Qualcomm Launches 'Gimbal' Bluetooth LE iBeacon Competitor

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.

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Top Rated Comments

WaxedJacket Avatar
139 months ago
Quallcomm?

Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kenrik Avatar
139 months ago
This post is factually lacking.

Sanity below.

iBeacons cost about $5 each too - the issue is that the companies charging $100 for three are trying to make money before people notice that you can get them that cheap (go check Alibaba). They are almost all based off the same Texas Instruments BTLE platform/chip, Qualcomm can't get the same level of background performance/features in their software since they don't have the OS access required. iBeacons are a better platform, someone just needs to make an Android SDK that's iBeacon compatible and we're golden. (Apple can't prevent that: they just broadcast Major/Minor values to any device listening) Anyone who has worked with bluetooth stack on a software level knows I speak the truth.

Link to one of many iBeacon listings $5-$10 based on volume - http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/1474488885/UUID_Programmable_CC2541_Module_Built_in.html
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TMay Avatar
139 months ago
iBeacons just a generic term?

Not sure that it matters all that much to Apple who the beacon provider is. The most important aspect is that iOS users, and smartphones with BLE support will be able to use "beacons" anywhere there is app support.

Yet more bad news for NFC with Qualcomm's very low pricing; could be 10's of millions of beacons in retail by end of next quarter.

Edit: iBeacons is both trademarked and copyrighted, but the functionality is open.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
colinc Avatar
139 months ago
...plus fees

https://manager.gimbal.com/fee-schedule

So if your store sees 10k users a month you're going to be paying $600+ in licensing fees? The $100 3 pack of iBeacons is starting to sound like a better deal.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Klae17 Avatar
139 months ago
Don't water your gimbals after midnight!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)