Beacons are small, often inexpensive devices that enable more accurate location within a narrow range than GPS, cell tower triangulation and Wi-Fi proximity. Beacons transmit small amounts of data via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) up to 50 meters, and as a result are often used for indoor location technology, although beacons can be used outside as well.
Beacons are typically powered by small batteries, but they can be plugged into an outlet or USB port instead to maintain consistent power. In addition to standalone beacon devices, mobile phones, tablets and PCs with BLE support can all function as beacons, with the ability to both emit and receive beacon signals.
Privacy Concerns and Examples of Beacon Use
In terms of privacy concerns, beacons can only be used as a form of voluntary communication between whoever owns the beacon and the owner of a receiving smartphone or similar mobile device. The beacon communication frequently relies on an app, especially in the case of retail marketing via beacons.
As an example of how beacons can be used, when a customer is in a store a beacon in that location can communicate with the store's app on the customer's phone to display special offers or additional information for specific products or services the company is currently offering.
Apple currently uses iBeacons in its stores, Facebook has started offering "Place Tips" to users that rely on beacons in various spots in New York City, and enterprises are beginning to add beacons to help improve workplace efficiency and increase productivity.
Beacons in Satellite Communications
The use of the term beacon in satellite communications can instead refer to a tracking device used by control engineers on the ground to monitor the satellite.
IT Solutions Builder TOP IT RESOURCES TO MOVE YOUR BUSINESS FORWARD
Which topic are you interested in?
What is your company size?
What is your job title?
What is your job function?
Searching our resource database to find your matches...
Stay up to date on the latest developments in Internet terminology with a free weekly newsletter from Webopedia. Join to subscribe now.
The following facts and statistics capture the changing landscape of cloud computing and how service providers and customers are keeping up with... Read More »Facts about Computer Science: Education and Jobs
The following computer science facts and statistics provide a quick introduction to the changing trends in education and related careers. Read More »Texting & Chat Abbreviations
From A3 to ZZZ this guide lists 1,500 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Read More »
Learn about each of the five generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that we use... Read More »Computer Architecture Study Guide
Computer architecture provides an introduction to system design basics for most computer science students. Read More »Network Fundamentals Study Guide
Networking fundamentals teaches the building blocks of modern network design. Learn different types of networks, concepts, architecture and... Read More »