Bluetooth (and wifi) beaconing systems are a dime-a-dozen these days. While Apple's iBeacon has certainly captured the lion's share of attention (and probably installations, too), there are dozens if not hundreds of off-the-shelf, open source and bespoke solutions to let users broadcast their messages to nearby devices. Still, for even all of the hype and marketing muscle that Apple brings to the party, it's hard to find solid evidence of the systems being used (or useful) in the real world. Deployed? Sure. But beneficial? The jury is still very much out on that subject.


For that lack of data, though, there's still plenty of excitement in the beaconing arena, and now Google's throwing their hat into the ring with a new platform called Eddystone. With a focus on making a lingua franca for BLE beacons to speak, Google's open technology aims to engage developers building new platforms as well as end-users looking for enhanced functionality (and, presumably, a non-Apple ecosystem).

eddystone

 

Of course, Google being Google, they're also planning for the option of deep integration with other Google services, and presumably at some point if this thing takes off there will be an AdWords-style buying platform for advertisers looking to deploy truly location-specific messaging.

From an IoT perspective, it seems like many manufacturers interested in integrating beaconing technology would be more likely to jump on the Eddystone bandwagon than opt for a smaller company's offering, and many will appreciate the degree of openness compared to iBeacon. However, Google does have a pretty strong history of abandoning projects that aren't performing, so there's always the chance that early adopters will see the project get orphaned even if it does get some traction in certain sectors. The ability to fork and continue using an open platform lessens the danger somewhat, but obviously utilizing a tech juggernaut's complex platform and having to maintain it yourself are two entirely different propositions.

Having looked into the specification, I actually think that Eddystone has legs. Implementation is straightforward, and there are a decent number of use cases that could make BLE beaconing actually take off as a useful and beneficial system for both communications and transactions. And obviously for any companies already invested in the Google ecosystem, theres a decently-strong upside potential already built in.




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