The public announcement this past week of Wi-Fi Aware technology has been met by much confusion in the retail space. We hoped to create an impartial cliff notes of the technology, its potential use cases and potential pit falls.
At Presence Orb we are constantly reviewing new technoologies, standards, data sources and feeds as they become available. We do this in order to evaluate their possible uses and value in the retail space. We have been following one such standard with great interest over the past 12 months, that standard being Wi-Fi aware.
For those of you unfamiliar with the name Wi-Fi Aware is a standard lead by the Wi-Fi aliance allowing wireless networks to create more powerful proximity experiences for consumers as they walk around their daily lives. Having read that you may be thinking "But isn't that iBeacons?" and you would be right, iBeacons too where produced with the intention of exposing proximity based experiences while in store to the masses, however iBeacons rely upon additional hardware being placed in store, a physical beacon device which can broadcast it's message to the listening ear of Bluetooth enabled devices. This is where Wi-Fi aware steps in.
With Wi-Fi aware retailers no longer need to install new or additional hardware to receive a similar result to that of iBeacons, by sweating current Wi-Fi networks all be it no doubt with updated firmware the retailer can suddenly begin reaping the same marketing benefits to that promised by the bluetooth equivalent. Whats more Wi-Fi aware is by design bi-directional communication allowing for the access point and consumer device to "chat" a much more appealing and robust solution to that offered by the traditionally omni directional iBeacon.
So the question becomes why bother with iBeacons at all? Well iBeacons have their place too. The relative low cost of beacons compared to that of access points allows for a far more liberal opportunity to spread the devices leading to potentially higher accuracy and the first mover advantage is such that we are far more likely to see beacon uptake before the Wi-Fi aware devices start making it to the shelves later this year.
If you would like to learn more about iBeacons, WiFi Aware or Retail Analytics please get in touch via the Contact Us link above. We are more than happy to chat about how Presence Orb can help retailers large and small to uncover the hidden retail gold mine within their physical stores.