Who said iBeacons were just a fad? [retail bytes] takes a look at their latest (and greatest) uses. Pizza, anyone?
Cut the cheese Pizza Hut has gone high tech in China. They’ll send you an offer for 15% off your favourite suckling pig pizza topping to your smartphone via their local app, just as you’re strolling around Quanmen Street in Bejing trying to find a decent watering hole. 1,400 restaurants are now kitted out with Estimote beacons, which send offer alerts, discounted cinema tickets and competition notifications while you’re in the vicinity. Pizza Hut is using iBeacon’s proximity protocol from Apple and Sensoro’s distribution platform. This “smart” restaurant is making its way through pilots and so far is only used for vouchers notifications, but one can only hope the network will get used for diet advice as all this cheese can’t be good for you…
Beacons at dawn Twenty minutes is the average passenger’s black cab journey in London – just enough to catch up with your Facebook and Twitter feed! Since you’re looking at the phone anyway, the cunning cabbies are plotting to make a buck or two by installing a beacon in the cab, then letting retailers send you a notification with a voucher while you’re passing their shops. The fight between black cabs and Uber is moving to beacon territory, as 400 taxis will be equipped by Proxama with the Estimote hardware interacting with your phone using their own proximity platform. Uber will follow shortly as they have an app already, so the fight between the two is heating up following a 25% rise in the registration of new Uber drivers!
Coke goes for broke Not to be outdone by London cabbies, Coke has partnered up with Norwegian cinema owners Capa and publisher VG to roll out proximity beacons in 110 cinemas, getting ready for messaging during the Xmas peak. Coke is taking a chance to see if anyone cares for their free drinks offers, while the cinema owners are offering additional content from the movie distributors. Desperate Coke has a lot of work to do after the PR disaster of the infamous 40-grams-of-sugar found in each Coke can story – setting up the beacon networks in Norway may buy back some love from the millennials.
Hong Kong love We are most anxious during travel and the height of info-famine is experienced by people at airports. So, Hong Kong International Airport is putting their arms around stressed passengers by installing a beacon-based information service that should make life easier for their jetlagged long-haul travellers. Instead of shuffling between your Costa Coffee and the flight notification board, inevitably located at the wrong end of the airport, you can relax in a nice coffee spot and receive directions, walk times to gates from your spot, lounge directions and, crucially, boarding alerts. You’ll still need to download an app, either for the airport or for your airline, but this looks like a small price to pay for luxury of peace of mind. Knowing where the passenger is allows the beacon to be hyper-precise and calculate times and distances specific to the location. This is all thanks to the SITA Labs initiative of rolling out beacons at airports worldwide. Bliss.
Beacon babel Museum audio tours are all part of the art-lover experience today, but in 1952 the first audio tour of the Dutch Stedelijk Museum, invented by curator Willem Sandberg, was a revelation. Suddenly it freed the visitors from having to be glued to their human guide and, most importantly, provided a multi-lingual audio guide for foreign tourists in a proto-Google Translate experience of being able to transcend the limitations of one’s own linguistic incompetence.