There's a lot of buzz about iBeacons in the event industry, and for good reason. iBeacon's revolutionary concept is a pioneering option in the industry, however, iBeacons do have limitations and not all devices are created equal. Despite its many strengths, iBeacons communicate in only one direction. In contrast, some digital badges on the market utilize a bi-directional beacon, and the distinction between the two is very distinct.
Here’s a crash course education on the difference between the two technologies:iBeacons work by sending random unique identification codes (UID) in a single direction. Once a phone collects the UID, it requires either cell service or Wi-Fi to process the data packet and send a directed message back to the user’s phone. A byproduct of this one-way communication is that actual information about the user is inaccessible to the iBeacon. As a result, advertising efforts are relatively blind, and iBeacon is unable to collect live-time information about who receives a marketer’s targeted messaging. This technology model is widespread with many beacon systems leveraging iBeacon infrastructure or mimicking the same Apple-created architecture.
Bi-directional technology is different. Communication is not one-sided; the beacon fosters actual conversation. For example, the beacon inside LOOPD digital badge technology can receive information and advertise simultaneously. The difference? It’s like a flat, two-dimensional view of the world being transformed in a three-dimensional reality of texture and depth. Bi-directional beacons exponentially enhance ability.
Bi-directionality enables better and smarter advertising that is targeted rather than scattershot. When used in digital badging platforms, it gives marketers the ability to identify specific recipients of their advertisements and then transforms how they interact with these prospects as a result.
The advertising advantages of bi-directional beacons even extend beyond the targeted user. Through mesh network leveraging, marketers can learn about second and third degree connections of the targeted user who receives their personalized and directed content. Corresponding reporting platforms enable marketers to identify specific trends about potential leads and send optimized content to them, cultivating and capitalizing on inbound opportunities. Like a knowledgeable wingman on a date or opposition research in a political campaign, enhanced information breeds increased opportunity.
The LOOPD beacon system is a step ahead of traditional systems, allowing every beacon to turn into a centralized node that is part of a vast mesh network. In contrast, iBeacons work off a controlled system created by Apple. It must operate in the confines dictated by Apple and adhere to strict regulations, including the number of devices that can be connected to each other as well as limitations on the transferred data. LOOPD has the ability to connect up to 1,000 devices at any given moment and the intelligence to send and process real content such as documents and presentations, instead of just a string of unintelligible numbers like iBeacons.
iBeacons have ever-expanding capabilities and are an integral part of the modern networking and marketing experience. While one-direction communication is useful, two-direction communication is vital. So, while the iBeacon is good, bi-directional beacons are better.