Smartphones and tablets have revolutionized many industries unlike any other technology in a generation. And a new invention called the iBeacon has the potential to take that paradigm shift one step further. iBeacons use wireless Bluetooth connections to generate location data that’s much more precise than GPS. Rather than just tell you what street you’re on, iBeacons can tell you which room you’re standing in or whom you’re next to. While many retailers are looking into ways to incorporate this technology into their storerooms, public service providers should be paying attention too.
iBeacons could map hospitals hallways, helping ailing and elderly patients navigate labyrinthine environments. Hectic emergency rooms could keep precise track of patients and wait times. Museums, zoos and other educational institutions could use iBeacons to customize exhibits, making them more engaging and informative. Imagine walking up to the shark tank and having shark facts and videos appear on your phone. People with disabilities may benefit too. Many smartphones currently offer text-to-speech support for the visually impaired. iBeacons could enable such users to interact more intelligently with their environment, and operate household devices by talking to their phone.
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