iBeacon: Looking beyond Hardware
Being a pioneer in iBeacon app development, Dex has always tried to provide best to its clients. Following the custom, we are bringing some insights on iBeacon technology straight from companies who live and breath iBeacons. To begin with here is a excerpt from our discussion with Wojtek Borowicz (@Esti_Wojtek), Community Evangelist at Estimote and what Estimote has in store for its customers
Beacon vendors are often described as hardware companies. It’s an easy assumption to make. After all, they do build and deliver the devices. It’s worth remembering, though, that successful deployments only start with the beacons themselves. The bigger picture consists of many more, equally important elements.
It is true, the importance of solid hardware in the iBeacon business cannot be overstated. As the bottom part of the stack, the beacon is the foundation for all the other elements. Still, building a beautiful construction that also serves its purpose requires so much more than just laying the foundation. With iBeacon platforms, it’s the same. There are many layers on top of hardware, and all of them are equally important.
What lies beyond?
It’s the mobile apps that are doing all the heavy lifting after being triggered by a beacon. This means that to build a solution leveraging iBeacon, you’ll either need to integrate it with your existing app, or develop a new one. You can do that with Apple’s Core Location, but keep in mind it only gives you access to the basic funcionalities: monitoring and ranging. A good, vendor-specific SDK will help you unlock much more value. For example the Estimote SDK includes sensor data support, Estimote Cloud integration, and contextual logic mechanics called ‘triggers’. Keep in mind though that being vendor agnostic rarely goes hand in hand with proprietary SDKs: this will be one of the first choices to make when building an iBeacon app.
Deploying beacons at scale requires several things. Two of the key elements are security and a fleet management solution, allowing you to easily control your beacon network. At Estimote, we have tied both those components with Estimote Cloud, the core of our platform. Two-level security layer prevents unauthorized access and piggybacking on someone else’s beacons. And from the dashboard level, it’s possible to remotely access beacons’ setting and monitor remaining battery life.
And finally, there’s the content layer. Having all the content hardcoded into your app might work, but leaves you with little flexibility and limited potential for personalization. Also, every update requires going through the App Store approval process all over again. Developing your own CMS, on the other hand, is time consuming. That’s why it might be a good idea to look at existing solutions, that make delivering content via iBeacon apps easy. The best examples include Rover and Pushmote, but you can also look for solutions dedicated for particular use cases, like STQRY, a storytelling platform for cultural institutions.
To sum it up: when deploying beacons, always look at the bigger picture. At Estimote we’re super proud of our hardware: it’s beautiful from the outside and, thanks to temperature sensor, accelerometer and great antenna design, top class on the inside. But this is only a starting point. So before you start building your app, consider all layers. Beacons, SDK, security, cloud backend, fleet management, analytics, content, etc. And be wary that no single company has integrated all of those into a single offering just yet: it’s up to you to pick the best components.