Changing the User Experience with iBeacons

By Justine Albright | Jul 25, 2016

Context is a growing mobile trend, especially through the use of iBeacons. These inexpensive and low powered proximity sensors track user location to send push notifications. ABI Research predicts that in the next five years, iBeacons will become a 60 million unit market.

Over a 30-day period, inMarket conducted a study on retail to find that interactions with iBeacon push notifications for advertised products increased 19x and in-store app usage was 16.5x greater. Similar results have been seen across industries including retail, entertainment, dining, and more. While few companies have fully developed iBeacons into their mobile strategy, many are moving towards that direction. Here are several apps that have integrated context:

At the Ballpark

Major League Baseball has added iBeacons to 28 of its ballparks. The official MLB app, At the Ballpark, uses iBeacons to automatically check-in spectators at the park to receive exclusive offers and features. Online ticket purchases will enable the app to display ticket barcodes and information on your screen as you approach the gates. Don’t worry about struggling to locate your seats. Once your ticket is scanned, your phone will automatically display a map of the stadium to show you where your seats are. As you move through the stadium, iBeacon sensors will communicate with the app to provide location information in order to give fans information, offers, and entertainment based on where they are. Entering phase two of the MLB’s iBeacon implementation project, new features will be debuted at Target Field for this year’s All-Star Game. The ballpark has nine designated attractions where iBeacons will enable additional content and interactive features. Not only will this app make you want to keep coming back game after game, but it will reward you for doing so by giving coupons to repeat fans.

Duane Reade

This Walgreens owned pharmacy chain is among iBeacon’s newest retail supporters. In May, Duane Reade announced that it would be rolling out iBeacon technology through a new pilot program in ten of its Manhattan stores. Customers with the updated Duane Reade app will receive push notifications anytime they approach an iBeacon enabled Duane Reade store. As shoppers browse the store, the app can provide product reviews and additional information. The app tracks user’s buying habits to provide discounts and rewards based on previous purchases. iBeacons enhance the shopping experience throughout all retail stores by simplifying shopping with relevant product information and discounts.

PayPal

Another company making strides towards context is PayPal. Businesses can use a PayPal beacon to work with their POS terminal. PayPal aims to remove the friction point of manual payment for customers. Upon arrival, customers can automatically check-in at a restaurant or store. Using this hassle free method, customers can open a tab and pay for a purchase without lifting a finger. To make things even more hassle free, no signature is required as a result of hands-free payments. Although the use of PayPal Beacon is not yet available, it is expected early next year.

Concierge

ChaiOne’s own app, Concierge, makes things simpler for visitors and delivery services. Each time an employee enters or exits the office, the iBeacons sense this and update your status in the app to “in the office” or “out of the office”. By displaying an iPad in the lobby, anyone can see which employees are currently in the office. If you are in the office for a job interview, just tap on Karlee, our Director of Human Resource’s picture to send her one of our default messages or a customized message alerting her you have arrived. Karlee will then receive a push notification that she can send a message back to the job candidate. When UPS comes to deliver a package to a specific employee or department, the driver can do the same to send that person a message alerting them that they are in the lobby with a package and require a signature. Such an app makes tedious tasks simpler for both employees and visitors.

Tour de ChaiOne

Another ChaiOne creation, Tour de ChaiOne, is a wayfinder app that uses iBeacons to track exactly where someone is located in the office. Anyone that has the app installed will receive a push notification each time they are in close proximity of an iBeacon. Depending on which iBeacon is nearby, they will receive information about that part of the office. While this may seem insignificant for in office use, we are developing this concept for much greater importance such as in art galleries, museums, warehouses, and hospitals. While in an art gallery, push notifications can provide information on artists and paintings. As visitors are touring a museum, iBeacons at each artifact can send push notifications with historical information, videos, and more. Employees at warehouses and patients at hospitals can easily find their way around buildings. Simple iBeacon technology can significantly improve user experiences.

Apps using context save you time by automatically bringing you information or completing a task you would have previously had to do manually. As the market for iBeacons continues to grow, we will also see the rise of mobile platforms designed for context including Gimbal, Instasense, and ChaiOne’s ContextHub. Such platforms will make it easy for apps to learn user behavior, share data, and provide contextual experiences. Contextually aware platforms and iBeacons will continue to be integrated, making mobile context a part of normal daily life.

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