Holy cow! We have another buzzword to remember. If you have not heard of beacon technology, rest assured because you most definitely will in the very near future. Think of it like this, your phone will get information based on your location and what is in proximity to your location. Wikipedia’s description contains Apple’s trademarked version called iBeacon.
[iBeacon is the trademark for an indoor proximity system that Apple Inc. calls "a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence." The technology enables a smart phone or other device to perform actions when in close proximity to an iBeacon.
One application is to help smart phones determine their precise position or context. With the help of an iBeacon, a smartphone's software can pinpoint its own location in a store. iBeacons can help a phone show notifications of items nearby that are on sale, and it can enable payments at the point of sale (POS) where customers don’t need to remove their wallets or cards to make payments.]
Companies now sell small wireless sensors that you can attach to any location or object. They broadcast tiny radio signals which your smartphone can receive and interpret, unlocking micro-location and contextual awareness. Apps on your smartphone are able to understand their proximity to nearby locations and objects, recognizing their type, ownership, approximate location, temperature and motion. They use this data to build a new generation of magical mobile apps that connect the real world to your smart device.
Now that you know what it is, we can certainly imagine the possibilities in the workplace. Imagine safety beacons in a manufacturing facility to remind workers to be extra vigilant because of previous injuries. The beacon will communicate with an employee’s smart phone and remind them that they were injured in this particular area in the past.
According to Ben Wagenaar at Heathrow Airport, “Within airports, you could expect the initial growth of beacon application development to be airline-led programs, with the main focus around using them to simplify and improve the passenger experience with check-in and boarding. Virgin Atlantic has carried out tests at Heathrow using beacons to trigger the boarding pass to appear on the device automatically. “
Imagine a bank using beacons to communicate with employees about customer service. The beacon recognizes the customer and tells them happy birthday or even reminds them that they are eligible for other services. This would be built into the mobile banking app most people already use today.
Hospitals can use beacons to communicate vital patient information to doctors and nurses as they make rounds and interact with patients. With beacon technology, applications will be developed to assist healthcare professionals in performing routine tasks such as prescribing and delivering medications to patients.
Companies can utilize quality beacons to remind workers when a quality defect is likely. For example, if an employee has made an error in the past, the beacon can remind them of the proper methodology (in a friendly way) as they approach a given work area. The possibilities are almost limitless.
The challenge will be confronting the paradigms of the past. Many company leaders still resist the use of technology in the workplace as a distraction. This resistance is in vein as we will soon enter the “wearable” computing era. Computers will become a part of each of us and forward-thinking companies will take advantage of the opportunity to communicate with employees via whatever technology that is available. The millennial executives of the future will embrace the technology as a necessary method for communication in the workplace.
Beacon technology is here to stay. Modern phones are adapting for this technology and the technology-minded organizations are embracing the possibilities. By the year 2020, most people will be using beacon technology many times each day while performing routine tasks such as pumping gas, going to the dentist, or dining out with friends.