Tag Archives: RECO

So, What is Eddystone?

Google launched “Eddystone,” an open source, cross-platform Bluetooth LE beacon format on July 14th. We have been paying attention to this as we are planning to release a version of RECO that can work with Google’s Eddystone. Before the release of the new product, we want to share with you about Eddystone.

Eddystone

What is Eddystone?

Eddystone is another Bluetooth beacon protocol Google came up with — Apple announced iBeacon back in 2013. 2 years after iBeacon, Google is presenting Bluetooth beacon technology that overcomes shortcomings and even more diverse use cases.

While iBeacon was compatible with Android, it didn’t officially support Android; iBeacon was only native for iOS.

Eddystone, however, fully supports both iOS and Android. As Google is trying to come up with an ecosystem for Bluetooth beacons use cases, Eddystone is open source and is available on GitHub. We can tell Eddystone is more open then iBeacon, and Google is planning something bigger with it.

 

google_confidential_roundup

With the Physical Web project, Google Map would be a great app to incorporate with Eddystone technology.

<image: trimlet.org>

What can you do with Eddystone?

Unlike iBeacon, Eddystone supports multiple frame types — which enable the user to decide what to use depending on their purpose.

Here are types of Eddystone’s frame types,

1. Unique Identifier (UID) :  UID is a 16 byte data that can trigger push notifications or planned action, just like iBeacon’s UUID.

2. URL :  Eddystone can send URLs as their data packet. Supposedly, this overcomes Bluetooth beacon’s obstacle of needing a corresponding app. Since this is similar to the concept of Physical Web, and at this point you need Physical Web scanner app to open the URL data from Eddystone.

3. Ephemeral Identifier (EID) : The purpose of EID is security, which is a very sensitive topic in beacon industry. If Eddystone can support reliable security, there will be much more opportunities open up to beacon technology.

What is EID?
Ephemeral Identifier is an ID temporary given, so only the authorized user can access the ID.

4. Telemetry Data : When a bigger scale of beacons is installed, this frame type will be very useful. Google is planning to implement this feature with Google Now.

Google Eddystone

Imagine your life with beacon, where you can get information at right time, right place.

<image: Google Developers Blog>

 

RECO, we are Eddystone ready.

RECO Beacon’s lates firmware now supports Eddystone. You can place your order from September.  With the same reliable hardware and proprietary software, RECO is looking forward to expanding in beacon industry.

 

Bonus – Why is it called Eddystone?

Google says it’s named after the Eddystone Lighthouse in the UK. The motif is that beacons guide users and apps in the real world the same way lighthouses guide ship captains in the night. We also explained why a lighthouse is often used as a metaphor for a Bluetooth beacon in our previous post. Take a look at it if you want to understand more about the concept of beacons – no matter it is Eddystone or iBeacon, both follow the same concept.

 

RECO Manager and your business – Beacon Management

RECO Manager

Everyone knows that beacons are the future, but so far very few companies have made anything extraordinary using them. If you’ve been following along on our blog or have tried to design a beacon experience for your customers, you probably already know why. In the past, it has been a rather difficult and time-consuming task to set up a beacon system, and just as difficult to change it when you want to update things. All this has changed with RECO Manager.

In the past, when you set up a beacon system you had to program each beacon individually by connecting to it on-site. You also had to maintain an up-to-date map of all your beacons and make most of your change server-side. If you wanted to redo the beacon locations in one of your retail locations it was a major undertaking, requiring very organized planning and considerable effort from technologically proficient on-site staff. This meant expensive training sessions and many wasted hours of skilled labor.

In contrast, the same change is possible using RECO Manager, a single off-site technology specialist, and your regular untrained employees. You create your new plan and simply send them a map of where to put the beacons. The rest of the setup is remotely managed by your tech specialist using the RECO Manager installed at the site. He can reprogram signals on the fly, check placement, signal strength, and battery levels, and even decide groupings. With all this, your new design is possible with much less effort, making continually-updated, beacon-mediated user experiences a feasible reality.

This is why RECO Manager is such a game-changer. It doesn’t  just make maintenance far simpler and cheaper, it completely reinvents what is feasible to do with beacons. What before might have taken you a hundred hours and a painstakingly trained staff at each location an now be done in just a couple hours with a single specialist located anywhere in the world. Real creativity in beacon system design is no longer too expensive to execute. You now have the option to complety redesign your customer’s beacon-mediated shopping experience at will without constantly worrying about mounting costs. RECO Manager will let you get several steps ahead of the competition, who will be stuck using static beacon installations and design experiences customers will quickly grow weary of and discard. Be the future.

