Bluetooth beacons have been deployed in consumer facing situations, however, the technology has many more potential applications throughout a wide range of business operations. While people have been focusing on consumer applications until now, the potential returns on an investment from deploying beacons throughout the supply chain in order to track assets is definitely worth investigating.
One company who is leading the way in this area is Zebra Technologies. The company has recently become one of the world’s biggest RFID technologists, having bought over part of Motorola Solutions’ enterprise business. Zebra is currently working towards more deployments of beacons in business settings. The manufacturers of beacons are attempting to integrate a larger variety of sensors into their beacon systems so that they can be applied to supply chain operations. One of the most promising sensors to be fitted is a thermostat, which could be deployed in vehicles used to transport perishable goods to monitor the temperature of containers and alert the driver if there are any problems.
At the end of 2013, Zebra announced that they were developing an Internet of Things platform called Zatar, which is intended for companies to manage their RFID readers and devices from a remote location. The product was demonstrated at the IoT World Forum when the company made it apparent that Zatar could serve enterprise customers in a number of ways, for example, wine sellers could be able to watch the condition of their products by applying a variety of RFID tags and beacons to individual bottles and in their storage units.
Zebra is also seeking to apply their technologies in the health care industry and are currently running a pilot. The intention is to help quantify emergency services more effectively. For example, if an ambulance is sent to collect someone suffering from cardiac arrest, that patient can be tagged with a beacon via a wristband, which will communicate a unique identifier to a gateway located in the ambulance. The gateway will collect timestamps to inform health workers about how much time has elapsed since the patient was picked up. Once in the hospital this tracking continues and a treatment timeline is created.
With prospective applications like these, the development of beacon technology is certainly worth investing in, and the benefits for enterprises in general could be great.