Estimote Launches New Platform For Beacon Management At Scale
New software tools will accelerate the indoor location market.
Although it’s early, there’s already a perception in the market that Bluetooth beacons are a commodity. That’s not quite true, but there are lots of providers out there making it tough to differentiate them.
It now almost goes without saying that there are lots of exciting things that can be done with beacons, from offering smartphone owners real-time information, content and marketing messages in stores and other venues to helping the visually impaired, enhancing the experience of being in an art museum to enabling self-service, skip-the-line hotel check-in.
Beacons are widely misunderstood in the media and there are many misconceptions about the privacy implications of beacons. In fact, beacons require multiple consumer opt-ins before users can engage with them. It’s arguably the most privacy compliant of the indoor/offline location technologies available.
There are things that beacons do and don’t do but that’s another conversation. It’s safe to say that beacons have become popular largely because of Apple’s backing (iBeacon) and because they’re typically inexpensive (<$30 per beacon) and easy to deploy by non-technical staff. Numerous retailers, malls, sports teams and others have announced beacon deployments over the past year.
Managing beacons at any kind of scale is still a very challenging proposition. To that end, Estimote is announcing its new software stack that includes developer SDKs, APIs and other tools to better enable developers and enterprises to deploy and manage beacons at scale. Think dozens of beacons per retail chain store and hundreds of stores — thousands and thousands of beacons.
Estimote says that its new “flexible and extensible software allows remote configuration and management, enterprise-grade security, and rich analysis of data in real time for your entire beacon network.” It has simultaneously announced a range of partners that are integrating these tools into their existing systems. Among them are an impressive and diverse list of companies: IPG Medialab, Digitas, Euclid Analytics, RetailNext, Clover, Shopify and a host of others.
The company’s blog post describes in detail the new offering from a slightly more technical perspective than I’m providing. But here is a summary of the benefits of the new platform and software stack:
- Remote beacon management in the cloud on a global basis
- Over-the-air firmware updates
- Global security including cloud-based authentication to prevent third parties from hacking or tapping into beacon networks
- Real-world analytics
- APIs that allow beacon data to be integrated into existing enterprise software systems
Estimote says that its new platform is “a big step toward our vision of building an operating system and API layer for the physical world.”
Beacons have already established themselves as the leading indoor location technology. Indeed we’re experiencing something like “beacon mania” right now. Estimote is both trying to advance the entire segment at a practical level with these new tools and rise above the “commodity” status of most of the beacon providers currently in the market.
The new Estimote platform should accomplish both of those goals and compel other providers in the market to up their respective games.