App company Mubaloo has launched its MiBeacons division, to offer 'microlocation' beacons which can communicate with nearby mobile devices using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy).
The launch follows a six month R&D programme and £250,000 investment in the technology by CEO and founder Mark Mason. To head the division, Mubaloo has brought in Mike Crooks – former director of Hotspot Training, which leveraged a similar technology in its sports training products.
“We’ve been looking at Bluetooth Low Energy for the past few years to monitor how the market would develop,” said Mason. “From wearables to sensors, Bluetooth Low Energy is helping to make smart environments for smart devices. With MiBeacons, we are taking the principles of iBeacons and applying it to the enterprise market. While others are focusing on consumer opportunities; we believe that one of the biggest markets for the technology will be business intelligence for the enterprise.”
The majority of Mubaloo's business already comes from enterprise clients, and with MiBeacons it will be targeting in-the-field workers. BLE can be used to trigger specific elements of apps – meaning that it can bring up relevant information based on the user's location, rather than requiring them to navigate through multiple screens to find it in-app.
The other side of MiBeacon's offering is business intelligence. By placing multiple beacons, companies can track how people are moving around – an element that seems particularly pitched towards retail clients.
It's a market that has become increasingly busy since Apple first revealed its own iBeacon offering late last year – which Mubaloo MD Sarah Weller explained for us in a guest column at the time, and which the company acknowledges was the starting point for MiBeacons' development. But Mubaloo believes the key to differentiation is defining unique use cases:
“As beacons are essentially dumb devices, it’s down to developers to create smarter apps and companies to think about how to enhance the user experience,” said Mason.
MiBeacons will be starting trials with three clients across the transportation, fitness and leisure sectors in the coming weeks.