Over the next weeks we will introduce specific example usage cases for various types of deployment scenarios employing RECO Manager in your beacon management system. From simple setups to creative masterpieces, we will show you a glimpse of the future for beacon-using companies. Join us on this journey.

FAQ for RECO Beacon

Frequently Asked Questions

As we reviewed our recent meetings, we realized that there are certain questions most people end up asking about RECO Beacon. With that in mind, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions.

1. Does RECO Beacon use Bluetooth?

RECO Beacon is a one-way signal-sending device that sends out a Bluetooth signal at preset intervals. This signal is noticed by applications making use of the RECO Beacon SDK.
Connecting a given location and a smartphone app, RECO Beacon offers diverse user scenarios including sending coupons to only those who are visiting certain locations and indoor navigation using multiple RECO Beacons.
Keep in mind that the device’s Bluetooth needs to be enabled in order for the device to get RECO Beacon’s Bluetooth signal.

 

2. Is an app with the RECO Beacon SDK required to make use of RECO Beacon? 

It is possible to offer a lot of services such as marketing, advertisement, content delivery, and indoor navigation using RECO Beacon. These services recognize the Bluetooth signal from the RECO Beacon by utilizing the RECO Beacon SDK. If the device doesn’t have a smartphone app utilizing the RECO Beacon SDK, it cannot recognize the signal. The RECO Beacon SDK supports both Android and iOS.

 

3. Does RECO Beacon have on/off switch?

RECO Beacon doesn’t have an on/off switch–it is always on. With a battery life rated for approximately 1-2 years of continuous use, depending on transmit power, you don’t need to worry about turning it off. When you order RECO Beacons, they are already on from the time we ship them.

 

4. Does RECO Beacon collect data from devices?

RECO Beacon is a one-way signal-sending device, so it doesn’t collect nor store any data from devices. Even when a device is connected to the RECO Beacon using our Configuration Utility App, it doesn’t collect any data. If you want to collect data, you must program your app to do so.

 

5.  Is there a limit to how many devices can receive a single RECO Beacon signal?

No, there is no limit. RECO Beacon can have a range from 3 meters to 70 meters. All devices within this range can receive the signal from a single RECO Beacon.

 

6. Do RECO Beacons communicate with each other?

No, RECO Beacon is a one-way signal-sending device. The signal is recognized by applications on other devices which utilize the RECO Beacon SDK. To communicate with beacons you have installed you should set up a RECO Manager within range of the designated beacons.We have created this device specifically to allow you to communicate with multiple beacons simultaneously in order to change their settings or whatever else you want to do.

RECO Going Global @ MWC, Barcelona 2-5 Mar 2015

Experience the Next Generation of Bluetooth Beacons

Perples will be taking part in MWC 2015 (Mobile World Conference), the biggest tech event of the year, held in Barcelona, Spain, on March 2-5.  We will be demoing the latest in Bluetooth Beacon technology, including our first-of-its-kind beacon management device, RECO Manager.

Visit Us at Booth 7E21, Hall 7

Perples_RECO_MWC_2015

Perples welcomes anyone interested in BLE beacon services, RECO Beacon, and RECO Manager to stop by our booth and learn first hand about the future of beacon technology. We are always open to new business partners from around the world and our business managers and engineers will be ready to answer any questions you might have if you come visit us. If you would like to schedule a private meeting during the event, or if you have any other inquiries,  please don’t hesitate to contact us at biz@perples.com.

We look forward to seeing you at MWC 2015, Barcelona.

Why is RECO Manager needed for beacon managment and whom is it for?

RECO Manager, currently in pre-order, is an innovative beacon management product that connects to and manages all the beacons within its range. As long as you install each RECO Beacon within range of a RECO Manager, you will be able to log on from anywhere and use the web-based RECO Cloud Console to remotely manage your entire beacon system, no matter how large or how far flung.

If you are currently running a beacon service, the benefits of using RECO Manager will come to you immediately just by reading the general description above. However, if you are currently exploring the possibility of implementing a beacon system, you might wonder why RECO Manager is needed and whom it will benefit most.

 

Why is RECO Manager needed?

Currently, without RECO Manager, continuous onsite maintenance is required to provide a reliable beacon service. There is no way to know whether a beacon is low on battery, physically damaged, or even stolen without being present at the installation point. Also, if you want to change the configuration settings of each beacon, the maintenance crew has to change each beacon manually within the beacon’s signal range. These beacon management issues cause high maintenance costs and are the major reasons why many businesses are hesitant on implementing a beacon system.

