Last week, CapTech hosted an hour-long webinar entitled, "iBeacon Demystified." With this event, we intended to help our clients and partners see through the hype baked into much of the reporting around Apple's newest location-based service. We see the potential and the promise in the technology too, but we have no illusions about what's needed to deliver meaningful user experiences with iBeacon.

As Principal Vinnie Schoenfelder noted during the session, "Without having some sophistication on the backend — with your CRM, your e-commerce, your content management — without those things being able to talk to each other in a mature, scalable way, then those front-end things that seem easy to do won't be achievable."

During our presentation, we discussed iBeacon's role alongside peer technologies, the differences in OS-level support between iOS and Android, four different customer scenarios (both front and backstage), and some points to consider when thinking about implementing iBeacon. Even moving quickly, one hour is not enough time to dive into any of the topics or questions we raised in great detail, so check back for future blog posts, webinars, and events about beacon technology and the customer experience. Follow us at @CapTechListens or #CTViBeacon, and we will be sure to tweet about our ongoing iBeacon R&D. A link to a PDF of the presentation is available at the bottom of this post, but below are some highlights (also, you can view the full video on YouTube).

iBeacon and its relationship to other location-based services (4:56-6:58)
"Although beacon technology is relatively new, it's fitting in with a bunch of peer technologies that have been in existence for quite some time."

Differences between beacon implementations in iOS and Android (11:36-14:50)
"Basically in Android, the API is more primitive, but more flexible."

How iBeacon and GPS compare, in terms of providing contextual meaning (17:55-19:56)
"Any location service is just providing where you are at, and there are other services, other information systems that provide contextual data that add value to where you are."

Customer Scenarios

  • Retail 22:00-27:37
  • Transit 29:19-33:15
  • Healthcare 33:20-35:25
  • Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) 35:26-38:08

Broadening the context of the user experience (29:40-30:15)
"If you design software, or if you are a customer experience or user experience designer, and you think about the windows that you are currently concerned with — desktop, phones, tablets, or TV monitors — all of a sudden, your palette has expanded to include the environment these displays live in."

On the proliferation of iBeacon vs. NFC and RFID (40:52 - 43:30)
"Simply put, Apple included iBeacon technology in iOS 7. The adoption rate's at 85%, and it's a simple technology, from a hardware perspective, so most people who have iPhones already have this technology."

Managing beacons in the field (48:42-49:47)
"We recommend…that when you define the UUID and the major/minor numbers that the beacon is broadcasting, you do not place any value in those numbers. If you need to maintain those beacons and swap them out, you don't want to be reprogramming beacons."

Who will educate customers in how to use this technology? (50:00-51:40)
"First of all, make sure that you've designed a truly meaningful and valuable system from the customer's perspective, not just yours. And then you need to sell that to the customer."