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Is the Eddystone “Beacon” the Next Step in Local Marketing?

A couple walks down the street near your restaurant. They might be planning to come in, or they might not. But suddenly their phones buzz. The man pulls his out and looks at the screen. “TODAY’S HAPPY HOUR: 2-for-1 Craft Beers. Look to your left.” They look, confer for a moment, and stroll in.

Until recently, this scene would be out of the ordinary. But thanks to a new open source “beacon” program made by Google, it could become normal very, very soon. And it opens door to all kinds of opportunities for your business.

The Eddystone Program

The technology in question is actually not new. It’s a beacon sent over a Bluetooth signal, and Apple released one two years ago—but only for Apple products. Now, Google has made one of its own, which works for both Android and iOS, and this one is open source. That means any developer can use the program to make beacon apps for any major device.

(Google calls the software “Eddystone,” after a famous lighthouse. At least it’s not another Pharos reference.)

The reference is pretty literal. To take advantage of Eddystone, a store, hotel, restaurant, or even private home installs a device that sends out a constant beacon. The beacon lets smart devices know it’s there, as soon as they get within range. They can then interact with the beacon bi-directionally. It can push notifications out to them or they can request information.

A Million and One Uses

The happy hour example is only one of countless ways this could be implemented. Possible uses of an Eddystone beacon include:

  • Finding out about sales and discounts as you walk into a store—or before you even enter.
  • Getting customized coupons on your phone.
  • Tracking loyalty and offering special rewards to repeat customers.
  • Getting relevant reminders when you go to specific places in your home or at work.
  • Guiding customers or houseguests right to your front door once they find the right block.
  • Immersive, gamified marketing campaigns that involve “discovering” beacons.

How quickly will these beacons spread? It’s hard to say. Presumably they’ll be concentrated in major cities at first, where there are more early adopters. But now that the software exists for free, we’ll probably see apps and hardware aimed at businesses. And having the first beacon in your area would certainly make you stand out.

What other uses for an Eddystone beacon can you think of? Is this something you’d consider in your company?