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What is a beacon? Examples of familiar use and how to use it for new customer attraction services


Originally, a “beacon” is a term that refers to something that guides or sends a signal.
It has the meaning of a lighthouse or smoke signal, but nowadays it is often used to mean an information gathering/sending service using Bluetooth.
Especially after the announcement of “iBeacon”, the word b became widely known.
This is because the functions and services of b are expanding due to the spread of smartphones and the increase in the number of terminals that can receive b signals.
This time, we will introduce the basic knowledge and types of b, as well as customer attraction services that utilize beacons.

table of contents

  • 1. What is a beacon?
  • 2. Differences between beacons and other communication devices
  • 3. Types of beacons around you
  • 4. Customer attraction support service using beacon
  • 5. Future issues of beacons that can be used for sales promotion services


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What is a beacon?

A terminal that sends information using a Bluetooth signal and its communication method are called “beacons”. As smartphones have become widespread and the number of terminals that can receive Bluetooth signals has increased, b are being used more and more.

● How to use the beacon

Beacons are a means of transmitting information using wireless technology. Once every few seconds, it wirelessly sends a signal within a radius of a few meters to a few tens of meters. If there is a receiving terminal within the range that can receive the b signal, it will detect it and send the location information to the server. You can also send information from the server to the receiving terminal.

Beacons have a relatively narrow signal transmission range, so it is possible to send information pinpointing and record user actions with multiple b terminals. Therefore, bs are used for information transmission services that use location information. It is used for navigation of directions in tourist spots and buildings, and as an audio guide for each work in museums. Different information can be sent for each booth at the event venue or event venue.
It is also used to manage employee attendance by using location information and to know the current location of cars and buses.

Beacons can be used on devices other than smartphones that have a Bluetooth reception function. For example, a device called “Pokémon GO Plus” is a dedicated terminal that can play Pokémon GO games in cooperation with a smartphone. In this way, b receiving terminals for specific purposes are also appearing.

● Beacon types and prices

B terminals come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including large ones built into machines and small button-type ones, stationary types that can also be used as interiors, waterproof and dustproof types, solar battery-based types, and all-weather types that can be installed outdoors. There are things. The price is relatively low, so it is easy to use.
In particular, many BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) compatible terminals are small types that are power-saving and can be driven by button batteries and are sold for about several hundred yen. Even large ones and types with special functions such as all-weather type cost about several thousand yen, and since they are often used as multiple sets, they are sometimes sold in units of 5 or 10.


Differences between beacons and other communication devices

Wireless communication methods that include location information include “GPS” and “Wi-Fi” in addition to b that use Bluetooth signals. What is the difference between Beacon and other wireless communication devices?

● Beacon features

Beacons have a narrower signal transmission range than other wireless communication methods. Therefore, it is possible to measure the position with high accuracy of several centimeters to several tens of centimeters.
In addition, the b signal can be used indoors or underground because it identifies and communicates with the individual signals of each terminal. It also features low battery consumption. Even if you use multiple terminals at the same time, the signals will not interfere with each other.

● Difference between GPS and beacon

GPS is a positioning system that uses artificial satellites. Signals are available in a wide range on a global scale, but the range is too wide and the position measurement is not very accurate. It may not be available in underground malls where radio waves from satellites do not reach. Also, GPS consumes a lot of battery power and is difficult to use for a long time, so it will be difficult to use it as easily as a beacon.

● Difference between Wi-Fi and Beacon

Wi-Fi collects terminal information for each access point and communicates with it, so the accuracy of position measurement is not very high. Battery consumption is low. You can communicate indoors, but you cannot adjust the strength of the radio waves, so if multiple access points are nearby, the signals will interfere with each other. Communication becomes unstable when signals interfere with each other, so information transmission will not be as stable as a beacon.


Types of beacons that are familiar to us

Beacons are used in familiar places. Let’s see the typical usage.

● VICS (Vehicle Information and Communication System)

The VICS b terminal is installed on the road and is a system for sending information such as traffic congestion conditions, time required to reach the destination, and road closure information to the moving vehicle. There are two types: “radio wave beacons” that use radio waves used on highways and “optical b” that use infrared rays used on ordinary roads. The information sent by VICS is displayed on the car navigation screen so that the driver can always be informed of the latest information.

● Avalanche Beacon

Avalanche beacons are used when climbing snowy mountains. In the event of distress or an avalanche buried under the snow, you can follow the b signal to locate and rescue the victim. The signal frequency is set lower than that of a normal b terminal or smartphone so that radio waves can reach even from the snow. It can be transmitted over a wide range and has long battery life.

● Web beacon

A tiny image embedded in a web page or a program called from that image file is called a web beacon. The image is so small that you cannot tell its existence just by looking at it. The program called from the web b collects the information of the user who is browsing the web page and analyzes the access.

● iB

iBeacon is a type of b, a proprietary standard announced by Apple Inc. The receiving app is installed as standard on iPhones with iOS 7 or later.
The function of B itself is not new, but in Japan, where there are many iPhone users, the number of people who can use B has increased with the advent of iPhones equipped with iB.
Generally, when using a b, a dedicated application for receiving is required, but since iB can use the b without developing a dedicated application, it is easy to use for the side that sends information. It is merit. It can be used not only on iPhone but also on Android devices and Windows Phone if there is an app.


Customer attraction support service using beacon

Some services and vendors support attracting customers using beacons. Introducing the customer attraction support service for store management.

● Mechanism of customer attraction support service using beacon

Beacon-based customer attraction support refers to a method of installing a b terminal in a store and transmitting information linked to location information to the smartphones of customers and people near the store, which leads to attracting customers and purchasing behavior. .. It can detect users who have entered the receivable range, send store information, product information, coupons, and give points according to the number of visits.

The store customer attraction support service is a service that supports small and medium-sized stores that think that it is a high hurdle to introduce the system only at their stores, even if they want to use b to attract customers.

● Features and benefits of customer attraction support services

In the case of Beacon using existing services that have many users such as iOS, Twitter, Facebook, there is no need to develop a dedicated application or set and manage the system. If you use the existing official website, e-mail newsletter, Facebook page, etc. for the content to be sent, you can easily start using it without the hassle of creating new content on the store side.

It is also possible to send information for each sales floor according to the distance from the b terminal or to send store information of your store to users in nearby stores. Since the information to be sent can be automatically translated, it is possible to appeal the store to foreign tourists.

Future issues of beacons that can be used for sales promotion services


With the spread of smartphones and the advent of iB, the use of beacons has expanded dramatically.
Currently, it is often used for sales promotion such as sending product information and sale information.
However, it is also a fact that users sometimes feel disgusted because the information is sent regardless of the target.
It is expected that the use of the beacon will be further expanded if it becomes possible to narrow down the target and send appropriate information and send unique content and if the content is pleasing to the users who received it.


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