iBeacon Is About to Change Everything You Thought You Knew About Bluetooth


The dark days of Bluetooth draining your phone’s battery before lunchtime has even rolled around are almost behind us. Apple is not only working on a solution for the battery-leeching technology, but preparing to role out what is essentially an ecosystem for all your tech devices. Get ready to start hearing a lot more about iBeacon in the coming year.

Recently Wired ran an article that laid out four ways in which Apple’s iBeacon will revolutionize the way you use your phone. Yes, I know that the term “revolutionize” is one of those buzz words that gets used all too often in tech, but once you wrap your head around what iBeacon aims to do, you’ll understand why it has the potential to be so groundbreaking.

Using stand-alone iBeacons that run for up to a year on a watch battery, the beacons will transmit the physical world to your smartphone. Walk into a museum and your phone will be ready to relay additional information about the nude painting you’re staring at.

Digital content will mesh with the physical world around you.

“It’s easy to imagine other variations on the theme. Digital geocaches could let you drop animated GIFs at obscure hiding spots throughout your city. Intersections could become invisible tour stops augmented with local lore. Citi Field, home of the Mets, is already experimenting with embedded videos, dynamic hot dog coupons, and straight-to-your-seat navigation—the augmented ballpark of the future, all built on iBeacon.”

The technology will be able to pinpoint your location up to 100 meters, whether indoors or out, cutting down on the number of beacons needed for a certain locale.

You might finally be able to forget about constantly typing in passwords.

Another trait the iBeacon should allow for is a seamless transferring of data between all your devices. Apple is already using its current Bluetooth to eliminate the process of typing a Wi-Fi password to Apple TV’s remote. Tap your iPhone to the TV itself and viola! All your data is ready to go. As cool as that is, it’s really only the beginning of what Apple has in mind with TouchID.

“Imagine this: You sit down at any computer in the world, put your thumb on your iPhone’s fingerprint reader, and instantly that computer becomes your machine. Your desktop, your settings, your files. It’s like Dropbox turned up to eleven. It’s also something for which Apple holds a patent.”

Yes, it will have an impact on your shopping experience.

Macy’s department store has already installed the iBeacons in its flagship New York City location, making specialized offers to customers once they enter the store. Not every retailer has the technology budget of Macy’s, though. Smaller shops won’t be left out in the cold, $100 beacons will allow even the smallest of stores to jump into the smartphone shopping pool, too.


One of the key things iBeacon promises to offer in its retail experience is easy payment of course.

“Paypal’s already showing off its own “Beacon,” a USB device that will interface with the Paypal app to let users make totally hands-free transactions. The problem of digital wallets is a tricky one, but the technology is finally starting to make sense. Three years ago, the future of digital wallets rested entirely with NFC. Today it seems like Bluetooth is the one poised to finally bring mobile payments to the mainstream.”

Be prepared to be bombarded with offers once this hits the mainstream.

Peer-to-peer gadget communication is coming.

GPS friendly apps are nothing new on phones, but while Google Maps is helpful, it kills battery life incredibly too quickly. iBeacon will give your applications a new way to orient themselves, thus saving you from having to constantly juice up. With every new iPhone and many Androids having the capability to function as iBeacons will open up a new world of gadget-to-gadget possibilities.

“Imagine a hook-up app like Tinder for the bar you’re in, with Bluetooth facilitating the flirting before you even say hello.”

Okay, I never said it was all going to be stuff you wanted.

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