Qualcomm has announced
the launch of its Gimbal proximity beacons, which are designed to work similarly to Apple's own iBeacons. Like iBeacons, Qualcomm's proximity beacons serve as physical Bluetooth access points that interact with apps on iPhones and iPads over Bluetooth LE.
Qualcomm's overall Gimbal
platform is billed as a "context aware" proximity platform allowing brands to deliver information to customers based on physical location, activity, time, and personal interests.
Gimbal helps increase the relevance of content delivered to end users' devices, filtering out the irrelevant and offering more personalized experiences, thereby allowing retailers, venues, content providers and developers to send personalized high-value content to enhance their users' mobile devices.
The Gimbal beacons, which support iOS out of the box with an accompanying SDK that can be built into apps, come in two different sizes that are accurate down to one foot both indoors and outdoors. The Series 10 beacons cost as little as $5, while the larger Series 20 beacons start at $10. Individual iBeacon-compatible beacons from other companies
are more expensive, at approximately
$100 for three.
Apple's iBeacons, first introduced
earlier this year at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, are already in use in a number of different locations.
Back in November, Shopkick teamed up
with Macy's to debut the first retail-based iBeacons, allowing customers to find location-specific deals and recommendations within the app while visiting a participating Macy’s store.
iBeacons have also been installed
in Apple retail stores, giving in-store notifications through the company's Apple Store app. Along with retail applications, one publishing startup is using the technology
to deliver free magazines, and Major League Baseball also plans to incorporate
iBeacons into stadiums next year.
With iOS support, Qualcomm's Gimbal proximity beacons will be indistinguishable from Apple's iBeacons to end users, giving merchants and retailers a suitable alternative to Apple's technology. Apple does have an edge, however, as iPhones and iPads can potentially be configured
as both iBeacon receivers and transmitters, skirting the need for a separate piece of hardware.