Wearable Tech and iBeacon

I'm not really a fashion type but I like the technology even more. These days a lot of technical inventions are done, but are they just a Technology Push or are they really valuable applications to survive the Hype Cycle?

Before I went to this second FachTech conference, I downloaded an app on my iPhone which was specially made for this event: Beacon Hunt. With iBeacon you had to find three components of a cocktail: the booze, the ice and the juice. On your screen you could see how close you were to these items and within one meter or so, you collected this item. After finding those three things I made a selfie and my price, this cocktail, was brought to me. This Treasure Hunt idea was a nice and accessible way to get connected with this technique.

Red Ant about iBeacon

A very interesting company was Red Ant, who is specialised in the technical part iBeacons works and they're making apps, but also how to make it valuable to shopping for the shopper as for the retailer. Alex from Red Ant explained how the iBeacon hardware works: it's small, cheap and dumb. It works with Bluetooth and the battery last for two years. After those two years, you can throw the iBeacon away and install a new one on the same spot you were using it for.

Basically, the iBeacon is a GPS for indoors. This makes it very suitable for in shops, to get the customer to the right spot and give the retailer more information about the shopping behaviour of the customer. The iBeacon can be used for locations, identification and payments. With a precise distance of almost two inches, you can track where people are and what route they are walking.

A lot of possibilities (for the retailer)

The iBeacon is a passive receiver with Bluetooth LE. The thing that make it valuable is the smartphones it is connected to. There is no internet required so also offline can this connection exist. Later in the Q&A, somebody asked: Is the iBeacon only a way for the retailer to gain a lot of information about the customer who is in the store or will the iBeacon also be beneficial for the customer? A very good question and Alex answered that it's very important to keep the iBeacon invisible. Don't step up to the customer and call him by his name and let him know that he bought underpants online. Don't make it creepy! Also, don't spam the customer with a lot of commercial things.

But what about the customer?

Eventually the customer has the final word, because he has to buy products to keep the shops open. The technique of the iBeacon should be valuable for the customer, otherwise he will not be using it. For example, if you are doubting about a product to buy and the retail shop can tell by their iBeacon-data that you've been walking by already a few times. The salesman can come up to you, keep his sales pitch and offer you 10 percent discount. Also a possibility could be that you'll receive a coupon on your phone for a store nearby.

Payment

An important feature of the iBeacon is the possibility to pay in the store with your phone and walk out of the shop without waiting in a queue for the cash register. A situation like this is going to be realistic with the iBeacon in combination with Google Wallet or the PayPal Beacon. Unfortunately I couldn't find an example of a real situation where people just walk out of the restaurant when they've paid with their phones. But I know how fast all those things goes, so in a month or two it will be as normal as checking in on Foursquare.

View the FashTech website or the FashTech MeetUp page for this and other (upcomming) events.