December 6, 2013

Apple Launches iBeacon Tracking Program in 254 US Stores

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Apple announced that their iBeacon tracking program will take effect across all 254 of their US stores today, according to VentureBeat. The technology relies on low-power Bluetooth signals to track customer’s locations inside the store via their smartphones. iBeacon can then send out personalized messages (such as current phone upgrade eligibility), or ask if they’d like to speak to a salesperson.We previously reported on Macy’s use of iBeacon in their New York and San Francisco stores, but Apple’s program marks the technology’s first wide-scale implementation. When a customer enters an Apple store – provided they have an iPhone 4S or later – they’ll receive a notification asking if Apple can track their location through the Apple Store app, and send them push-notifications.

Apple is by far the largest company to make location tracking a standard store feature, and their decision may pave the way for other companies and department stores to adopt it. iBeacon works using small bluetooth transmitters to detect nearby phones presence and locations. The technology works not only with Apple devices, but with Android 4.3 devices as well, which should help with adoption of the standard.

Besides in-store tracking, there a host of other possible uses for such technology. Corporations, for instance, could use iBeacon to monitor employees, or even replace standard ID badges. While consumers may be hesitant about having their locations monitored to such a close degree, the convenience of such tech may end up overriding that concern.

photo credit: Zolk via photopin cc