Whats the best micro-location technology? We compare: ibeacon, ble, nfc, qr and gps

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The gap between online and offline interaction is closing with the use of micro-location services. So what’s the best micro-location technology? We compare: iBeacon, BLE, Bluetooth, NFC, QR, Wi-Fi and GPS for use in micro-location and proximity engagement scenarios for retail, entertainment and destination marketing.

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Whats the best micro-location technology? We compare: ibeacon, ble, nfc, qr and gps

  1. 1. What’s the best micro-location technology? We compare: iBeacon, BLE, Bluetooth, NFC, QR, Wi-Fi and GPS. pete.williams@localz.co © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  2. 2. The gap between online and offline interaction is closing with the use of micro-location services. © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  3. 3. 🌎 Traditional smartphone location services are accurate to +/- 30 meters New smartphone services provide accuracy under 1 meter That’s micro-location © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  4. 4. iBeacon Apple’s take on Bluetooth Low Energy. Thanks to protocol hackers, the standard is now supported on select Android devices. Although iBeacon works on top of and has all the capabilities of BLE, the standard provides additional features that make it more attractive for use in proximity sensitive smartphone apps. Advantages: •  frictionless experience – the technology is intuitive, fast and simple •  native OS integration – special libraries make for more robust application integration •  the wow factor – one of the few technologies that has consumers saying “that’s cool” Disadvantages: •  iOS centric – premium experience for iOS, limited on other platforms •  requires an app – consumer must install a smartphone app •  active powered – beacons must be actively powered by a battery or a/c © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  5. 5. Bluetooth: Smart / Low Energy v4.0 / BLE The new version of Bluetooth that allows for proximity sensing and alerting. Supported by a range of smartphone platforms including: iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Unlike the older Bluetooth standard, BLE is ultra low power meaning the service can be left enabled at all times with little impact to smartphone battery consumption. Advantages: •  multiple use cases – flexible enough to support promotion, payment and tracking events •  position triangulation – supports highly accurate position tracking – less than 1 meter •  widespread standard – supported on most smartphones Disadvantages: •  requires an app – consumer must install a smartphone app •  active powered – beacons must be actively powered by a battery or a/c •  consumer awareness – the technology is relatively new and not widely known © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  6. 6. Bluetooth v1-2 A version of Bluetooth that has been around since the 90’s and primary used for pairing mobile phone accessories. This older technology was also used (in limited use cases) for providing information and coupons in smart posters. One of the more popular uses was providing movie trailers at cinemas via Bluetooth enabled movie posters. Advantages: •  widespread standard – supported on most phones, including older feature phones •  established – the first technology for proximity push advertising and marketing Disadvantages: •  poor customer experience – consumer needed to pair with posters, a complex process •  power drain – the older standard is a drain on phone batteries •  unreliable - the pairing technology often failed with multiple users in area © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  7. 7. QR (Quick Response) codes QR codes have been with us since the mid 90’s. Originally designed for industrial use, QR made it’s way into consumer use a decade ago. Unlike traditional barcodes, QR codes can be quickly read when scanned from any direction and work with smartphones and older feature phones. Whilst many have pronounced the death of QR, reports from US marketers indicated a rise in scan use by 38% year over year between 2012 and 2013. Granted, this rise was observed in traditional print media such as magazine advertisements. Advantages: •  low cost of deployment – same as traditional printing costs •  greatest potential service base – they work with nearly any phone with a camera •  well recognised – studies indicate that consumers are receptive to QR in the right context Disadvantages: •  high friction experience – customers have to take out their smartphone, launch a scanning application, then scan a code which takes them to an offer or landing page •  low information density – QR holds a limited amount of information •  an eye sore – in retail use, the codes are bit of an eye sore that take up valuable advertising space © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  8. 8. Near Field Communication (NFC) NFC is (relatively) big in Japan. The technology has been built into phones since the early 2000’s and can be use for transit ticketing, vending machine purchases and small goods purchases. NFC is built into most premium Android and Windows mobile phones but is not currently supported by Apple in iOS devices. NFC tags can be used to automatically trigger events like: direction to web sites, and content, providing contact information like telephone numbers. Advantages: •  low friction experience – users only need to tap a tag •  lower cost of deployment – typically $0.10 each in bulk •  widespread use in payments – nearly 60% of qualified transactions are via NFC in Australia Disadvantages: •  lack of iOS support – iOS has over a 40% phone share in Australia •  security issues – hackers have used rogue NFC stickers to compromise phones in mass •  short range – no ability to triangulate position or interact beyond 5cm © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  9. 9. Wi-Fi (802.11) Through specialised software, it’s possible to use Wi-Fi as a micro-location service. Accuracy will vary depending on Wi-Fi base station configuration. The technology can work as a standalone location service or used in conjunction with GPS for increased location accuracy. Advantages: •  common standard – most consumers have Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and mapping services can leverage Wi-Fi data for more-precise tracking •  existing infrastructure – many facilities have public Wi-Fi installed •  passive detection – users do not require a native application Disadvantages: •  power hungry – Wi-Fi consumes smartphone power and base stations require a/c power •  complex fit-out – for micro-location use, multiple base stations are needed, each requiring power and ethernet wiring - expensive electrician services •  accuracy – accuracy beyond 1 meter is an even more complex installation, limiting potential use cases © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  10. 10. Global Positioning Service (GPS) GPS powers the majority of location experiences on smartphones. Nearly every smartphone includes GPS functionality, though its use indoors is tempered due to poor signal reception. Location precision and accuracy can be augmented by other micro-location technology such as Wi-Fi and BLE. Advantages: •  widespread standard – supported on most smartphones •  lowest cost – cost is limited to defining geographic bounds •  highly integrated – the technology can easily be integrated to web and native smartphone apps Disadvantages: •  lacks precision and accuracy – unable to uses cases that require reliable resolution under 10 meters •  Does not work well indoors – GPS requires line of sight to the sky •  power hungry – GPS consumes significant power, forcing most users to disable the service by default © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd
  11. 11. So which is the best? We propose that no one technology trumps all others. The best is what works for the customer – simple, frictionless yet ubiquitous. An effective micro-location strategy will require a combination of these complimentary technologies. See more at www.localz.co/blog Or email: pete.williams at localz dot co © 2014 Localz Pty Ltd

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