Friday TechMunch: Hope for Beacons

Have you heard of beacon technology? This is the tech that stores up and down the country are investing in to optimise our shopping experiences.

Your attempts to stay out of your favourite shop are futile. With the help of beacons, the mannequin in the shop window can detect you walking past and will tempt you in-store by sending a message direct to your mobile with a suggested item that matches your personal style perfectly.

Tempted? You will be. As you head inside, the beacon you just triggered will send you an exclusive offer to buy that item. And it’s not just retailers that have recognised the potential benefits of beacons; the travel industry is fast adopting them as a means of enhancing customer experience.

Travelling can be stressful experience at the best of times and that’s why it’s the perfect test pit for this technology. If it can enhance passenger services and make travel as seamless and stress-free as possible, then we’ll know it’s powerful stuff.

Have you ever found yourself at the airport security checkpoint without your boarding card and passport ready? It’s a moment that makes the experienced travellers behind you in the queue tut and grumble with disbelief as you rummage frantically through your hand luggage. Well, no more! Virgin Atlantic now delivers personalised notifications direct to your phone as a gentle reminder that you’re approaching checkpoints and it’s time to get prepared. As you make your way through the airport you can also receive notifications of commission–free currency exchange deals and duty-free offers that you might not have considered in your head-long rush to the boarding gate.

Other airlines are attempting to tackle another customer bugbear with beacon technology: lost luggage. Companies are currently fitting beacons into luggage tags as a way of tracking yours bags and preventing that most inconvenient of losses. Gone are the days of waiting anxiously for your bags to appear – you’ll be notified as soon as your checked luggage is taken off the plane and the second it enters the baggage reclaim. If that’s not enough, the airport’s logistical team will be instantly notified if your baggage falls off one of their sorting belts or baggage carts. So now you can now start your holiday as you mean to go on – relaxed – in total confidence that you know where your belongings are at all times.

Although many deployments are still in the trial stage, predictions indicate that adoption of beacons is set to grow and quickly. Gartner identified ‘high-precision location sensing’ as one of its top mobile trends that businesses need to master by 2016  saying: “Precise indoor location sensing, combined with mobile apps, will enable a new generation of extremely personalised services and information.”

So the next time you walk past a shop window and get a tempting message from the store, you’ll know that beacons are behind it.