AMITIAE - Wednesday 5 March 2014
The iBeacon and Mobile Devices - Coming Soon to a Store Near You - Bangkok Post, Life
By Graham K. Rogers
This is a little like a sledgehammer as the reminder jumps onto the screen a couple of kilometers before the taxi arrives at the door. What I need is something more location-specific.
Examples that are now operational include Apple's Stores in America as well as some Safeway and Giant Eagle stores there. Another interesting example is the installation by Major League Baseball (MLB) at Citi Field in New York.
As a way to examine the technology, I recently took delivery of a developer pack of iBeacons from Estimote. Including delivery, the three beacons cost me $111 (plus a small Customs charge). There is an app on the iTunes App Store, so I was able to show interested colleagues and students how the devices work.
We did cut one of the units open (it still works) to have a look at the circuitry inside and specifically the battery which it is claimed will work for up to 2 years. I did check with Estimote on this and they are quite confident that the unit will not draw much power and the 2 years is not over-ambitious. Compared with the other components, the Panasonic lithium battery was large. My description and some links are available in the information I wrote then.
Some of the shopping centres here already have their own apps, so using the API (coding that specifies how software components work), it would be feasible for their customers to be made aware of offers and other information once the iBeacons were installed.
I looked at three apps for this purpose: Central Group, The Mall Group and Siamism. All must do better. While Central and The Mall have similar store and location setups, both with department stores and independent retail outlets within the centres themselves, Siamism is more a collection of independents that rent space within Siam Center and Siam Discovery.
I am also interested in development of an app that would use the technology within the Faculty I work at: departments and officers could put out information relevant to students or events. A colleague also imagined an installation in a hospital, directed either at medical staff or at patients (or both) so that arriving near to a department (say orthopedics) patients could be updated as to waiting times, or doctors could be given information about changes.
It is however the retail installation of the iBeacon technology, which works on certain Android phones as well, that could give stores and their customers the best results with the seamless integration of this technology for smartphone users.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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