Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Rolling Out iBeacon in US Apple Stores

Barbara Ortutay, of the Associated Press:

The implications of iBeacon go beyond Apple stores. One day, commuters might get information on subway delays as they stand on the platform, while museum visitors might get details on the painting they are standing in front of. Other retailers will be also able to offer deals or track which aisles shoppers linger in the longest.

There are huge implications beyond retail. What Apple is rolling out right now is only scratching the surface, and is probably the least interesting (at least, to me) implementation of iBeacon. If this takes off, transit authorities won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars per bus stop to install LED displays, for instance. For smaller cities, that’s not a big deal; in Calgary, we have 5,874 bus stops, which could potentially mean a large cost savings.

Or consider some of the things which NFC is used for today which could be migrated to iBeacon. The possibilities are more open and adaptable because the technology doesn’t require hardware beyond Bluetooth 4.0, which has been seen in most major smartphones since about 2011. NFC, on the other hand, has seen a poor adoption rate, even though it was rolled out sooner.

This is a much smarter way of creating augmented reality. Instead of holding your phone up and using its camera-and-display combo as a sort of augmented window into the world, iBeacons allow for similar functionality in a much subtler way. My biggest question is whether this technology will be easier for Muggles1 to understand and use.


  1. You know, people who don’t read Daring Fireball, TechMeme, or yours truly. ↩︎