Monday, 12 May 2014

Nowhere To Hide!

Thanks to GPS, the apps on our phones have long been able to determine our location. This would have been a privacy breach 20 years ago and scared most users away from acceptance. And today, we are looking at technology so intelligent, that with enough precision, could influence your buying behaviour by tempting you with the right coupons depending on whether you were hovering near the white bread or the multigrain! Whilst this may sound far-fetched, there’s a good chance the technology is already built into your iPhone or Android device. All it takes is for retailers to tap into it are small, inexpensive transmitters called beacons. Confused? Using Bluetooth technology, handsets can pinpoint their position to within as little as 2 cm by receiving signals from the beacons stores install (similar to how investigators track a black box from a plane wreckage). Apple’s version of the concept is called iBeacon; it’s in use at its own stores and is being tested by Macy’s, American Eagle and Woolworths (to name a few). Companies can use your location to pelt you with special offers or simply monitor your movements. But just as with GPS, they won’t see you unless you’ve installed their apps and granted them access. By melding your own physical potion with facts they’ve already collected about you from reward programs, retail businesses can finally re-gain their profitable competitive advantage from e-commerce businesses who typically take this technology for granted. The possibilities extend well beyond coupons. Pay-Pal is readying a beacon that will let consumers pay for goods without swiping a card or removing a phone from their pocket. Doug Thompson predicts that people won’t even know that these beacons are there. They’ll just know their app has suddenly become smarter. Some examples: Line hints at sporting stadiums: When you step away to buy your Four ‘n’ Twenty meat pie or 4 pack of drinks, an app directs you to the closest concession stand with the shortest line. Instant coupons in department stores: linger in the jewellery department without buying anything and a coupon will pop up onto your phone. Tempting much? Deeper context at museums and galleries: An app that tells you historical information about each piece of art as you walk through the room. Reminders at grocery stores: Heading out to buy milk and return home realising you’ve bought everything but milk? How about an app reminds you of each item on your list when you’re in the right aisle so you don’t forget to pick it up.

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