The Super Bowl has become a super roll out for new technology.
It started 10 years ago with interactive websites during the game and continues with millions of messages on social media.
This year, there was another new tech introduced at the Big Game that could be a game changer. It’s called beaconing, and it’s poised to become a part of our lives.
Beacons are a tiny, $10 Wi-Fi transmitter that can send texts to your cellphone if you have the beacon app. Apple’s new iPhone has the app installed, and its stores use it to track customers. You have the option to turn the app off.
Android apps are in the works.
Turn it on and when you get within 20 feet from a beacon box, as at the Super Bowl, you get a welcome text and a choice of data specific to where you are. Outside a stadium, it tells you about security searches, which entrance for your ticket and seat location, plus the concession stands and restrooms with the shortest lines. It continues through the game with specials for you at the souvenir shops and advice on traffic jams and leaving the parking lots.
Downtown in Manhattan, a number of stores and restaurants installed beacons. You walk in, get the welcome text and the store’s directory or restaurant specials.
This is only the start. The apps create a profile of you, where you like to shop, what you’ve bought, where you seek entertainment. Then it guesses why you are shopping in Target or wherever and offers deals specific to you. It knows where you are by GPS.
On its face, this is the new way to advertise. It’s personal and useful, and it shows a merchant is concerned about you. It could make the shopping experience a breeze as it expands to compare prices and seek exactly what you want. These, incidentally, are the two qualities attracting shoppers to online stores. Imitating the experience could be the savior of brick-and-mortar retailers.
The applications are endless. Go skiing and receive avalanche warnings. Find surf information at your favorite beach, the least-crowded area and where to park. And on and on. There already are beacons on some highways warning of stoppages ahead, and Realtors are using them to sell houses. If you’re profiled as searching for a new car, you could drive past a dealership to learn what they have.
If you think beacons won’t happen, consider this. Anyone can afford a beacon transmitter. You could have one at your front door to “beware of the dog.”
Of course, the personal privacy lobby is having a fit over this and may attempt to block it. Beacon supporters will argue it’s not an intrusion on your privacy if you control it. Beacon apps must be turned on. Yes they track you with GPS, yes they profile your habits, yes they will make bad guesses as the technology matures. If this bugs you, don’t use it.
Page 2 of 2 - And yes, beacons probably will become a driver of our demand for more information. So you’re walking your child to school and a text arrives, “School today will open at noon due to the weather.”
It could take years for this technology to trickle down. Then again, if initial users find it compelling, it could only be closer than we think.
Reach Jim at 330-580-8324 or email@example.com. On Twitter: @jhillibishREP.