iBeacon in Accessibility, iBeacon Technology

IBeacon accessibility and barriers

The iBeacon was introduced in mid 2013 and by December Apple activated iBeacons in 254 retail stores across the US, 20 ibeacons per store. With this rapid and fast changing new technology limited access will not take long to be broken down. Apples iBeacons have naturally some competitors. Qualcomm introduced their Gimbal proximity beacons in 2013 also. These are at a lower cost and come in indoor and outdoor models. Possible 250 million ibeacons in use in by the year 2014 this is a lot considering they just released them one year prior. There is said to be an estimated 170-190 million iOS devices are currently capable of being iBeacons
could swell to 250 million

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Google Glass, iBeacon in Accessibility, iBeacon Technology

iBeacon vs. Google Glass

Google glass is a computer system with the accessibility and and simplicity that active people are always looking for. Google glass however, is implemented through the form of glasses or sunglasses which then generates the desired information right there in front of your eyes, which limits accessibility for the visually impaired. This is invention is designed so that you have Google right at your fingertips. Similar to iBeacon, Google Glass is able to locate things geographically, however, it is not quite as precise and not able to navigate indoors as well as iBeacon because iBeacon can help locate things down to inches. The voice recognition software in Google Glass and in iBeacon makes both devices even more accessible.

Accessibility using iBeacon vs. Google Glass

iBeacon allows users who already own an Apple or Android device to benefit from the new system simply by downloading an app rather than spending approximately $2,000 dollars on Google Glass. iBeacon seems to be a better solution after all, given its user opt-in nature and low power consumption capabilities. iBeacon allows users to opt-in to using this software, whereas Google Glass automatically uses recognition to suggest deals and other recommendations. Google Glass adds another device that would need to be carried around in order to experience the benefits, but with iBeacon, all you need is your phone in order to access all of iBeacons benefits. Not only do you have to remember the glasses, you also have to remember the track pad or the glasses are useless. Many uses will place the track pad in their pockets, but with that, there is a risk of it breaking. This is just one more thing that would have to be carried around.
iBeacon in Accessibility, iBeacon Technology, iBeacon Uses

Using iBeacon in Different Settings

Is iBeacon living up to it’s full potential?

iBeacon is considered “the indoor GPS”. It is an indoor positioning system that allows you to connect to it with your Apple of android device and then use it as an extremely accurate and precise GPS. iBeacon has the potential to unlock doors upon approach, notify you if your bike or car is no longer in the garage, give you tours of museums, locate restrooms or buildings, and notify you of your surrent location in relation to your final destination. iBeacon has most commonly been used to provide shoppers with coupons, deals, and shopping suggestions based on the popular consumer preference, but is iBeacon progressing in the most beneficial direction, which is to help the disabled?

iBeacon and non-retail settings

iBeacon has been used a location tool in parking garages to help people find their cars, the exit, and the entrances to buildings. If someone who is in a wheelchair can’t remember what floor they parked on, the specific location of their car, or their hearing aids, it may be very hard for them to navigate around in order to find it. That is where iBeacon comes in. Its ability to pinpoint specifically, down to inches, a range of things all the way from a car down to a tiny hearing aid, is revolutionary. iBeacon has the potential to help the visualy impaired locate certain buildings and even elevators or restrooms in the buildings. With the accuracy that iBeacon is capeable of, it could drastically change the lives of those who are visually impaired. Unfortunately, the main use right now for the iBeacon is simply to benefit consumers at retail stores. Although iBeacon’s obvious perks are things like cars and buildings, the most amazing capability is the ability to locate things such as hearing aids. Those are things that are often misplaced, and if an individual is visually impaired, they would be difficult to locate.

iBeacon in the retail setting

In the retail setting, those who are visually impaired could be easily guided to specific locations for specific product. There is also the potential for iBeacon to link with motorized wheelchair ramps that lower when you approach them and arms on shelves that can lower product down to those who are disabled. iBeacon can also direct users to where a product is located. This would come in handy when in a lage warehouse like Costco to assist people with disabilities who have a difficult time maneuvering from place to place.


