Top Beacon Applications and Use Cases: Home, Retail, Events, Travel, and Payments

September 1, 2014

Since its arrival on iOS 7 last fall iBeacon technology has continued to disrupt the mobile world and evolve new interactions between entrepreneurs and consumers. It has given birth to such successful beacon projects like Estimote, Kontakt, Gelo. A lot of brands and retailers are also in a game and bring beacons to their businesses.

Below we have gathered the most recent beacon use cases that describe the wide range of its uses and give the understanding of how it can work for you.

Smart home and context aware apps

Smart is the new sexy. Starting on phones, then through TV, smart technologies are striding across the planet, reaching you in your cars and while you’re comfortably sitting in your home.

With Beacon technology you can “talk” to your home though many tasks that can be automated based on proximity.

Airfy Beacon is a Kickstarter project that was successfully funded about a week ago. It’s main goal is to combine Philips Hue™, Nest™ and IFTTT using beacons and special app so your home will understand you “from the first word”.

“You wake up in the morning and pick up your phone. Suddenly, your apartment knows you’re awake. It slowly turns on the lights. Your favorite morning music starts piping in. It starts heating the water for your shower.” – can be a good addition to a Stepford Wife.

You can build your own context aware apps with the help of the beacon, Stickers from Estimote, the pioneering gadget in a coming wave of “Nearable” tech. Accelerometer and temperature sensors integrated into devices allow you to do more than most beacons.

Retail and proximity marketing

An increasing number of retailers and other brands are using new “beacon” technology to track consumers to within several inches of their locations in stores in order to push promotions and encourage spending.

Duane Reade, a subsidiary of the Walgreen Company, uses Apple’s iBeacon geo-fencing to activate an app on the phone of a nearby shopper, who then receives everything from coupon offers to help finding a product.

Duane Reade has touched on a variety of ways that they plan to incorporate BLE tech into their shoppers’ experiences, including:

  • Sending users notifications on their lock screen.
  • Sending coupons to users based on their proximity to store and their purchase history.
  • Providing users with a floor map of their store and a product locator function, so users can use the app to find products in store.

The company also hopes that tracking user movement in stores and tying it to purchase history will reveal new insights into customer activity and preferences.

Safeway has been testing an iBeacon installation that automatically offers discounts to shoppers who have downloaded the supermarket chain’s “just for U” loyalty app at the exact moment when consumers have walked into the store and are ready to shop.

Similarly, Ray Ban has launched a program to fit its New York stores with iBeacons that deliver beacon-triggered messages to the customers’ smartphones when they walk by a Ray Ban sunglasses store in New York City. This notification addresses customers by name and offers them a discount on a purchase if they come into the store.

Event venues

The event industry does not lag behind the rest and continues to improve attendee experience.

A few days ago ATIV Software announced the company is adding Beacon technology to its award-winning conference app EventPilot so interactivity and engagement with the app during events is going to increase.

“We are excited to be providing this cutting-edge technology in our conference apps to enhance the attendee experience at congresses and meetings in completely new ways,” – Eric Converse, CTO and Co-Founder of ATIV Software. “Delegates can now receive notifications that are highly relevant and based on their indoor location at the conference. It’s the next wave of event technology in the meetings industry.”

In the number of Beacon adoptors is also Stanford Medicine X conference that in conjunction with this year’s event will release the Medicene X mobile app with which conference participants will be able to “provide feedback about the conference and rate speakers in real time. They can also use the system to communicate directly with Medicine X staff members and request items, such as a blanket or water.”

49ers Levi’s Stadium is the most high-tech venue yet! In addition to 680 Wi-Fi access points and 12,000 Ethernet ports Levi’s Stadium also has about 1,700 beacons to provide attendees with helpful, targeted information, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The NFL installed beacons at MetLife Stadium and Times Square during the Super Bowl. They used beacons to trigger custom messages and advertisements via the NFL mobile app. Major League Baseball (MLB) also partnered with Qualcomm to install beacons in 20 ballparks before the start of the 2014 season to drive food and merchandise sales.


Virgin Atlantic announced their partnership with Estimote to start incorporating BLE technology into their terminal in London’s Heathrow airport.

Virgin has provided two examples of how they are using this tech: pinging flyers’ phones to bring up their boarding passes as they walk through a security checkpoint, and offering flyers discounts at MoneyCorp currency exchange counters as they walk by one.


Beacons can trigger an action in any type of mobile app so they could be used to conduct hands-free payment transactions. PayPal is testing a beacon right now.

“We are hearing from consumers that it’s faster than a credit card, quicker than NFC, and is more accurate and uses less battery than GPS, and it works across multiple platforms, so it’s inclusive,” said Matt Gromada, head of global product launch management at PayPal.

Here’s how PayPal’s system would work: A customer walks into a store and the beacon wakes up the PayPal app on the shopper’s phone. The app sends an encrypted key to the cloud, and the person’s payment information and photo is sent to in-store displays. All the customer has to do is tell the cashier that they are paying with PayPal and then they can identify the customer by his or her photo and charge the PayPal account based on the items purchased.

It was only a small fraction of Beacon use cases which helped to improve and enrich interaction with customers, but as I said before it has no limits so a pinch of your imagination and entrepreneurial spirit can bring a real benefit to your business.

Feel free to reach out to us to discuss your beacon-related apps ideas! 🙂