When there is a bunch of location-based technologies in the market, including WiFi, GPS, and the new star Beacon, people start being confused on selecting the one “best-suits” their business and services. Everyone is questioning the definition of the best approach of using technology. Industries like dining, large scale entertainment and hotel are trying to utilize those relatively well-known location technologies. We can simply compare different features of these and choose the one suits individual’s needs and capability most.
We will discuss the three popular locate technologies in seven important technology usage criteria.
Then, Why Beacon?
From the above comparisons, we can see that Beacon technology does not rank on the top compared with its competitors, however, there is something missing in our previous discussion. The biggest competitive advantage of Beacon is actually its high reliability as it allows offline usage.
Famous Chinese IT pioneer Alibaba has introduced the idea of AliBeacon offline payment method, which can integrate with its existing Alipay by eliminating the QR code scanning and online payment process. This clearly facilitates the paying procedures as the retails no longer need to pay extra attention for ensuring the WiFi connection quality in the stores. Customers can pay offline by their mobile devices in a network-free environment. To enhance the security of existing payment system, Alibaba has closed the online transaction channel and officially launched AliBeacon in Alipay. Although the Beacon technology is still growing in the current moment, we can forecast that it will shine over the entire business trading pattern when time passes.
Instead of changing the payment pattern, Beacon can also engage in public service sector. The Hong Kong bus service provider KMB is currently using the “Estimated time of Arrival” (ETA) to measure and report the arrival time of buses in APP instantly. However the delay and inaccuracy problems reported have beaten the trust of APP users. It is not surprising to hear complains as the ETA heavily relies on GPS, which takes time to receive signals from multiple satellites and be easily blocked by tall buildings around. Meanwhile, some service providers like London Countdown system have solved the problems by replacing GPS by Beacon. Beacon enhances the accuracy as signal blocks are minimized by the tiny Beacon setup all around the city. Therefore, we can see how Beacon brings benefits to citizens not only in the retail sectors.
So What is Next?
It is obvious that Beacon is enlarging its market share in different sectors. As “Beacon” itself is just a general technology without any standard, different IT developers have stepped into this new technology and build up their own usage standards, including APPLE INC. and Google. Compare to the iBeacon we have discussed for long, Google’s UriBeacon is even more user-friendly as it allows direct signal transmission without pre-installation of mobile APP. When the existing usage broader of Beacon is eliminating, we believe that it is no longer an irrational fantasy to see Beacon leads the market very soon.