Beacon Technology Introduces New Ways For Customer Interaction

By Benjamin Horvath

Wireless technology has enabled previously unthought-of ways for businesses to interact with their customers. Cell technology, combined with the ubiquity of personal Smartphones, has enabled a more direct, personable interaction between these two parties. But the latest stage of innovation—beacon technology—has created an even more precise way for businesses to tailor their interactions with consumers.

Beacon networks leverage Bluetooth technology, which relative to RF frequency emits a very weak signal. This weak signal, however, enables beacons to be extremely precise in where and when consumers receive this emitted signal.

Radius Networks, a beacon solutions technology firm based in Washington D.C., helps businesses deploy beacon networks within their facilities, which enables businesses to interact with consumers, via their Smartphones, while in specific locations. The company’s largest customers include professional sports teams, such as the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Redskins.

“If you go into the Verizon Center [the home of the Wizards and Capitals], there are a series of small beacons inside and around the outside of the venue,” says Marc Wallace, co-founder and CEO of the company.       

Wallace offers examples of how precise this technology is.

“Let’s say you’re sitting in the 400 level [of the Verizon Center], we can enable a message to be sent to that area of the arena that says there are seats available in the 100 level of the arena,” Wallace says. “Only the 400 level, not the 100 level, would receive that message.”

In addition to sporting events, Wallace says the company provides solutions for many other types of companies—the largest being quick service and fast food restaurants, as well as stores or malls who use digital displays. At a restaurant, for example, beacon devices can enable the customer to order through their Smartphone, and the beacon technology is precise enough for the restaurant workers to know exactly which seat ordered.

“We can be much more accurate than cell technology and engage the customer exactly where you [the business] want to engage them,” said Wallace.

The localized beacon network also acts as a bridge between the Bluetooth network and the larger cellular network, created by DAS systems and macro cells nearby the venue. For example, if a sports team wants to promote a certain player’s jersey on its team website, the beacon network links the localized network with the broader cell network, where fans can purchase the jersey.

“We’re basically complementing the DAS and small cell networks within a certain coverage area,” Wallace says. “We’re facilitating the interaction between the customer and the network.”

Typically, beacon technology has been associated with sales and marketing efforts, but Wallace says Radius Networks instead views itself as a company who specializes in enhancing the consumer experience. At a sporting event, for instance, the consumer has already purchased a ticket to the event prior to his interaction with the beacon network.

“We think about [beacon technology] as a method to engage the customer in different ways and enhance the customer experience,” Wallace says.

Radius Networks has established a strong presence in the Washington, D.C. area. In addition to this area, however, it has serviced clients across the nation, including the Denver Broncos home field, Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The company has also built beacon networks in numerous locations in Europe.

For more information on Radius Networks, please visit its website: http://www.radiusnetworks.com/

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