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25 beacon uses you won’t find in a store

By Jen Quinlan / March 14, 2014


25 beacon uses you won’t find in a store

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or an Estimote transmitter) since last year’s WWDC, you’re probably well aware that beacons are going to revolutionize the shopping experience. We couldn’t agree more, but we’re also a little worried that these innovative devices are getting typecasted faster than Matthew McConaughey after How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Yes, beacons are going to be HUGE for retailers, but let’s not forget their range of uses beyond salesmen:

  1. Beacons protect your personal belongings: If a connected item — like a smart TV or computer — crosses your home’s beacon threshold, you’ll receive an alert on your smartphone or tablet telling you your valuables have left the building.
  2. Beacons keep track of your bicycle: Say you ride your bike to a nearby bar, fasten your U-lock to a rack and prepare to relax. Suddenly, you receive an alert saying your bike is moving away from its spot. Thanks to beacons, you can watch as the bouncer chases down and pummels the bike thief while you sip your craft brew.
  3. Beacons would’ve been great for Romeo & Juliet: You’re a teen making out with your girlfriend on her parent’s couch. Brilliantly, you snuck a beacon into their car the other week. As the parents get within 150 feet of the house, you’re alerted of their arrival. You steal a final kiss and sneak out the back minutes before the garage door opens.
  4. Beacons prevent absentmindedness: Imagine you’re wearing a belt with built-in beacons and you accidentally leave your phone on the kitchen counter. As you move farther away from the phone, your beacon belt provides haptic feedback and the phone makes a loud beeping noise, preventing you from leaving it behind.
  5. Beacons keep annoying waiters at bay: You want to grab a bite to eat, but you don’t feel like dealing with an obnoxious server. With beacons, you can study a restaurant’s menu, pre-select what you want to eat and have your order shipped directly to the kitchen once you sit near a vacant beacon.
  6. Beacons make buses more appealing: Tired of waiting for the bus while trying to decide whether you already missed it or if it’s just running late? Good news! Your city just released a public transportation app that utilizes beacon technology, turning riders into real-time data servers that regularly update your bus’s location in real-time.
  7. Beacons help you bulk up: Exercise machines can be outfitted with beacons, giving entry-level weight lifters video tutorials on each station. Gyms will be less liable for injuries and patrons will be less likely to bruise their egos by looking foolish while trying to blast their pecs.
  8. Beacons help trainers keep tabs on their clients: From the gym trainer’s point of view, you can see if your client actually went to the gym, what they did that day, and where they seemed to get hung up.
  9. Beacons make gyms more profitable and efficient: From the gym management’s perspective, you can leverage beacon data to determine which machines are used most often and by whom, then identify high-traffic spots to uncover new revenue stream opportunities like promotions for the snack bar or exercise classes.
  10. Beacons lead people to safety: Beacons can be implemented in large buildings and homes to provide indoor mapping. If an emergency occurs, first responders can quickly find the source of the incident while occupants quickly find safe exits.
  11. Beacons go great with beer and baseball: A baseball stadium holds a promotion where the first person to enter the gates, buy popcorn, visit the mascot and stop by the scoreboard will receive a prize. You visit all spots, reach the end destination and receive a text from the ballpark saying to redeem your prize near gate 37.
  12. Beacons get kids to go outside and play: A child walks down the street with a connected baseball glove. As he walks by houses, other kids’ connected gloves start to buzz. They look out the window, see a neighborhood kid heading to the park, and go outside to play a quick pickup game until Maw rings the dinner triangle (or texts).
  13. Beacons make dreams come true: You’re at Comic-Con, you’re wearing your fanciest pair of Spock ears and you REFUSE to leave without giving Leonard Nimoy a Vulcan salute. His phone is turned into an iBeacon, regularly telling attendees his whereabouts. You check your map and see he’s right behind you. You turn, raise your hand and part your fingers. He sees you and does the same. Bucket list, check.
  14. Beacons battle blindness: People with visual impairments could obtain more information on museum exhibits by leveraging rich sounds and additional contextual information. Beacons can also help improve navigation to exhibits within the museum.
  15. Beacons revamp recess: Outfit students with beacons, and you can bear witness to the most honest and hi-tech game of freeze tag the world has ever seen. Tech-savvy teachers could also set up a pretty exciting scavenger hunt.
  16. Beacons make Barbies (and action figures) smarter: Beacons could be applied to various children’s toys to help kids connect with peers who own compatible playthings. Imagine American Girl dolls that interact with each other, causing the owners to do the same. Beacons could also make it easier to keep track of misplaced toys.
  17. Beacons keep your dog on a short leash: You realize your trusty canine is nowhere in sight. You hop back in the car and begin searching the neighborhood. Luckily, you bought him an activity-tracking collar with beacon capabilities. You use your phone to find him before the puppy paddy wagon.
  18. Beacons make vacations better: Imagine beacons paired with an app to keep track of everywhere you’ve visited within a theme park or museum district like The National Mall. The information from your app could later be merged with your photos to create a digital scrapbook of your journey.
  19. Beacons keep people on time: From employees clocking in at a manufacturing plant to teachers taking attendance at school, beacons can save some trees by replacing the dreaded time card. As a worker or pupil passes a beacon, their arrival and departure times will be retrieved.
  20. Beacons keep bosses on schedule: Need a word with your supervisor? The beacon by his or her door will tell you their daily, weekly or monthly schedule and allow you to claim an empty time slot.
  21. Beacons run regular traffic reports: Put a beacon in every streetlight or mile marker and you have the makings of the most accurate and advanced traffic monitoring system to date. Commuters looking for the fastest route home will just have to glance at their phone or dashboard.
  22. Beacons replace garage door clickers: Picture a beacon next to your garage door that asks you if you’d like it to open whenever you come near. By pressing Yes on your device, you could have your garage door open before you even buckle your seatbelt.
  23. Beacons are handy to have around the house: Homeowners and landlords can outfit homes with beacons to help tenants easily find things like the fuse box, water valves, storage unit, sprinkler system controls and cable connection. They can also replace traditional door locks.
  24. Beacons keep you cool (or warm): With beacon-equipped thermostats, you can view and adjust the temperature of individual rooms in your house without ever having to pass through the doorway. It makes for convenient indoor climate control or a great way to prank your siblings.
  25. Beacons boost your reputation: You’re a VIP at a local club. You approach the entrance, the bouncer’s phone receives an alert with your image, name and status level. He signals you past the line and into the club. Everyone looks in awe.

There you have it. Twenty-five use cases for beacons, and not one of them takes place in a boutique or department store. Much like Matthew’s McConaissance, tech bloggers and developers are starting to see that this pony has plenty of tricks up its BLE sleeve. Can you think of some inventive uses for this cutting-edge technology? Tweet us, @ThePushNews.


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