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Emmanuel AzihFounder and CEOBeaconGrid
BeaconGrid produces smart outlets embedded with beacon capabilities that work like beacon technology in a smartphone to collect location-based data. Standalone beacons have several limitations—their batteries run out, they have to be mounted and they are rarely set up uniformly. Emmanuel Azih, founder and CEO of smart outlet provider BeaconGrid, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about how BeaconGrid’s product overcomes some of these challenges.
eMarketer: How does BeaconGrid’s technology work?
Emmanuel Azih: BeaconGrid embeds Bluetooth low energy technology into an outlet. It’s a traditional outlet, but a little smarter. Sockets are required every six feet in some commercial spaces, so we used that infrastructure to design a product that can be implemented in any building to solve the indoor localization problem across many industries.
eMarketer: What industries do you currently serve?
Azih: We are focused on hotels, office buildings, airports and universities. The hotel industry is an interesting use case. We work particularly with brands that have built solutions and just need the proximity layer to enhance localization for real-time mobile intelligence platforms.
eMarketer: How is BeaconGrid’s technology different from traditional beacons or Wi-Fi?
Azih: Battery-powered beacons die within a year, and they are not mounted securely. We spoke to someone who was doing a project at an airport, and he mentioned that they’re losing beacons because janitors throw them in the trash when they’re cleaning. Other pilots fail because of the upkeep. It’s very expensive to maintain a beacon infrastructure that’s battery-powered and portable.
As for traditional GPS or Wi-Fi, those can pinpoint a ballpark area, but they cannot provide a room, an address or a floor number [the way a beacon would].
eMarketer: How are your customers in the hotel industry implementing the technology?
Azih: Hotels can use beacon technology to remotely check in a visitor, automatically open doors, figure out where people are within the hotel and tailor their experience based on their proximity to a particular event.
It’s a new way to think about beacons. It’s not just a dumb device that’s broadcasting a signal—it can also hear other beacon devices to provide enhancements, asset management, tracking and real-time information from guests. The hotel space is one of those industries that’s geared for a lot of growth once deployment, maintenance and monitoring hurdles are cleared.
eMarketer: How can marketers leverage that level of connectivity?
Azih: Marketers have to provide value to the user, and not just through push notifications. For example, if a consumer goes into a store and spends five minutes in a particular area such as the men’s section, marketers can use that information to retarget the consumer online. At the end of the day, location determines intent.
eMarketer: Do you foresee integrations with other connected devices?
Azih: Absolutely. We are application-agnostic. One of the interesting things we’ll probably do in the future is a smart-home setup with (home automation producer) Nest. Today, Nest is fantastic, but the fundamental flaw is it doesn’t know if a user is in the basement or on the second floor of the home, and it would become better if it did.
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