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Beacon Technology: Is 2014 the year of the beacon ?

On Aug. 25th RNF’s CTO Mike Mannion appeared with Social Affairs Editor and Presenter Jackie Long, as well as respected journalist Anna Minton on Channel 4 News as a subject matter expert in  a piece (indirectly) related to Beacon technology. The driver for the piece was the concern raised by some that beacon technology represented a potential (further) incursion by government and big business into the unsuspecting public’s private affairs.

During the debate Anna Minton, author of the 2009 book “Ground Control”, stated that the government is “funding advertising on behalf of the advertisers”. This is a factually incorrect statement, as Mike pointed out. The support RNF has obtained from an innovation grant enables us to conduct valuable research and development to help us to compete on a fast moving global stage. It allows us to develop an application that puts RNF at the forefront of the technology, which will result in many opportunities that create jobs and ultimately benefit the UK economy.

Mike further commented on some of the common misconceptions regarding the technology. In particular, beacons are not specifically designed for the purpose of targeting people with advertisements. Beacon technology isn’t even specific to retail. RNF is working in several sectors to develop innovative and meaningful deployments of the technology. This includes sophisticated indoor navigation systems and health & safety applications, as well as advances in “accessibility” technology, which will offer transformative benefits to the visually impaired or hard of hearing.

We at RNF are currently developing a cutting edge health and safety solution, which incorporates beacons ensuring the user is presented with immediate and relevant information to support their inspection activity. We are also supporting a blue chip conference with beacons and other location based services technologies designed to enhance the delegates’ experience. The technology could also be used to enhance the visitor experience in museums or leisure based activities, for example.

2014 has not become the year of the beacon as some predicted, more accurately it has become a year dominated by pilot deployments of the technology.  With the momentum it is gaining and with the huge potential it offers in multiple sectors, it is more likely that 2015 is in fact the year of the beacon deployed in parallel with other location based service technologies, offering a truly localised and relevant user experience.