Brave New World, here we come running into your arms with smartphones in hand, ready to be directed and interacted with whomever your beacon directs us. Qualcomm Retail Solutions has announced their new Gimbal Proximity Beacons are now ready for prime time to do battle with Apple's newly released iBeacon. The iBeacon will, of course, only operate with the iOS system iPhone, and even though the first Gimbal only works with iOS, they will quickly be coming out with an Android version.
Rocco Fabiano, president of Qualcomm Retail Solutions said in their press release:
"With the availability of Gimbal proximity beacons, we are empowering brands to take mobile engagement with their customers to a whole new level through micro-location. Gimbal – with its proximity beacons that use low-energy Bluetooth Smart – is the complete package. Given the affordable pricing of the beacons, retailers and venue operators can install a network for customer engagement that is both more accurate and less expensive than other location-based systems."
In other words, retailers will purchase these small boxes, called a Gimbal, and position them throughout their store. Using the new low-energy (LE) Bluetooth Smart, they will be able to sense when a smartphone is in the vicinity and send out either an ad, coupon, or simply information that is pertinent to where you are located in their facility. For instance, you walk by the perfumes counter and you may be offered an instant discount if you make a purchase, or it may send you out a message about a new product or fragrance. Qualcomm also claims that the offers will be guided toward the person's interests and not send them irrelevant offers – although they do not say exactly how this is done.
This sounds like something right up Google's alley and I am surprised they are not be jumping on this advertising bandwagon, maybe in the future. This type of sensor can be used in a variety of ways, not just in retailer's stores, but in museums or at sporting events – welcoming you back, offering discounts for something at the gift shop, on tickets, finding a parking spot, and so much more. Qualcomm is offering two versions of the Gimbal, and depending on the volume, will cost the retailer as little as $5 – $10 each.
Let us know in the comments or on Google+ what you think of this new way for retailers to communicate with their customers or visitors – are you in favor of this type of advertising or is this too much of an invasion on your smartphone or too much a drain on your battery having your Bluetooth turned on.