Tech Talk: Beacon Technology

(WTNH)– There’s a new technology out there that you will be hearing a lot about over the coming months. It sends a wireless signal to your cell phone and provides you with push notifications about things happening around you.

Keith Atchinson, FUSION Interactive Group joined GMCT to explain why it’s being used.


Facebook is leading the way with open location based advertising in the beacon arena. Using Place Tips, a feature in the current Facebook app, Facebook is running a test with 8 Manhattan shops that will send information about those shops right to the newsfeed of nearby users of the FB app.

And privacy shouldn’t be an issue as Place Tips is a feature that can be turned on or off and you can even choose which stores you receive Place Tips from. This is a dream scenario for your favorite stores to offer discounts, coupons or promotions in an extremely timely fashion right to your phone.

Here are a few other ways that Beacon technology is already being used.


Virgin Atlantic ran a Beacon test last year in Heathrow Airport in London. When Virgin Atlantic passengers passed through security and started heading toward their gate for departure, the VA app automatically pulled up their mobile boarding pass to show to the flight attendant at the gate.


Beacon technology is providing new opportunities for providers to connect with patients. Have you ever gone to a hospital for an appointment and not know where you are going or which hallway or elevator to take to get to your physician? Beacons are helping patients find their way to their healthcare provider and taking the stress out of navigating from the parking lot to the doctor having the patient stop at the appropriate locations along the way (registration, admission, lab, etc…).

If your doctor is running late with appointments, a push notification can be sent to a patient directing them to the food court or café for a free coffee while they wait AND notify the patient to come to the doctor’s office when the schedule has caught up again.

The Bluetooth transmitters look for signals from mobile apps that are loaded on your phone and respond accordingly when you come in to range. This is similar to the way a GPS would work but can pinpoint your location and are primarily for indoor mapping which GPS technology isn’t good with.

This is obviously VERY big for retailers. For example, if you are walking through a department store like Macy’s and you stop to look at a display or an outfit on a mannequin, you could have information, video or coupon promotions pushed to you about that very outfit via your cell phone from Beacon technology that is placed within that display if you are running the app that the Beacon technology is built in to.

In Sweden, Unilever recently ran a soup promotion where people who tried samples of a Knorr soup at a food truck were pushed a coupon for a free can of soup through the local newspaper’s app.


A number of museums in Cleveland, San Francisco and New York are testing out Beacon technology to lend a digital experience to their current exhibits. As you near a specific piece or exhibit, the Beacon technology pushes additional information about the exhibit to lend a more engaging and interactive element to improve the visitor experience. The technology can also act as a virtual tour guide to the visitors and help the museum’s administrative staff somewhat control the flow of traffic from exhibit to exhibit through the museum.

The Barclay’s Arena in Brooklyn, NY is using Beacon technology to enhance the customer experience during sports and entertainment events. They are able to provide digital event programs to the customer’s phone once they pass the ticket check-in point, suggest seat upgrades to fans who enter the upper concourse, push videos from athletes and entertainers or food coupons direct to fans and even tell the fans where to find the restrooms, first aid center or those hard-to-find foot items and specialty kiosks.

A number of teams in the NBA have adopted the technology and the NFL and Major League Baseball teams also tried it out this last season.

If you want to connect with us to Talk Tech, use our newly created hashtag, #CTTechTalk or direct message Keith Atchinson, @katchinson, or Chris Velardi, @cvelardi on Twitter.

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