Apple and Disney Stores upgrading iBeacons and NFC scanners ahead of iPhone 6 launch

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Apple and longtime partner Disney this week are bolstering their stores with upgraded versions of iBeacon sensors and NFC readers, according to sources. Apple Stores have had iBeacons stationed throughout showroom floors for several months as a way to pinpoint exactly where a customer is within the store. This allows Apple to better serve customers by providing relevant sales information to their iPhones and iPads while in the store. The upgrades happening this week within Apple Stores place several new Gimbal Series 20 Proximity Beacons across stores to make location tracking within the store even more accurate.

In addition to providing relevant information for the Apple Store app, iBeacons can be useful for NFC mobile payment technologies as a form of authentication. If Apple knows where a customer is in the store to a precise degree, it can ensure that is it wirelessly connecting to the correct iPhone for mobile payments. As has been widely reported, the new iPhone 6 and upcoming Apple wearable device will include new wireless sensors (including a near field communication chipset) to conduct mobile payments with credit cards stored in an upgraded Passbook application.

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Condé Nast’s Epicurious teams up w/ Swirl for in-store iBeacon experience

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After announcing it would take advantage of iBeacons deployed by inMarket in grocery stores back in April, today Condé Nast’s Epicurious is announcing a partnership with another iBeacon network to further expand the context-sensitive notifications beamed to its users. Swirl, the same company behind recent beacon deployments in Hudson’s Bay Company and Lord & Taylor, will now deliver location-aware notifications to the Epicurious app via its network of beacons already deployed in retailers:

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Hudson’s Bay Company deploys iBeacon experience in The Bay and Lord & Taylor stores

It’s not the first department store with plans for iBeacons, but it’s certainly one of the biggest we’ve seen yet deploying the Bluetooth LE beacons that send shoppers location-aware, targeted notifications. Today Hudson’s Bay Company announced that it’s rolling out an iBeacon shopping experience in some of its 130 The Bay and Lord & Taylor department store locations across the US and Canada. Read more

Hillshire increases sales w/ iBeacon, 20x increase in purchase intent, 500x increase over average mobile ads

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With more and more retailers, event spaces, and others deploying Apple’s Bluetooth LE iBeacon technology in order to beam iPhone and iPad users context and location aware notifications, we still haven’t seen much data on how the beacons are improving ad engagement for marketers. InMarket, a company installing iBeacons in grocery stores around the country that talk to a number of apps from its advertising partners, today shared some of the first stats from a specific consumer brand using the platform.  Read more

Estimote introduces iBeacon power management tools for extending battery life

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Estimote, the company behind the iBeacons I tested in my Launch Center Pro 2.3 coverage and used by easyJet in select European airports, is introducing a round of improvements to its beacon product line and corresponding software today. The primary focus of the improvements deals with power management and how Estimote’s iBeacons consume battery. In short, Estimote’s iBeacons are getting smarter about how they connect and stay powered by adding two beacon power modes including Basic and Smart…

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Hundreds of businesses in London are about to flip the switch on payments via iBeacons

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In Brixton, South West London, hundreds of businesses will soon integrate iBeacons as part of one of the first real-world networks for mobile payments using Apple’s Bluetooth LE iBeacon tech

In Brixton, businesses introduced a local currency in 2009 that eventually switched from paper into mobile payments by text. Around 250 businesses in the area accept the currency, which is meant to keep the money in the community and support smaller independent local businesses. By the starting of next month, the currency will have its own mobile app called Brixton Pound, and iBeacons will make it easy to automatically prompt users for payments. The Brixton Pound organization teamed up with Dingo for the payment solution and kontakt.io for the iBeacon hardware and integration: Read more

iBeacons in retail stores blowing up app usage, ad engagement

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One of the big debates regarding iBeacons, the tech that allows iOS apps to receive location-aware notifications over Bluetooth LE, is whether or not the experience will become intrusive for users. Imagine having your local grocery store’s app installed. Once the store has installed a few beacons, you could soon find yourself overcome with notifications as you walk around without ever even opening the app. You run the risk of users getting frustrated and potentially avoiding or deleting the app entirely. However, that hasn’t been the case when it comes to the iBeacons installed by inMarket in grocery stores across the country. It tells us app and ad engagement has skyrocketed since rolling out the platform: Read more

Apple taps into M7 & motion sensors for indoor positioning in iOS 8, signing up venues to contribute

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In iOS 8, Apple is adding some new Core Location features that let app developers get precise indoor positioning data from an iOS device’s sensors and it’s even letting venues contribute by signing-up to get help enabling indoor positioning. We first exclusively detailed the new feature last year, which taps into the iPhone’s M7 processor and uses WiFi technologies to provide extremely accurate indoor mapping and navigation features to developers.  Read more

Apple discussing iPhone payments service with high-profile retail brands

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Apple wants to replace yet another daily tool with your iPhone: your wallet.

Executives from the Cupertino-based technology company have begun discussions with directors from retail store chains about a mobile payments service, according to a source with direct knowledge of the talks. Previous reports indicated that Apple is exploring new payments services through discussions with executives from existing payments companies. These latest mobile payments-related discussions, which have occurred with retail store brands such as those that sell luxury clothing and premium goods, have taken place over the past couple of months, according to the source. The source declined to be named and requested that the identities of the companies talking to Apple not be published.

The Apple mobile payments service would be integrated into iOS Devices such as the iPhone and would be a comprehensive solution that would allow an iPhone user to leverage their device as a form of payment in retail stores. Based on information from various people briefed on the matter, the service would tie directly to iTunes accounts. Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue noted last night that Apple has 800 million iTunes accounts with credit cards, and that this arsenal opens up the door for many future products and services. Apple CEO Tim Cook previously hinted that the iPhone’s Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor could someday be leveraged for mobile payment purposes beyond the existing iTunes and App Stores…

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GE integrates iBeacons in new LED lighting fixtures rolling out in Walmart & other retailers

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Up until now most retailers have been deploying Apple’s iBeacon technology by purchasing small standalone Bluetooth beacons or using iPad terminals that act as beacons. Now, GE is introducing its next-generation LED light fixture that packs in a combo Bluetooth LE/Visual Light Communication chip for iBeacon functionality allowing retailers to cut costs and avoid purchasing standalone beacons from a company like Estimote. It’s already got one massive customer about to roll out the iBeacon lighting fixtures: Walmart announced back in April (before iBeacon support was announced) that it plans to roll out these same new GE lighting fixtures to stores worldwide as part of its switch to LED. Read more

Bubble app lets you discover real world items linked to the web w/ iBeacons

Bubble, a new app launching this week, is about to make it super easy for anyone to link real world items to websites using Apple’s new iBeacon Bluetooth LE technology. Up until now retailers, event planners, and more have been using iBeacons in order to send relevant notifications to users in proximity, but that required users to actually have that specific retailer’s app installed. Bubble, on the other hand, acts as an iBeacon browser of sorts allowing users to discover web content as they come in contact with real world items.  Read more