During the iOS 7 launch earlier this year, one new feature was mentioned without much fanfare: iBeacons, location based technology that has interesting possibilities for retail. Using the iBeacon system, a retailer could install transmitters throughout a store that will wirelessly connect to an iPhone and detect the device’s location in relation to items on the store’s shelves.
This iPhone could then perform additional functionality if it is equipped with a specialized application. According to multiple sources, Apple is planning to soon enable just that in its retail stores…
Apple has reportedly stocked up on iBeacon transmitters, and is said to be preparing to begin installing the sensors in its retail stores in the United States as soon as in the next few days. The transmitters will be placed on the tables displaying Apple’s devices and computers, as well as the shelves containing accessories. The technology will be used to improve the Apple customer shopping experience, and as a nice by-product, improve sales.
The technology will be used with an upcoming update to the Apple Store iPhone app. A customer will be able to walk up to a product and receive information and pricing about said product.
The technology could also be used to notify customers about upcoming workshops related to the product they are in proximity to. If a user walks by an iPad, they could receive a notification about an iPhoto workshop they could sign up for.
Select Apple Stores will be trying out the technology in the coming weeks. As the technology relies on the latest hardware, only users with devices running iOS 7 that support Bluetooth 4.0 technology will be able to participate. (Another selling point for purchasing a new iPhone?)
9to5Mac’s sources also report Apple is looking at other uses for iBeacon technology. It could also be used for locating customers waiting for a Genius Bar appointment, presenting advertising or deals related to nearby products, or even for purchasing products via the Apple Store application.
Apple is also said to be developing an indoor mapping feature for a future version of iOS. Via an updated Maps app, users could be aided in navigating through stores and buildings. Apple and Major League Baseball began testing iBeacons this past season to enhance the fan experience in ballparks around the league.