RECO Manager is a product that solves such management issues. When installed together with RECO Beacon, it allows managers to remotely monitor all the beacons within the RECO Manager’s range and change configurations when needed. With RECO Manager’s powerful beacon management functions, the cost of maintaining a beacon system is drastically reduced making RECO Manager a game changer.

 

Whom is RECO Manager for?

RECO Manager’s core benefits are best utilized in remote/large scale beacon services. Below are some examples of when you should consider installing a RECO Manager.

1. You need to remotely manage beacons

If you don’t have an onsite maintenance crew to monitor the beacon service status daily, the web-based RECO Cloud Console will benefit you greatly. You can access the Cloud Console from anywhere with any device with access to the internet and monitor the beacons. What’s even better is, since RECO Manager will notify you by e-mail in case a maintenance issue occurs, you actually don’t even need to log-in daily.

2. You have multiple venues in different locations and want to manage all the beacons synchronously

If you are a business manager for a national or even worldwide retail store chain, maintaining a high service level at each store is going to be difficult. Every in-store manager has to be trained to monitor the beacons installed and respond according to the different maintenance issue. By installing RECO Managers at every store, maintaining the beacon service becomes a one man job, and in-store managers are only needed when beacons need to be replaced with new ones. Replacing beacons are simple as well. The in-store manager doesn’t need to configure or register each beacon since RECO Manager detects and registers new beacons automatically, while configuration can be done with a few clicks from the Cloud Console.

3. You have a big venue with a large fleet of beacons

Installing and managing a beacon system for large venues such as a museum or a sports stadium is a lot of work. Hundreds of beacons can be installed in a single large venue, making service monitoring a nightmare for the maintenance crew. By installing RECO Managers at the central points, monitoring hundreds of beacons can be done in a heartbeat.

4. You want to integrate the beacon management functions into an existing management system

RECO Manager comes with the RECO Cloud API for easy system integration. If you already have a management system such as CRM, CMS, or a PMS and want to integrate the beacon management functions provided by the RECO Cloud Console, RECO Manager is your solution.

 

To learn more about RECO Manager and pre-order your own, visit RECO website RECO2.me.

Beacon, Four Things to Consider on Application

Bluetooth beacons can be used in many ways for different service scenarios.  However, one thing all beacon services need is an application that runs on the receiver. According to the type of receiver and operating system, some type of application needs to be used as a user interface. For people considering beacon services, finding or developing the right application can be more important and even be the deciding factor on determining whether beacons are suited for your needs.

beacon, what to consider on Application

1. What type of app do you need for customer engagement?

You need to determine the type of app you want to use to scan the BLE signals from your beacons, according to the beacon service model you design. This means you want your customers to have the app installed and opened at the time and place you intend to provide a beacon service. For instance, if you are a café owner and want to use a beacon service to drive sales by giving special offers, a payment app or a loyalty program app for stamps or mileage might be ideal. It would allow you to push coupons or ads at the point-of-purchase since customers are motivated to open the loyalty program app to collect stamps.

 

2. Do you have an app already?

If you already have an app that your target customers are currently using, you just have to upgrade your app so it can detect the Bluetooth signals. There are many beacon brands that provide an SDK for you to develop or upgrade apps and customize the beacon experience. Some brands provide an SDK for either Android or iOS, while others provide an SDK for both.  Choose the beacon product that supports your customer base device coverage best.  

 

3. Do you want to develop your own app?

If you don’t have an app already in service, you might want to develop your own. Developing your own app can be a great opportunity in certain conditions, but requires a lot of investment. Whether you develop the app in-house or outsource it, it takes time and money. Also, the app itself needs to be designed attractively enough for customers to install it. Since the app needs to be installed prior to receiving services, a lot of marketing effort has to be put in to promote the installation of your app. If you can devote enough resources to get the app installed, you can provide a customized beacon service scenario that is ideally suited to your business.

 

4. Is there an app service you can partner up with?

Depending on your customer pool and target customers of the beacon service, an app for multipurpose and general daily usage can be preferable. For example, if the goal of your beacon service is to attract new customers and get people into your store, using a popular 3rd party app is best. However, in this case you have to partner up with the 3rd party app provider to upgrade the app with the SDK. Also, both parties need to benefit from the beacon service and this therefore complicates the beacon service business model. Customization of the app to provide optimal service to your business is limited and brand synergy can also become an issue, since the partnership can be perceived as a brand alliance. Even though there are many factors to consider, the potential customer pool provided by the popular 3rd party app is still a very attractive option.

Beacon, Four Things to Consider on MANAGEMENT

beacon infographic

While a Bluetooth beacon may seem like a fancy new technology, remember it is still a piece of hardware and requires a management plan just like any other hardware implementation. Here are four things you should consider about how you are going to manage your fleet of beacons.

