A Beacon Platform to Unite Them All

Why we believed in open source when no one else did.

This post is by Mateusz Wojcicki, Product Manager at BeaconControl. Find them on Twitter @beaconctrl.

Since its introduction in 2013, the world of beacon technology has been tough to crack. The use of tiny Bluetooth-enabled devices to enhance proximity experiences, while ambitious and promising, has developed into a fragmented reality — its potential for growth stunted by limited frameworks, poor user experiences and inaccessibility.

Sure, the idea of your smartphone letting you know your favorite drink is on sale as you walk past it at the grocery store is certainly exciting, and this is the reason why beacons are considered the fastest growing technology since mobile credit card readers. But beacon installations haven’t quite lived up to the hype in practice…yet. And that’s largely in part due to developers not having the resources to create the best experiences.

When we first heard about beacons at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in 2013, we were hooked. Our beacon tinkering first began with building a type of iBeacon hardware, and we even demoed it at the DLD Conference in Munich. Factory Coworking in Berlin gave us the go to implement our hardware in its workspace using an SaaS iBeacon platform.

But we soon ran into the inevitable mountain of issues. None of the iBeacon platforms made sense to us on a global scale. Anyone looking to deploy beacon hardware had two options: to build associated software from scratch while navigating technical hurdles, or choose an existing SaaS platform with limited features. Neither option was ideal. It pained us to see a technology with such enormous potential being rolled out without any clear path to scalability and optimal user experience.

Our team wasn’t about to let our beacon passion fade because of these roadblocks. We set out to build a platform that would allow developers the tools they needed to implement the best user experiences for beacons. After a lot of planning, hard work and collaboration, we created BeaconControl, the world’s first, free, open source software platform for proximity technology that gives developers a head start in creating incredible user experiences. With open source currently gaining momentum in various tech sectors, we knew this could be an important solution for the beacon world.

When we invited our developer friends to test the platform, they lit up with excitement. BeaconControl was soon demoed in retail, hospitality, and transportation scenarios — and the positive feedback kept coming. The technology felt right, since we were beginning to crack the beacon problem. We began implementing our ideas right away in one particular use case that excited us: coworking. In Factory Berlin, the sky was the limit for beacon technology. We tested BeaconControl for check-in, contextual content delivery, and much more.

We’ve now seen that BeaconControl allows developers and business owners to collaborate unlike ever before. Creating and implementing advanced IoT user experiences becomes a matter of dragging and dropping on the platform. In coworking, for example, we’re seeing some fantastic ways to update day-to-day operations: Member payments go through automatically in the background. Building floorplans are visualized interactively. Schedules, menus, availability, and contextual information pop up instantly in notifications on your smartphone, at just the right time. The technology is fully integrated into a user’s surroundings.

Our partnership with hardware provider Kontakt.io is allowing us to roll out this project at two incredible new spaces: Silicon Allee in Berlin, and NewLab in New York City. BeaconControl will be a backbone in these “technology enabled workspaces,” allowing for continual improvement of guests’ experiences in living and working.

Ultimately, our mission is to improve the use of beacons in all use cases — retail, coworking, transportation, you name it. But right now, we’re happy to invite everyone to tinker around with the platform, and experience our first implementations in coworking. The BeaconControl platform gives developers a great environment to focus on the good stuff: user experience and longevity. No more getting bogged down with low level issues. Instead, it’s creativity and progress.

We encourage everyone to drop us a line at feedback@beaconcontrol.io with any comments or questions. How would you like to see BeaconControl utilized?

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