Eddystone- The Future of Beacon Standards.
Beacons are the most trending in IoT technology applications today. Apple’s iBeacon launched in 2014 and Google’s Eddystone launched in 2015 are the two primary beacon standards used in the industry. 2015 had had around 4 million beacons being deployed globally and predictions say that the numbers are here to see a more rapid rise in the coming years. Proxbook’s Q4 2015 Report has recently predicted that the industry will witness a growth up to deployment of 400 Million beacons by 2020. 2016 is looked forward for the really interesting new beacon use cases and deployments that is being explored and materialized. While in the beginning of 2015 talks were more limited to beacon deployment in retails, we have seen by the end of the year a lot more other players like hotels, hospitals, libraries and movie theaters successfully deploying beacons. By this year, with the springing up of a number beacon manufacturers and marketers, it is more and more being proved that beacon technology is here to stay.
The coming of Google, by mid July 2015, into the market with an open format and cross platform beacon solution, further changed the beacon world accelerating the beacon growth pace with industry observers and technocrats coming up with new sets of predictions and potential possibilities. Proxbook’s Q4 2015 notes that the support of Eddystone protocol is continuing to grow on a rapid scale, with 92 companies supporting it, which indicates a huge difference compared to 51 in Q3 and 7 in Q2. This rapid increase in adoption rate indicates the possibilities of Eddystone overriding iBeacon as the new standard of the beacon industry. The multi features of Eddystone, its capability to trigger URL’ while at the same time notifications within a mobile app and its compatibility with both iOS and Android devices is predicted as possessing potentials to open up new use cases and increase effectiveness of present use cases. Even though iBeacon support companies have risen in the past 1 year, Proxbook’s report predicts that the vast adoption rate of Eddystone might change the scene.
Four major possibilities Eddystone puts forward in the beacon industry makes it more than a mere fad.
- Initially, Eddystone with its open format came to the scene calling up the left out 80% smart phones to tune with the beacon world. The incompatibility of iBeacons with Android devices has literally left out 80% of smart phone users from the beacon services. Instead of courting merely iPhone users, Eddystone marketers and retailers can reach out to the others as well.
- Secondly, Google addresses one of the major issues, large scale beacon deployments have been facing. With crowd sourced solution of Eddystone beacon it is possible to track beacon health and location which wasn’t possible with iBeacons. Along with providing the ability to crowd source beacon battery level and health it can also potentially report on the environmental conditions of the area where Eddystone beacons are deployed.
- Third and lot talked about is the URL frame type of Eddystone beacons. This opens up the possibilities to deploy beacons in ways unconventional and innovative.
- Finally, the open format of Eddystone beacons offers many possibilities for extension by other actors. its specification is published on Github under the Apache 2.0 license which can be accessed by developers and manufacturers and also make contributions to it.
Coming to the use cases of Eddystone beacons, Google itself has experimented and is deploying Eddystone Beacon network to enhance the quality of its other products.
In 2015 itself, Google has announced its intention to deploy Eddystone beacon network with other Google products like Google Maps and Google Now. Google Now would use proximity details delivered by any of the Eddystone frame type, like showing menu items when inside a restaurant. Also, in 2015, Google ran a pilot program with TriMet in Portland, where Eddystone beacons were installed at transit stations to provide real time transit updates to the smart phones of the passengers.
The launching of Eddystone beacons has also received a sudden positive response from the air transport industry. Beacon providers who have been working with air travel industry received Eddystone with hopes about larger possibilities in the industry and have declared private testing in some airports. United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic who have been experimenting with iBeacons have already considered broader beacon benefits with the launching of Eddystone. Virgin Atlantic highlighted improved way finding and navigation as potential benefits of Eddystone beacons. Abdel Halim of United Airlines speaking at FTE Global, a leading meeting place for travel industry stake holders, in 2015 said, “We see a lot of potential around improving the customer experience by knowing their location; providing indoor navigation and walk times; crowd sourcing security wait times and sharing that information – just to name a few examples. There’s a large number of use cases; from customer-facing, to employee-facing, to operational back office. Many of these possibilities are long-term, and we’ll look to gather feedback from customers on their expectations and preferences as we develop any product or solution with this technology.