Eddystone beacons: Google's answer to iBeacons

Launched as an alternative to Apple's iBeacon technology, Google's Bluetooth-based tracking opens up new uses that just aren't possible with GPS and Wi-Fi.

Google is getting ready to roll out its own Bluetooth-based beacon technology, letting apps and web services pinpoint your exact location.

Dubbed Eddystone (apparently after a U.K. lighthouse), the project is a cross-platform answer to Apple's iBeacon technology that arrived in 2013. It allows small beacon devices to detect when a phone, smartwatch, or other Bluetooth-enabled device comes within close range, in turn triggering a specific action.

Google offers a few examples of how this might be useful: When you arrive at a bus stop, you might get a notification informing you of any delays, and when you sit down on your couch, your phone might instantly display what's on TV. A beacon-equipped cat collar could deliver the owner's contact information, and a restaurant could show you its menu as you walk by. Bluetooth beacons allow for much greater accuracy than Wi-Fi and GPS alone, locating devices that are as close as a few centimeters away.

Interoperability is Google's big selling point, especially when compared to Apple's iBeacon. Beacon manufacturers can add Eddystone support with just a firmware update, and app makers can use Google's Nearby API to send information to both iOS and Android devices. (Apple, meanwhile, has shut down at least one attempt to support iBeacon on Android devices.) Google is also looking to tie beacons into its experimental Physical Web project, so they can deliver information without a dedicated app.

Read more: How beacons and nearables are giving marketers new customer know-how
Woolworths plans national beacons rollout to improve click-and-collect customer service

It's early days for Eddystone, and for beacons in general, and it's unclear how much adoption we'll see in the real world. But for now, a handful of apps are already using the Nearby API to transmit infromation to other devices, and several beacon hardware manufacturers have pledged their support.

The story behind the story: In theory, beacons should play a huge role in the explosion of Internet of Things, with applications that extend to home automation, smart automobiles, wearables, and beyond. As an example, a smart home would become much more useful when the lights, door locks, and thermostat know exactly which rooms are occupied, but that type of fine-grained location detection is largely unavailable in current products. Through interoperability, Google is hoping it can finally push beacons into the mainstream.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Creating the ultimate customer-centric environment in 2018

All businesses today that are serious about being successful have adopted a customer-centric environment.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Embrace customer obsession to transform marketing into a catalyst for growth

In 2018, Forrester believes 20 per cent of CEOs globally will fail to act on digital transformation and put their firms at risk.

Michael Barnes

VP research director, Forrester

How challenger brands can win at biddable media

Challenger brands, especially in highly competitive markets, generally can’t match established players for media spend.

Chris Pittham

Managing director, Jaywing

While a lot has been said about AI and machine learning, I don't see it put to extensive use as yet. I will be happy to have it help the ...

Atul Dhakappa

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

Wowww! What A Awsome Blog! Thanks for this wonderful post I really got many valuable information through it. As a learner it's not so eas...

Mia Joseph

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

What you have said about AI, machine learning and voice activation is very true. Some of the other things we are already observing is the...

Atul Dhakappa

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

Yes, Digital Marketing now getting growth at the higher level. we can't predict today trends in the digital world. Nice stuff! Thanks for...

lorenso

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

I believe Digital Marketing is moving more toward social media and influential marketing. People are trying to grow their influence as in...

Rachel Kieran

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in