Bluetooth Beacons are little pieces of hardware that uses radio signals to send out an alert of its presence. They continuously transmit a simple radio signal, that can be picked up by smartphones via Bluetooth LE (low energy). Through a beacon compatible app, the smartphone can trigger a certain action, and allow people, places and things to connect to the Internet indirectly.
Because the protocol in itself is so simple, beacons have near universal compatibility with mobile devices, and as the established connection can be used to improve user experience and productivity, they are considered to be the key contextual component of the Internet of Things (IoT). Beacon technology enables an extensive new world of possibilities for connectivity, and countless opportunities for interactivity between mobile devices and existing hardware. With a beacon network, any platform or device is able to connect with a user in the brick and mortar environment.
Beacons in the enterprise
On an enterprise level, the possibilities of beacon technology are astonishing. As more and more employees carry smartphones on the work floor, they expect consumer-level quality in enterprise software as well. Beacon Technology and the systems built around this technology allow them to get what they want.
Suddenly employees are able to connect with their enterprise environment in a whole new way. To start with a simple but convenient example: badges are no longer needed. Through a beacon at the office door, the door is able to open automatically. And there's more. Because of the beacon system that is installed, the room is able to connect with the person who enters, making it possible to customize it to his or her preferences.
Connecting people and machines
One of the projects in which we have used beacon technology, is our cooperation with Picanol. So far, we have developed two Android applications to connect to the weaving machine: Picanol EasySet and Picanol Energy. Both apps provide a clear insight into the machinery, and allow the operator to tweak and monitor the production process more easily. By integrating a Bluetooth chip in the weaving machine and applying the protocol, operators can detect on their smartphone which weaving machine is nearby. As soon as the operator wants to connect, a different Bluetooth technology is used to make the machine-smartphone connection. Via the start-of-the-art mobile app the operator receives access to the machine's data.
Adding connectivity via beacons allows for endless possibilities in making your organisation more productive and more valuable. In the future, we will see more and more examples of how integrating Bluetooth beacons improves enterprises, the way we interact with things and the way we work.
Are you interested in seeing how beacons and the Internet of Things can boost your enterprise? Let's meet up and discuss the ways to improve your processes and make your business more productive.