The State of the Beacosystem

When Google announced the Eddystone beacon protocol in the summer of 2015 the idea that the digital and physical worlds could be linked by broadcasting a URL from a small, inexpensive, Bluetooth low energy wireless beacon caused great excitement and launched numerous start-ups. The initial use cases were largely around retail, with large stores and shopping malls introducing discounts and loyalty programs that visitors could receive on their (Android) Smartphones.

Google was understandably obsessed with delivering passive messages, with users having to opt in to avoid spammy notifications popping up on phones just because they got close to a beacon. And this is where things got bogged down. Two years down the road those of us on the sidelines and those with skin in the game have become frustrated that the vision hasn’t arrived, particularly for those who’ve persuaded prospects to sit for demos that don’t work. Some of the early players have gone under, others have merged or sold and the use cases that are rolling out are in areas like asset tracking versus advertising.

The situation might cause one to forget that since Apple introduced the iBeacon protocol in 2013 beacons have worked perfectly well when tied to apps. And Eddystone has that ability in addition to the URL broadcast capability. Beacons work well with apps because users choose to install apps and to give them various permissions, including recognizing specific beacon broadcasts when in range. But the promise of Eddystone was “no app required”, a powerful potential yet to be realized.

What is the future for beacons? Steve Stadler thinks he knows. In June of 2013 Steve published “Beacon Technologies: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem”. Researching for the book he interviewed a host of key players and released the content in a series of videos. Today, he is S.V.P of Wiliot, a semiconductor company working to perfect batteryless beacons, drawing their energy from the radio waves that surround us virtually everywhere. In an interview with the company’s video producer, and former Cisco colleague, Steve lays out his vision for the future of the beacosystem.

  • Beacons in the Enterprise
  • Beacons Everywhere
  • Beacons in Everything
  • Beacons in Advertising
Within the first nine minutes of the interview, Steve identifies and expands upon these four predictions, the second and third born of miniaturization and currently developing batteryless hardware, a focus of Wiliot, which sponsors his podcasts. He goes on to identify what he believes is holding back speedier adoption in those areas.  Why don't I let him tell it?

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