iBeacon in Accessibility, iBeacon Technology, Uncategorized


The ibeacon although brand new technology definitely has the potential to be extremely helpful if not life changing for those with disabilities. One of the ways for the ibeacon to enhance movement is by making entering into buildings very accessible. This s done with the E-z function. This function as of now allows for an authorized disabled employee upon reaching a door it will automatically open for them.  This capability can be expanded to allow for the opening of all doors throughout a building without having to punch the button, if available.  This will allow for safer and faster passage through doors and walkways. The ibeacon with this capability can also be brought into homes providing the same door opening capabilities along with the  turning on of lights, heat, air conditioning, possibly even water faucets and showers.  I know presently there are voice activated tools to allow for some of these functions but this could be developed to be even more functional and efficient.  This new application has the potential to help equalize some of the daily obstacles disabled people face. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9242393/Why_Apple_s_indoor_GPS_plan_is_brilliant

iBeacon in Accessibility, iBeacon Technology, iBeacon Uses

Buy-In for Micro-Location Accessibility

You are out on a late summer evening running some errands. The Reno night air is cool against your skin and the bustling noises of the passing traffic tickles your ears. You need to catch a bus to the third terminal on Virginia Street in order to reach your next destination. Unfortunately though, the micro-location transmitters you were using a moment ago to navigate, being that you are a visually impaired individual, are no longer available. They have not been installed in this particular location. It seems now that catching your bus will be just as tricky as old times…

One of the downfalls of the new iBeacon operating system in terms of its possible use for micro-location accessibility is that it requires a large amount of public buy-in, both through community commitment and partnership. Since the technology seems to be currently aimed at promoting retail endeavors, the operating system is only available in participating venues thus far. Perhaps even the technology has been installed on university campuses, in museums, or in theme parks in order to allow for ease of use, which further extends its coverage boarders. However, the coverage of iBeacon and Bluetooth 4.0 technology is still far from universal.

This is a barrier to the use and promotion of the new iBeacon technology in micro-location accessibility. The community will need to come together, forging a conversation regarding the future uses of the iBeacon technology system. This is the only way that mico-location accessibility through the iBeacon operating system will be made possible.

iBeacon in Accessibility, iBeacon Technology, iBeacon Uses

iBeacon at a Glance

Picture of iOS 7 iBeacon device

Apple iBeacon device used for micro-location

Apple technologies such as Google Maps and FourSquare have long used location data to enhance the average user’s mobile experience. However, that is just the beginning, where Bluetooth’s latest technology “revolutionizes how people interact with everyday objects and place.”

Using the latest iOS7 software as a platform, Apple created iBeacon which utilizes Bluetooth 4.0, a location based technology. The iBeacon operating system allows sensors to detect the exact presence of a phone, within inches of accuracy. Since the unveiling of the technology in the summer of 2013, Apple has stated that its new operating system has the potential to “provide apps a whole new level of location awareness.”

iBeacon is currently being implemented mainly as a marketing tool, although the possibilities appear endless. Through the use of an application specific to a retail store, the consumer can receive up to date coupons and promotions based on their exact location in the store. For example, iBeacon technology would allow a store to track the location of a customer say in the wine isle, offering them a push notification containing a coupon for a Cabernet Sauvignon. Macy’s has recently piloted the technology in a few stores nationwide and found it to be a successful tool.

Other clever uses of iBeacon Technology can be found in this Washington Post article.

But what if the technology, which locates an individual’s exact location using their mobile device, were used to assist the visually impaired? Micro-location, through the iBeacon operating system, has the potential to unlock doors to promote independence through accurate and user-friendly accessibility.


The Qualcomm Gimbal is a lower cost beacon to Apple’s iBeacon. With the lower cost beacons they are more accessible to every body. The Gimbal beacons are available in two models indoor and outdoor. The indoor beacons cost about $5 USD and the outdoor(weatherproof) beacons cost about $10 USD. This is a dramatic decrease in comparison to other beacons. The Gimbal is comparable with the iOS software, and let retailers develop their own iOS apps. The users do not need to worry about the company or provider that is giving the support they will work universally.