Behold our retail Christmas future? Perhaps.
Apple officially activated iBeacon today, meaning customers in all 254 of its U.S. stores can be tracked – with their permission – and sent notifications as they shop.
The iBeacon feature, which was designed for IOS 7, utilizes Bluetooth transmitters to provide accurate location data indoors. That means it can sense exactly where customers are in the store, right down to the very aisle.
Users who download the Apple Store app and allow iBeacon to track them can now receive in-store notifications about upcoming deals, events and when their order is ready for pickup, according to the Associated Press, which got a glimpse of the technology this week. It can also alert users to their upgrade eligibility if they are near another iPhone or tablet.
The company intends for the feature to make the Apple Store experience even more personalized. Apple says iBeacon gives apps "a whole new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores," according to the Associated Press.
About 20 iBeacon transmitters have been placed in Apple's Fifth Avenue location in New York City, and the tech is already finding a home outside the walls of the Apple Store. Major League Baseball is planning to use iBeacon to enhance their At The Ballpark iOS 7 app, which will give MLB fans location-specific perks, like coupons, the Associated Press reported.
With the accessibility of Apple's micro-location technology, even more apps with these types of features are probably not far behind. But between iBeacon and Jeff Bezos's announcement about Amazon Prime Air, this holiday season is starting to seem a little like something George Orwell or Aldous Huxley could have dreamt up. And that's even before we get to NORAD's annual tracking of Old St. Nick.
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