 

1. How many beacons do you need?

A Bluetooth beacon can cover an area of up to 70 meters, but depending on the type of beacon service you are building and the information you want to send your customers, you may want to install multiple beacons covering smaller regions. For example, if your goal is to increase the number of walk-ins you get from potential customers passing by your store, one max range beacon on the door may do the job, but if you want to use micro-location marketing you might want minimum range beacons on every shelf. Finally, remember that each beacon can only send a single ID. While you can build instructions into your app to display new messages if a beacon has been in range for a specified amount of time (Need more help? Ask an associate.) or if it has come back within range again (Welcome back!), to send different messages for different micro-locations  (i.e. one message in the men’s department and another over in the women’s department) you will need multiple beacons sending different IDs.

 

2. Where will you place your beacons?

Beacon placement is a major consideration in efficiently achieving your goals with a beacon system. Ranging is critical–devices interact with a beacon the moment they come within range, so you want them to come in range right at the moment you want the message delivered. Design your system with this in mind, and don’t forget that beacons send out an omnidirectional signal–you need to locate them in the center of your targeted message-delivery zone or your design won’t work.

Second, many beacons are pretty and might be an interesting marketing gimmick in and of themselves, but don’t forget to consider structural interference and the possibility of theft when deciding where to place them.

Finally, maintenance considerations may also play a role in placement. Although most beacons have a lifespan greater than a year in general conditions, depending on service design and beacon signal configuration, it can shorten up to three or four months and needs to be changed freequently. In this case, using battery replaceable beacons and placing them so it can be easily accessible is prefered.

 

3. How will you update your beacon system?

If you are considering setting up a beacon system in multiple locations, it is very important to consider how you will roll out updates to each beacon in each location. When you want to simply change the information being sent, you can update the information from the app server very easily. However, if you want to make a change to the structure of your system, whether that be the transmit power of various beacons, the IDs they send, or how frequently they send out a signal, there are quite a few more considerations. Early-generation technology relied on individualized configuration with a smart device from within Bluetooth range and often required a trained technician. Therefore a designated team of beacon managers and on site manager training is needed, which can be costly if frequent beacon configuration change is required to provide the service you need.

 

4. How will you manage batteries?

Bluetooth beacons use Bluetooth LE, which consumes a fraction of the energy regular Bluetooth requires – but they will still run out of battery eventually, usually within a year or two. Therefore, you need to have a plan to check the remaining battery life and to change the batteries. If the beacons you selected do not allow you to change out their batteries, you will need to plan your replacement and reprogramming strategy as well. At the most basic level, this might mean regularly checking the battery level manually while on-site and within Bluetooth range, which all adds up to maintenance cost.

 

Related: What is a Bluetooth beacon?  Beacon, Five Things to Consider on STRATEGY

Beacon, Five Things to Consider on STRATEGY

Beacon, Five Things to Consider on STRATEGY

Bluetooth beacons can be implemented for both B2B and B2C with many possible scenarios, (see What is Possible with Beacons and Bluetooth LE: Dreams Beaconning Reality), but here we will discuss under B2C context.

Thinking about how you could use beacons to help your business? Here are five things you should consider when creating a strategy for your new beacon system.

 

  1. What are you going to use beacons for?

Beacons have many possible usage scenarios in different fields. Before starting your beacon system, you need to decide which ones you want to use Bluetooth beacons for. Here are some of possibilities.

  • Marketing: coupons, brand awareness, driving traffic into your store, etc
  • Information: product information, display information, directions, etc
  • Location data: customer location, in-store ad effectiveness, repeat customer information, purchase pattern, etc

 

  1. Are your target customers smartphone-friendly?

Be sure to consider whether your target customers are likely to have smartphones with Bluetooth 4.0 and whether their lifestyles involve close interactions with their smartphones. Remember, some older smartphones are not Bluetooth LE capable, and some demographics have not yet converted to smartphones even.

 

  1. What kind of information are you planning to deliver to your customers?

You can deliver more targeted information to your customers at better times and better locations with beacon systems. To fully utilize the benefits of this new technology, it is crucial to understand what types and form of information is most effective in accomplishing your goal, whether that be brand awareness, point-of-sale marketing, increasing foot traffic, customer engagement, or something else. The type of information you push such can be coupons, individually targeted brand information, or time specific offers and more. The information format can be simple text, images or even videos of ads or product reviews.

