A Guide to iBeacon Hardware and Contextually Aware Platforms

By Natalie Cheng | Apr 28, 2016

According to a report by Deloitte, 37% of U.S. consumers own a trio of tablets, smartphones, and laptops. In addition, 65% of consumers own smartphones, which is an increase of 51% from 2011-2013. It’s important to note that mobile devices allow for more personalized experiences by utilizing context while traditional computing such as desktops and laptops aren’t able to provide these unique, contextually aware experiences. As more people continue shifting towards mobile devices, context will become a bigger part of technology. This shift will lead to more developments of beacon hardware (or iBeacons), context aware platforms, and contextually aware applications. As you may have already guessed, these developments are already happening with several companies jumping in. Below you will find a list of current iBeacon hardware providers and contextually aware platforms.

Estimote Beacons

According to TechCrunch, Estimote’s first prototype looked like a parrot. The device has since evolved and turned into colorful rock shaped devices called beacons. Estimote Beacons are tiny sensors that you can stick in any physical space. According to the website, an Estimote Beacon is a “small, wireless device, sometimes also called a ‘mote’.” After placing it in a room, it can broadcast radio signals to smart devices such as your phone. These beacons have a built-in Bluetooth 4.0 chip or BLE inside and can run for up to 2 years on a single battery. Since the beacon is covered with a soft silicone case housing with a sticky back side, it can be easily attached to any flat surface. Estimote Beacons can communicate with smartphones that are as far as 200 feet away and are compatible with iBeacon-enabled Apple products and applications. To see Estimote Beacons in action, you can visit the Rubens House Museum. Visitors can find out more information on different paintings and the location of different art throughout the museum with the beacons. See the video below for a demo. For now, Estimote is only focused on the retail sector and has an SDK and source code to work with your mobile app.

Apple iBeacon technology applied to classical art in Antwerp Museum from ProphetsAgency on Vimeo.

ROXIMITY

Another manufacturer of beacons is ROXIMITY, a location-based advertising platform that enables retailers and brands to send targeted, contextual messaging to nearby customers. ROXIMITY sells beacon hardware that works with Apple and Android platforms and offers a mobile marketing platform. The company has worked with some major brands including Chick-fil-A, Jimmy John’s, Jamba Juice, Ford, and Kraft Foods. Partnering up with Valpak, ROXIMITY helped deliver relevant offers and alerts to people in their cars based on location and preferences. Drivers that have Sync AppLink could use hands-free, interactive voice commands to choose a specific category (ie. restaurants, spa services, health and fitness, etc.) and receive alerts to nearby deals and specials while driving. As for the ROXIMITY platform, it includes a mobile client SDK, an online dashboard, and support services.

GeLo

GeLo is a creator of physical beacon hardware that offers specific location awareness, both indoors and outdoors. The beacons have a battery life of two years, are waterproof, and can handle all seasons and terrain including exposure to outdoor heat, humidity, and direct sunlight for years at a time. GeLo Beacons are currently available in a few different configurations: the Beacon GELO.o1 and Beacon GELO.o2. The company also offers an SDK for easy integration inside applications. Currently, the GeLo beacons and technology are implemented at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Upnext Beacon

Another company that is creating beacon hardware and working with Bluetooth Smart is Upnext. The Upnext Beacons are short range, Bluetooth Smart transmitters that can communicate with mobile devices within a 50 meter range to deliver a range of services including navigation, mobile ticketing, museum tours, and offers. Upnext developed the beacons to work with its context aware, proximity platform. Developers can use SDKs for Android or iOS to integrate with existing mobile applications. In addition, you can manage your beacon network with the Upnext administration dashboard and analyze the performance of your marketing activities.

ContextHub

ContextHub is a context awareness platform that allows developers to easily create fully context-aware applications. With just one line of code, it makes it simple to build contextual capabilities into your mobile applications. The platform works with sensors from both mobile devices and the Internet of Things to create unique and engaging experiences for users. It activates your phone’s sensors to track location, proximity, time, motion, and orientation. With the data collected, you’re able to see the results of your contextual experiences and learn how to make the experience better. If interested, developers can currently request a beta invite.

Do you have any other companies to add to the list?

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