Is there any doubt that Bluetooth has become a sort of technical standard since its introduction almost a decade ago? Now, it’s low energy (BLE) evolution is making new waves after being added to the latest iPhone models, heralded as the iBeacon, a new innovation Apple hopes will trump near-field communication. As we are always curious about the cutting-edge, Untold Labs and its teams decided to do a little more research on the marketing possibilities and challenges of the wireless system that’s been touted as having ideal sensors for people on the move. Our ideas are a little wild, but what else would you expect from us?
Retail and fitness
Bluetooth is not new to the fitness industry. And because of their relatively small size and low cost, BLE devices can be easily imbedded into fitness equipment such as football pads, soccer cleats and even baseballs. There is no limit to the possibilities of fitness tracking and data harvesting that could come from collecting such information on players throughout a game or practice and using that information to support training efforts and improve performance.
Bluetooth LE also has real retail opportunities. Adult beverage industry leaders consistently strive to provide the coldest beer but what if your coozie actually told you the real-time temperature of your frothy treat? Temperature and humidity sensors could also provide useful information for produce, deli and bakery shop owners. When embedded into an insulated shopping bag, shoppers can tell whether the frozen goods in the back of the car are staying cool enough to make one more stop on the way home.
Event and entertainment
Bluetooth LE has alot of the potential in the “Event and Experiential” industries, and the big names are already capitalizing on it. Disney has been using it to track wait times and popularity of rides, and live music lighting designers have been using it to crowd-source their designs, turning thousands of tiny phones into virtual “jumbotrons”. One of the most promising implementations of Bluetooth LE is that of iBeacon. Being strongly supported by Apple, iBeacon hopes to make mobile notifications a integral part of live events. Currently being tested in sporting arenas around the country, iBeacon could help direct you to the concession stand, alert you that fresh pretzels were just made in section C7, and update you that the home team has just scored while you were searching for munchies.
There was, however, one major caveat we found with Bluetooth LE. The end user still has to download an app in order to connect, which means you still face a large barrier to entry. Historically, making your users jump through hoops to get to the content they want is a BAD thing (think QR codes), but Bluetooth still has many redeeming qualities. Its long range and crazy fast response time make it an ideal soloution for live events and experiences, and the low power usage means you can think way outside of the box for applications. Bluetooth LE is very promising piece if tech that I expect to see all over the place in the coming years
Marine and automotive
Bluetooth has become very popular in the marine and automotive industries powering everything from car stereos to hands-free devices. Automakers however haven’t integrated Bluetooth LE into many of their new products.
Ford has been rumored to be exploring Bluetooth LE possibilities such as tracking a driver’s vital signs by way of body sensors which could help cut down on traffic fatalities. Find My Car Smarter is a mobile phone app that takes locating your car to the next level. Instead of setting your car’s location via GPS your phone can now communicate with a sensor plugged into your car via Bluetooth LE for the exact location.
The applications for Bluetooth LE in the marine/automotive industry will only continue to expand as almost every function in a car is controlled through a sensor. From improving an engine’s performance to improving the comfort of passengers and even security. Imagine a Bluetooth LE sensor in your car door that automatically recognizes certain phones pre-approved to enter the vehicle.