Teck Know: Estimote mobile app

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Bluetooth low energy allows for contextual proximity shopping in a way NFC cannot match, Marcus Kirsch writes.

Near field communication might have just been sidelined as tomorrow’s high-street marketing solution. Android’s favourite solution for contextual proximity shopping has more than a strong competitor in Bluetooth low energy, Apple’s weapon of choice.

Both need a mobile reader app to work. For NFC, the tags are less than 50p; it’s about £10 for a BLE module, but it works from a few feet away so the consumer can still be notified of offers when passing a shop. The NFC tag needs to be tapped by the mobile device to achieve the same thing.

So another Betamax v VHS battle in progress? Maybe not any more.

Google has just moved to fully support BLE on its new Android operating system. BLE has also become an early standard to connect "internet of things" devices, so it will become cheaper through increasing demand.

Why is this important? The reason QR codes became so popular in the West was that they were a great success in Japan. In Japan, they were a great success some ten years ago because every mobile had a QR code reader. This has just happened to our markets, with BLE on every device.

Enter Estimote, a low-cost advertising device for high-street shops. It can be attached outside or in-store to deliver offers to customers using its mobile app. Estimote is as flexible as the software it runs and not the first example of how tomorrow’s high street will look like. PayPal announced its Beacon project to deliver contactless payments using BLE for next year.

Personalised, affordable, in the consumer’s palm and relevant through contextual proximity shopping.

Marcus Kirsch is the innovation director at Rapp UK

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