Beacons have the potential to radically change how we interact with physical stores, and Kontakt.io believes it has the best products to lead the charge. The company today unveiled its latest device called the Cloud Beacon, which comes with a crucial new feature: Wi-Fi connectivity.
Most Beacon-related technologies, such as Apple’s iBeacon, use Bluetooth Low Energy to trigger actions on a nearby device. So if you’re looking at a bicycle in your local store, standing near the handlebars could cause an expanded catalog to appear on your smartphone. Likewise, you might get a reminder from the PayPal app explaining that the retailer supports mobile payments.
Beacons also have the potential to track how customers are experiencing the store. This data can be used to improve the layout of a particular floor, or see which stands are failing to attract customers. Kontakt.io’s new Cloud Beacon can not only collect and record data, but also upload it to the Web over Wi-Fi. Furthermore, the small box can collect anonymous MAC addresses from customers that have Wi-Fi turned on, providing even deeper insights.
“Customer privacy is still assured, because the Cloud Beacon only monitors what an anonymous data point is doing, and does not identity the customer at any time,” the company explains.
“In our case, the beacons can only see where a particular MAC address is moving, and how long it stays in any location – it does not (and is not capable of) actually identifying anybody, because all the system sees is a series of numbers – and data attached to that number,” a spokesperson added.
If a store owner already uses Bluetooth-enabled Beacons, this new piece of hardware can also manage and update those units. All of the data that the Beacons collect, in addition to settings and configurations, are automatically backed up to Konakt.io’s servers and accessible through a Web Panel.
Each Cloud Beacon has a Wi-Fi range of up to 200 meters – a signal far stronger than Bluetooth – and can also be plugged into a standard power outlet. Better yet, the device has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to six years.
Kontakt.io already boasts an impressive portfolio of customers, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Nike and IBM. The Cloud Beacon is available for pre-order today and costs $79 per device, or $225 for three ($75 each). The first units will ship in October 2014, although Kotakt.io notes that only 10,000 will be available before January 2015. So if you’re interested, better act fast.