Sure, we know beacon technology and contactless payments is changing retail, but the digital customer experience means more than pestering you to shop, there are some incredibly thought-provoking implications in the world’s of visitor attractions, personal health and more – and that’s why there’s iPads in Gracelands...
Step on my Bluetooth shoes
Visitors to Elvis Presley's former home are provided with an iPad that works with beacons placed around the mansion to help them explore the place. When visitors bring their iPads to defined areas around the former King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s residence, the system provides lots more information about the place.
“The iPads employ state-of-the-art iBeacon technology to trigger location based content enabling guests to dive deeper into the story of Elvis’ life through audio, video and photos from the Graceland Archives, much of which has rarely been seen,” Graceland says.
Walk the line
In another implementation, app developer Carrot has created a calorie counting app that uses beacons in fridges to help people lose weight. It does so by tracking your daily calorie intake and offering punishments for overeating. The app, Carrot Hunger, demands you enter each food item you consumer using a barcode or by searching the database. The beacon’s role is to remind the user to log any food they take from the fridge and sound the alarm if they’re close to the line.
“Just be warned that iBeacon reminders are smart reminders. If you’re nearing your calorie goal, CARROT will sound a warning. And if you’re already over your calorie goal, CARROT will blare out an alarm along with a nasty rebuke,” the developer states.
Cancer Research UK has installed contactless technology in four of its shop windows, enabling passers by to make a £2 donation to the charity just by tapping their card against the window. The system works with an interactive screen to show people the difference their contribution makes.
“This contactless window display is an important step towards offering brands a contactless payment solution away from the point of sale and works brilliantly with the ‘tap donation’, enabling Cancer Research UK scientists to continue their vital research,” said Clear Channel’s Neil Chapman.
A beacon-based traffic monitoring and management system is being deployed across Santiago, Chile. More than 17 beacons have been placed at various points along the city’s motorways to gather information such as speed or traffic volume. The system identifies any Bluetooth-enabled device in the car and uses its unique identifier to track the speed with which the vehicle reaches the next sensor.
The findings are made available online while an automated Twitter account keeps drivers aware of average speeds on different routes around the capital.
In the city
In a move I imagine will be emulated by every map provider and made available on platforms other than Windows phone, Cities Unlocked is an interesting take on beacon technology. Developed with the Guide Dogs charity the solution talks blind and partially sighted people through their journey. To achieve this it uses location and navigation data and a network of beacons situated in urban locations to capture and describe routes to people.
"People living with sight loss face a multitude of challenges every day that can prevent them from getting where they want to be in life," explained Guide Dogs’, Jenny Cook.
The impact of beacon and contactless technologies has implications way beyond retail – there’s opportunities to deploy them in a multitude of situations with the potential to augment and improve human experience. Apple Pay, iBeacons, iOS 8 and more all leave the doors open (speculation alert) for an IBM/Apple-developed iOS CityKit framework to support development of the cities of tomorrow’s world.
Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?
Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me