A few of the readings for this weeks class had me thinking of a regular topic that comes up at my studio, iBeacons. We discuss how we can integrate the device into a project that we can pitch to an existing or potential client. See, I work at a design studio and many of the businesses we work with could potentially have a need for incorporating the iBeacon into their communication plan. What is an iBeacon you ask? PC Mag defines an iBeacon as:
Apple’s indoor mobile positioning system that identifies users with iPhones via a Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BLE) network. In a shopping mall or retail store, wall and ceiling-mounted iBeacon transmitters send messages to iBeacon-enabled devices and may offer users information, directions or “today’s specials.” iBeacon debuted with iOS 7, and Bluetooth 4.0 was added to the iPhone starting with the 4S.
iBeacons will be apart of the next wave of how we communicate and are communicated to, via our phones. Some of our clients where an iBeacon project would be awesome to develop are Mural Arts, Fairmount Park Conservancy and Bartram’s Garden.
Anyone that has the Mural Arts app would be pushed a message, if they were within a certain distance from a mural. The mural would need to have the iBeacon device affixed to the mural or within a certain distance. Say you’re walking down the street and all of a sudden you are pushed a notification that alerts you about a mural around the corner. And in the message a certain amount of info about the mural is also relayed, pretty cool.
Or let’s say you are walking around the city, and have downloaded the FPC app. You’ll receive a notification that mentions there is a local park just around the corner.
Ok, one more example. You’re enjoying the day at Bartram’s Garden walking around, maybe you’re having a picnic or throwing the frisbee around. You know the drill, the Bartram’s Garden app is on your phone and you receive a notification alerting you of this country’s oldest ginkgo tree (it’s true, they have the oldest ginkgo tree in America).
Only issue with all of these push notifications coming and going to your phone for whatever app you happen to have is, how much is too much? Nonprofit organizations are most likely to be late adopters to the iBeacon phenomenon.
Most likely store and brands will be the ones to hop on this wave. You’ll be walking at the mall and all of a sudden Macy’s will push you a notification that they are having a sale. Maybe you’ll pass by the food court and Starbucks will let you know that if you come by for a drink you will get 20% off.
In this article Jonny Evans discusses some of the parameters stores & brands will have to follow to have successful iBeacon campaigns. One of them is that the context that is getting beamed to you needs to be relevant to the consumer:
Context will become critical. The attempt to strengthen customer relationships will require that retailers remain relevant — simply being in the location won’t be sufficient. The beacon messages must deliver something the recipient really needs in order to avoid being seen as supermarket spam.
As we know with any new technology, there will be a learning curve for the marketing department and apologies will be readily available for all the mistakes that surely are to come. We as a society have bought into devices that make our lives “easier” so I am sure this iBeacon wave is just around the corner and will drive half of us insane.