 

  1. How will you make sure it isn’t intrusive/frustrating for the customer?

To active smartphone users, push notifications are a very effective way (4 times higher open rate than email, email 23% push notification 90%, http://publ.com/blog/2014/09/29/e-mail-vs-sms-vs-push-notifications-which-is-more-effective) to send information, when they are used right. Therefore a beacon system is a very powerful tool and you need to be careful how you use it.  When used correctly, it can be very effective, but when used incorrectly, it can leave a bad impression of your brand in the customer’s mind – much more so than with other tools. Unwanted push notifications or pop-ups can easily be considered spam and actually drive customers away, while coupons and other beneficial things at the moment of decision can help you convert sales at a much higher rate.

 

  1. Is your beacon service aligned with your branding?

Branding 101, you want to shout out the same tone of voice as your brand. This is a new technology, but it also needs to be in the same line with your branding. Plan to give the whole brand experience seamlessly, matching your brand messaging. Think about the service design as well as the implementation.

 

Related: What is a Bluetooth beacon?

RECO was displayed in the Nordic booth at CES2015

RECO was displayed in the Nordic booth at CES2015

RECO at Nordic booth CES2015
RECO at Nordic booth CES2015

As a Bluetooth beacon manufactured with Nordic Semiconductor’s chipset, RECO was displayed at CES2015 to raise awareness about a company that will be at the forefront of the IoT revolution in the coming year. IoT was the biggest focus of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, as it will be in the general realm of technology, and we the RECO Team are glad that we can be a part of it.

What is Possible with Beacons and Bluetooth LE: Dreams Beaconning Reality

With a general understanding of Bluetooth Low Energy and beacons, (if you’re still in the dark, see our previous posts on Bluetooth LE and beacons) now you must be wondering how you can utilize this technology to develop new business opportunities or create unique customer experiences for your services. In order to do so, you must consider the different scenarios of integrating beacons and determine which scenario best suits your need. In this post, we will break down beacon user scenarios into three categories and give examples for you to use as a guideline in determining your own way of exploiting beacons.

Any service or solution using beacons will always have to consider two factors in structuring the user scenario: beacons and receivers. With this in mind, the three basic scenarios for beacons are:

  1. Beacons as a constant and receivers as a variable
  2. Beacons as a variable and receivers as a constant
  3. Beacons and receivers both as variables

To further explain the terminology used here to describe the different situations, beacons are device that send out a Bluetooth LE signal and receivers are devices that detect signals from beacons. Although any smart device like a smartphone or tablet can be used as a receiver, receivers do not necessarily have to be smart devices or even connected to a network, if you set them up planning for that.

To continue, a “constant” means a device that does not physically move to a different location during the entire duration of the service, and a “variable” means a device that is free to roam around as needed. For instance a beacon or a receiver attached to a wall is considered a “constant”, and any smartphone on the street can be considered a “variable”.

beacons are device that send out a Bluetooth LE signal and receivers are devices that detect signals from beacons

Scenario 1 is currently the most well known case of the three, since it is easily suited to a B2C context. The most common example would be a retail store push notification system, where retailers can push information to customers’ smartphones such as coupons, special offers, or product recommendations. Another example of scenario 1 is placing beacons in venues such as museums and galleries. By placing a beacon on each artifact, you can create an automated docent system where visitors receive additional information about each artifact as they approach it. The additional information can be in any form, from simple text and images to videos or even narration in different languages.

Scenario 2 is more challenging to develop as a service model and it is generally more suited to a B2B context. A simple application of scenario 2 would be a cargo tracking system. By attaching beacons to cargo container trucks and placing receivers at the docking sites, you can track the time and place each cargo is unloaded. A more complex version of this example would be attaching beacons to shopping carts in large grocery stores. By installing receivers on every aisle, you could track each shopper’s movement path and use this data to analyze customers’ shopping behaviors.

Scenario 3 is the most unique and creative scenario and has the most room to be explored. A great example of scenario 3 is the lost and found service model. By attaching a beacon to an object or even a person, such as a young child, you can track the whereabouts of the variable objects in proximity to your variable receiver, in this case your smartphones. When the variable beacon you registered is out of range of your smartphone you will be alerted via alarm, e-mail, or even a phone call. If another person is using the same lost and found service, and the lost beacon that is out of your receiver’s range comes into that person’s proximity, he or she can alert you the location so you can track back and find your beacon. This is a great service that can be very useful if it can scale up to provide enough geographic coverage.

Although we simplified the scenarios to consider just two factors, beacons and receivers, it is technically possible for receivers to act as beacons by changing the configuration, which can lead to more application possibilities. The user scenarios and service examples given in this post are just a glimpse of the potential that exists in the world of beacons and Bluetooth LE. However there are also limitations you must consider before jumping into developing services using beacons, and we will look more into those in our next post.