iBeacon: A Standout Feature of iOS 7

Published on November 7, 2013

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This year alone, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) has enabled the surge of wireless applications and products in the mass market. In addition to personal health and fitness, the location awareness and asset management industries have seen significant growth.  The increasing number of products coming to market that allow you to locate, trace, or track everyday items have led to further developments in location awareness for BLE, which centers around the concept of ‘beacons’. An ABI Research press release estimates that the indoor location market will surge to over $4 billion in 2018. The debut of Apple iOS 7 in September introduced iBeacon, an innovative way to detect and monitor location. iBeacons are small, low power wireless, location awareness  sensors, using BLE as the wireless transport. Placed inside a physical space, these small beacons transmit data over short distances to iPhones using BLE. Every iOS device that supports iOS 7, can then detect other iBeacons that are nearby. Estimote  is already well placed to take advantage of this new Apple iOS feature, with an innovative approach to indoor micro location for the retail sector. Although iBeacon is a term utilized by Apple for their iOS device implementations, other BLE enabled smartphones and tablets can leverage a similar concept of BLE enabled location beacons. As well as Apple, eBay in the form of PayPal, has announced support for BLE beacons, which is forecast to see great growth in 2014 as more innovative indoor location products and applications come to market.  Although retailers are among the first to see revenue, the possibilities to leverage beacon technology are endless. iBeacons can be used to help visitors navigate a hospital, provide a personal tour of a museum, remind people where they parked their car, or even notify travelers when their flights have been delayed or canceled.  Laird’s BL600 BLE modules are well positioned to leverage this beacon concept. Keep tuned to the blog for further updates on Laird’s development efforts with smartBASIC to assist customers in prototyping and developing iBeacon applications.