Beacons and Proximity Marketing
On this page, we’ll present some general information about Beacons, and provide some useful links for more information, including information from several beacon vendors.   Finally, in the last section we will report recent news affecting the community of beacon users.


General Information 

What are Beacons?  What is a Nearby Notification?

Bluetooth Beacons are an innovative way for companies to expose their products to nearby customers, broadcasting messages to cause them to make or change buying decisions.  With low-power “BLE” (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons recently becoming very inexpensive, it’s now practical to locate beacons near each point of purchase.  For example, in a department store, this might mean beacons in each department, broadcasting information about items that may be of interest.   In an airport, a beacon could be located at each departure gate, and provide opportunities to purchase upgrades or access to better seats just before departure.

BLE Beacons are compact, battery powered, transmitters that broadcast a small nugget of information to nearby mobile devices like phones.  This information may simply contain a URL link, or it might contain a packet of information about a product or service.  Beacons have a limited range, typically up to about 30 meters or so, although most are set to broadcast at a less-than-maximum power level so the batteries will last longer.

Leaving aside for the moment the built-in capabilities of the Chrome browser, a mobile phone has two main methods of detecting and presenting information picked up from a nearby beacon:

(1) If the mobile device already has a background application running from the vendor, that application can be programmed to watch for beacons nearby and react accordingly.  An airline application would be a good example of this method
(2) If it’s unlikely that a customer would be running the vendor’s app, for example for beacons in a department store, an unsolicited message can presented on the screen in many cases.  (Google calls these “Nearby” notifications)  Please contact Sequoia for more information on how to set this up, and the limitations

Getting Started - Useful Links
Here are some links to provide general information and allow one to get started.  The Apple links apply primarily to iBeacons, and the Google links mostly to the Android implementation, however Google’s Chrome can run on either platform and provide beacon functionality.  Most physical Beacons can signal both Apple and Android devices, which are usually set up separately in the beacon.

Apple General Information
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202880
Google – Intro to the Physical Web
https://google.github.io/physical-web/
A few beacon manufacturers (there are more than a dozen):
US    https://www.radiusnetworks.com/#beacons
Europe:    https://kontakt.io/
From Radius, how to configure:
https://radiusnetworks.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/205022884-How-do-I-configure-Eddystone-Developer-Kit-beacons-
From Kontakt.io, iBeacon vs Eddystone:
https://kontakt.io/beacon-basics/ibeacon-and-eddystone/
From Radius: About Nearby Notifications:
http://developer.radiusnetworks.com/2016/06/09/nearby-notifications.html




News and Updates

17 Jan 2017 2017 Beacon Technology Forecast blog from Kontakt.io:
https://kontakt.io/blog/beacons-2017-forecast-7-experts-share-their-thoughts
16 Nov 2016 Google rolls out latest version of Play Services, re-enabling Nearby Notifications.  Some functionality appears to be missing however, notably notifications not being presented on the Android lock screen.
5 Oct 2016 Google deactivates Nearby Notifications to repair a discovered bug.  As a workaround, The Physical Web is automatically enabled in Chrome.