Estimote, a Y Combinator graduate and Hardware Alley exhibitor here at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013, was able to talk about something today that it’s never been able to before: how its product will work with Apple’s new iBeacon tech in iOS 7. iBeacons allow developers to communicate with iOS devices via Bluetooth Low Energy, in order to provide them with contextual info based on their immediate surroundings.
Back in July, John Biggs wrote about Estimote and its initial product, which is essentially a rock-shaped device which uses Bluetooth low energy to allow a retailer to do things like communicate deals to shoppers based on which aisle they’re in, for instance, or by letting them even send a payment token from a smartphone, with variable proximity programmable by the retailer, so you could either tap to pay or just get close to a terminal.
The tech was impressive enough as it is, but now that Apple has introduced iOS 7 and made its iBeacons feature official, Estimote’s Chris Waclawek explained that it’ll be much, much easier for companies to build software for iOS devices that can work with Estimote in a variety of ways. The company plans to make a variety of different kinds of hardware that can take advantage of iBeacon, to make things like abandoned shopping cart follow-up a realistic and easy-to-implement possibility for brick and mortar stores.
This would work by allowing retailers to detect how long they’re spending in fitting rooms, for instance, so that they can tell when a shopper has spent say 20 minutes trying something on, and then walked out without purchasing that item. They could then follow-up with a specific coupon for that article, allowing them to try to complete a sale that otherwise would’ve definitely been beyond reach.
Waclawek explained that Apple’s decision to embrace Bluetooth LE for these kinds of uses by developers means that NFC and QR codes are definitely dead at this point, since Bluetooth allows for much greater range and doesn’t require combining with any other tech for handshaking or anything else. He’s clearly excited by the prospects now that iBeacons is out and developers will have access to the tech.