As we look ahead to the new year, it’s worth reflecting on some of the advancements in Bluetooth® beacon technology. 2017 was a big year for beacons as we started seeing them being regularly deployed in facilities that impact our everyday lives. Already beacons are broadcasting in stadiums, universities, train stations, and popular retail locations, helping visitors navigate their surroundings and enhancing the overall customer experience.  

Last month, we posted an article looking at how a major retailer’s indoor positioning system creates better shopper experiences for its customers. According to a recent Proximity Directory report, 75 percent of top U.S. retailers have already implemented beacons in their locations. But this is just the beginning. 

Miami International Airport…was the first airport in the U.S. to use technology enabled by Bluetooth beacons.

How They Work and Where You’ll Find Them 

Beacons are small devices, strategically placed throughout a location, that transmit a continuous signal to any mobile device in range. Powered by Bluetooth® technology, these building-wide networks enable indoor positioning and location-based services, like way finding, asset management, and point-of-interest solutions.  

Beacons are ideal for sharing information with visitors and locating and tracking valuable items or equipment. They are helping venues like museums and stadiums provide visitors with a more personalized and fulfilling experience. 

Perhaps the most compelling application for beacons in recent months has been deployment in airports to monitor traffic flow and help travelers find their way around. A recent Proximity Directory report states that 84 percent of global airports will be using beacons by 2019. 

The use cases below offer a complete look at how some airports are currently using beacon technology to enhance your travel experience.  

  • Gatwick Airport – (UK) Gatwick Airport installed around 2,000 beacons in two terminals. The system uses Pointr Labs’ blue-dot positioning service to provide an augmented reality tool that guides you through the airport.  
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International and San Diego International use BLIP Systems to manage travel times, queue times, and movement patterns with the help of Bluetooth  sensors. 
  • DFW International and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport use LocusLabs technology to help passengers call up maps on their phones that guide them to terminals and shops. 
  • New York’s JFK relies on beacons to monitor each passenger’s Bluetooth enabled cell phone as they move through the airport, which allows staff to prevent bottlenecks before they escalate and cause delays. 
  • Miami International Airport is a leading adopter of beacon technology. Using data collected from Bluetooth beacons, MIA’s app can alert passengers to their gate, flight times, and baggage collection area. 

A Step Stone to a Smarter World 

Bluetooth® beacon technology is opening the door to the realization of truly smart buildings. Not only can beacons help you navigate through your favorite destinations, but they can also support item-finding services (tracking lost keys or wallets) and broadcast point-of-interest information (museums, tourism, and education). These advanced services not only enhance the visitor experience, but they also extend the long-term return on smart building investment. 

“We’re opening the door for…new real-time services that can help passengers find their way around the airport.”

Abhi Chacko, Head of IT Commercial & Innovation, Gatwick Airport

Today, Bluetooth beacons are working to keep you better informed while helping you more easily navigate your world. Tomorrow, beacon technology will continue to support new smart building innovations while contributing to the true smart city experience. 

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