A Parisian company wants to make Apple’s iBeacon irrelevant.
Starting next year, Ubudu — the Paris-based company — will launch the first batch of mesh beacons, called uBeacon Mesh. So what’s a mesh beacon and why do consumers need them? Here’s a rundown on the beacon that could be a game changer in this space.
Mesh beacons use a version of Bluetooth that came out last December that “turn the current generation of location-broadcasting beacons into a two-way, Net-connected network.” While Apple’s iBeacon acts like a standard beacon, the uBeacons can receive data from a consumer’s smartphone without needing to pair with the device. If a mesh beacon has Internet connection the mesh network can also communicate with the cloud and can communicate through Bluetooth to other mesh beacons. What that means for retailers and consumers is a better chance to communicate. Customers can send a message through a smartphone app to the store asking for assistance.
“Mesh beacons enable a world of new consumer experiences which wouldn’t be otherwise possible with conventional beacons,”Ubudu cofounder and chief marketing officer Thomas Saphir told VentureBeat.
The mesh beacon picks up the extra functions that standard beacons can’t. For instance, an iBeacon lets merchants know where customers are so they can send information from the store. But that problem is, for the beacon to work, the store needs a Wi-Fi network and the customer needs access to that network data. The connection also sets up another issue.
“The standard beacons can only be controlled and monitored locally in that one store, through Bluetooth (if each beacon is paired with a smartphone) or a physical connection,” VentureBeat reported. “Pairing sets up a connection between Bluetooth devices, such as when you pair your smartphone with your Bluetooth headphones.”
That’s where mesh beacons fill the gap. Around 250 apps have been built for the mesh technology, VentureBeat said. The technology has been installed as a beta test in Canada, France and Europe.
“In a mesh network, as with standard beacons, the graphics of a coupon and other byte-heavy components of a location-targeted message can live in the app. But uBeacons can receive the dynamic info — pricing, product data, and the like — via the Net through the mesh network, and then send that data to the customer. Wi-Fi or cellular data is not required for the customer, as is the case with standard beacons.”