In the Channel, 15 kilometers south of the English coastal town of Plymouth, a rock formation stands low above the sea. These are the Eddystone Rocks. On top of these rocks is the Eddystone lighthouse. Since time immemorial, this has been an important beacon for shipping.
Two weeks ago, Google surprised the world with its own beacon: a completely new, open-source Bluetooth beacon format with the appropriate name Eddystone. Google’s Eddystone makes integrating Bluetooth beacons child’s play.
The use of Bluetooth beacons is no longer real news. Apple launched its iBeacon system in 2013. Since then, the use of this type of Bluetooth-based beacons has increased considerably. Department stores, supermarkets, airlines, museums, football stadiums, and amusement parks use this technology in their mobile apps to offer customers information, offers or navigation assistance. For a long time this was the site of Apple and remained – almost deafening – silent on the part of Google, yet a major player in location services.
It seems that Google has taken the time to study the operation and use of these beacons. The introduction of Eddystone makes Google the most important player in the field of beacon technology. The use of this type of beacon is therefore much simpler, more elegant and moreover accessible for almost every company.
Difficult and Expensive
Before Eddystone appeared, working with Bluetooth beacons was only possible if the customer had installed the corresponding app on his cell phone. For example, the beacons in the Bijenkorf could only be used with the Bijenkorf app. And at the airport, the traveler needed the airline’s special app to take advantage of the benefits.
This was difficult because as a marketer you first have to convince the customer to install an app that he could only use later. This requires a lot of marketing power. Moreover, it is expensive, because even though the Bluetooth beacons themselves hardly cost anything, you do need to have a special app developed to actually be able to do something with your beacon collection. Good for your app developer, bad for your marketing budget. Creating, configuring and maintaining these types of apps can be quite expensive.
With Eddystone, Google immediately eliminates these disadvantages by making two technical innovations available:
Clear URL instead of complicated UUID
Google introduces an extensive communication format that allows beacons to communicate with other devices. Eddystone beacons can, among other things, broadcast a clear URL that can be understood by any internet device. This is in contrast to meaningless and complicated UUIDs that were previously used. They therefore seamlessly connect as the first-class citizens on The Physical Web and the complexity required for linking and integration is minimal.
Directly in the web browser
Secondly, Google has expanded its web browser Chrome so that it can immediately process the broadcast URLs and inform the user if there is a beacon nearby. Eddystone beacons are therefore immediately usable on all devices that Chrome runs on; Android phones, tablets, and laptops of course, but also iPhones and iPads. You no longer need a specific mobile app to do something with beacons, the web browser takes over this work. An HTML5 app can be started in Chrome via the URL. If that is even too much, you can also simply open an existing webpage of your site so that you do not need any extra app at all.
Of course, it is also possible to create much more advanced applications. The use of Eddystone in apps is simply possible. Very advanced applications are also possible because the system can integrate with Google’s Nearby, Proximity Beacon APIs and Places. In addition to localization, positioning, and attachments, also consider monitoring your beacon park. The batteries of the beacons are sooner or later really on and occasionally there may be a break, you might want to be able to see and manage that centrally.
With Eddystone, Google has launched a “game-changer” in the beacon world. It makes deploying beacons incredibly simple and efficient. It is now up to the marketers to use this technology to develop useful, useful and relevant services with added value for the customer.
And because Google has chosen to make the Eddystone format available as open-source, the rapid acceptance of the system will not be a problem. You can start using it immediately, free of charge.
As a marketing professional, you collect and work with all kinds of customer behavioral data on a daily basis. Always be aware that this is not just fictional data, but data from real people. You have the responsibility to handle this with care. So do not collect data that you do not need, do not store data for an unnecessarily long time, make sure that the data is securely stored and guarantee that data cannot be traced back to a person unless you have agreed on this directly with that person.