Previously, we covered the “Pull” technologies, NFC and QR (here).  Today, we’re looking at the “Push” technologies.

The “Push” technologies: Beacons, Wi-Fi, Geofences

With Beacons, Wi-Fi, and Geofences, the user needs an application to be on their device and they need to perform a triggering event to receive notifications.  That is, the user receives a notification via the app once they enter the coverage area of the beacon/wi-fi network/geofence, provided that they have granted permissions for the app to use location services.

The main difference between the three technologies involved is the range at which these technologies are effective.  Beacons have the shortest range

(refer to the manufacturer for actual range, but typically the effective range is roughly the size of a room).  Geofences, theoretically can have the largest range, up to several hundred meters (although trying to provide a location specific message at that range is probably not going to be very useful).  As for Wi-fi, usual range is up to 150 feet (if indoors) or up to 300 feet (outdoors), but it can vary based on a number of factors.

How can you use beacons, wifi or geofences?

The main benefit to these technologies, compared with the pull technologies, is that there is essentially no action required to trigger an action, except for the user entering a defined area, staying within a defined area, or leaving a defined area.  The only prerequisite is that the user needs to have an app able to receive a signal.  Certainly, no requirement to tap an NFC enabled poster to trigger an action, or snap a picture of a QR code.

There’s a lot of current real world examples of retailers using beacons to reach their customers – here, here and here.  What about other scenarios not involving retail stores?

Imagine you’ve run out of the office to catch your bus.  You were engrossed in an important discussion with your Boston-area born and bred coworker on who will win the Super Bowl.  A critical discussion that needed to happen as you had to drop some serious knowledge on your coworker as to why Seattle should win, but you realize that you’re leaving the office 10 minutes later than usual – and the walk normally takes about 15 minutes.  You open up the transit app on your phone to check the scheduled departure time, and you realize you’re late.  After running through a number of “Don’t Walk” lights, hoping against hope you can channel your inner Usain Bolt to make it to the bus stop on time, you receive a notification on your phone via the transit app stating that your bus has been delayed.  You are relieved that you now have enough time to stop running, calmly walk to your bus stop and still have enough time to fire off a “Go Hawks” text to your (thanks to you) educated coworker.

You’re taking an afternoon off to go to your local museum, as you’re really interested in 17th century Dutch art and there’s a limited time exhibit closing tomorrow.  As you enter the museum, you notice a poster advertising a mobile app for the museum, promising a more educational and immersive experience.  Interested, you install the app, and grant permissions to allow location services to be used.  As you approach Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, you get a notification on your phone from the museum’s app.  Clicking on the notification, you’re taken to a web page that details the background and history of the painting, a summary of Johannes Vermeer and his other paintings and the cultural references inspired by the painting.  You’re amazed you had that much information at your fingertips without having to get really close to the painting and the little summary that is usually posted next to the artwork.

In conclusion, I hope these Proximity Primer and Using the Technology articles helped explain how and why this is such an exciting field.  There are a number of different ways these technologies can be leveraged to help you engage your customers in a new, meaningful way.

Would you like to know how you can use these technologies to extend your reach?  Click on the Try It Free button below.


Topics: How to use beacons, wifi and geofences

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