the LabWerk office. You’re sitting at a bar and you receive a notification letting you know that someone who viewed your dating profile, or fits your criteria of what you are looking for in your ‘perfect match’, is nearby. Just another idea that has real potential thanks to iBeacon technology.
The future is…
I’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible with beacons (not wanting to giving away all of LabWerk’s best kept secrets). Some of these uses may seem to be uncomfortably obtrusive at the moment, but give it time. As the technology is progressively rolled out and slowly introduced into everyday parts of our lives, we’ll look back and wonder how we managed in a pre-beacon era. How did we manage in a time where we lived two separate lives, online and offline, and didn’t have the benefits of proximity notifications or indoor navigation?
If you’ve got other ideas about how iBeacon technology can be used, we’d love to hear them – tweet them to us @LabWerkNL.