Location-based app have emerged as a new entrants in the mobile apps crowd. The location-based tools are not only making their presence stronger in the outdoor location technology but have become favourite with the indoor location technology too. The location based technology have proved to be really vital for the business and with as good technologies as iBeacon, Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities it’s quite difficult to choose amongst the three, what will suit the best for a particular business.
It is not an easy task to select one technology from amongst the three efficient ones to fit a business, but yes a combination of two or more can elevate the desirability of the technology. It’s discernible that every technology comes with pros and cons effect and can’t satisfy every single aspect.
Let’s understand what a technology is capable of and what the others can add to make it perfect for a business, whether it’s for customer support, navigation improvement or overall business enhancements. Whatever technology you opt for the three basic things that you need are –transmitter (one who sends), receiver (one who receives the message) and data service (medium).
Let’s check out the basic aspects of these three indoor location technologies:-
It is defined as the ability to be accessed by the customers or the business.
Pros: They work by signal transmitters that are powered by batteries and thus easily configured in the mobile apps. This makes them highly portable and expandable. Here the receivers are the smartphones so with the smartphone being widely used they are one of the sought after indoor location technology.
Cons: They need to be installed (only once). Business can go for the beacon management platform to be exactly notified when the battery need to be changed and now that you don’t need an app to detect which battery needs replacement you save a lot of time.
Pros: it’s a powerful location technology that was developed on RFID technology in the 80s and it is used because of the convenience to use, a secure channel of communication and versatility.
Cons: Planning to deploy NFC for a business need a good investment and with the components as tag, readers and readers control, it brings with it a kind of load. Also turning the smartphone into reader is not an innate capability of every mobile phone.
Pros: A highly accessible technology that provides satellite tracking is used in the commercial and personal application. The use of GPS for one business is different from the others and so are the benefits.
Cons: GPS takes a lot of fuel in the form of the battery life and constantly using it would drain the battery very soon. So using GPS continuously is definitely not a good solution.
The distance travelled by a signal is the range and this depends on the configuration, power setting and environment where it is set up. The tolerance for any signal in a given environment is called the accuracy.
Pros: A typical range of a beacon will be 1 m to 70 m depending on the location and placement. More the obstructions weaker the range!
Cons: As beacons work on the radio signal, which are absorbed by different media (air, water, human body) the odds of interference increases. Also, with beacon it is like- higher the broadcasting signal power greater the range at which mobile picks the signal and convert into information, but beware it can lead to early battery discharge.
Pros: The connectivity is achieved easily by bringing two electronics devices close to each other.
Cons: Works on a range of 10 cm or less. So to access the NFC one needs to be in really close contact with the product.
Pros: Here the atmosphere plays an important part in obtaining a better-received signal. The GPS receivers generally provide a horizontal accuracy of about 3.5 meters and one can also achieve higher accuracy by boosting the system.
Cons: GPS comes with its vulnerability when it comes to proving its capability in the indoor location system. The reason is that GPS need to be in constant touch with the satellite system to interpret a position but indoor means obstruction (concrete and buildings that block the signal). So when it comes to using it as an indoor technology the score drops.
Pros: These are mainly proximity detection devices & there is no minor or major risk in the transmission.
Cons: One of the greater risks with beacons is the beacon hacking. If the security measure is weak then the hackers can very well hack the system and take undue advantage of it. But now many of the beacon manufacturers are coming up with better avenues to assess the beacon security.
Pros: Well the way devices need to be really intimate to access this technology it becomes difficult for the hackers to play their role and hijack the signal.
Cons: NFC supports both secure (designed the way debit or credit cards work) and insecure data communication.
Pros: It is a no-nonsense technology (not self-meddling) when it comes to security part.
Cons: The security is mainly associated with the receiver’s end. Nowadays various authentication techniques have emerged to secure the GPS receiver.
The notification is activated only when in proximity with a beacon.
People use the NFC tag to control when and how to use it.
It has the option of on and off to use it.
The battery-powered beacons last for a year and one can easily find USB powered and electromagneticallly powered beacons.
Doesn’t need any power source, it gets live when it comes in contact with NFC enabled device.
The longer you use higher the battery it consumes.
A mobile app can keep an eye on the customer’s movement and activities.
If you don’t engage the tag you aren’t allowing the NFC to be interfering with your privacy. Only the one who provided the tag can monitor the movements.
It mainly comes from the device and the communication tool in the manufacturer’s server.
It needs only the Bluetooth LE installed in it.
Not even the popular smartphones come with inbuilt NFC chip.
Any smartphone nowadays comes with this technology
So now that we have fairly evaluated the pros and cons of all the three proficient technologies let’s see the crux of how these technologies can be used in the business and be advantageous.
The foremost thing is that there is no technology that fits the best for a given business and fulfills all the expectation. It would be futile to expect everything from one but what one can do is make a combination of the two or more technologies that will give you better results and also complement each other’s cons.
It is the best possible technology when it comes to positioning, communication and analytic. It doesn’t require much of the money and is also more accurate than the others. It offers a chance to communicate easily with the customers. And when you combine it with NFC or GPS it becomes the best for the outdoor too.
It is good to use for a secure customer to-entity transaction, but the proximity of NFC is lower which can be enhanced by the complementing it with other technologies.
While it is better in outdoor use it tends to prove a weaker technology because of its signal receiving factors that affect the working. So it needs to be paired with another technology to make it compatible for indoor use.