Low power bluetooth beacons and hands free payment and promotion with PayPal and Apple

Both PayPal and Apple have recently released their beacon products which could change the way we pay for goods in store. Beacons are essentially a software extension to Bluetooth 4 Low Energy (BLE) which now features as part of modern smartphone. In the past, Bluetooth has been used to connect mobile phones to things like headsets and car audio systems, with a reputation for hitting battery life hard. BLE is the next generation of Bluetooth that uses a tiny amount of power and can be turned on all the time with negligible effect on battery performance.

Retailers and developers now have the tools to solve challenges on both the merchant and consumer side. Creating a speedy checkout experience in store is a benefit for both store and customer alike.

Because beacons have a longer range than a technology like NFC, retailers can also build features into their mobile apps where when a customer has been browsing a specific product in the mobile app without purchasing and then enters a physical store, the app could identify a beacon in the store and a very targeted offer can be sent to the customer’s phone to encourage them to purchase that item during their visit.

Apple are working with Major League Baseball in the US to launch apps in 2014 that make use of beacons for digital marketing and digital ticketing.

Could this technology be a mobile game changer and what does this mean for the technically inferior NFC technology? Apple and Paypal have now placed their bets.

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