Timeframe: Already here
Beacons are small Bluetooth-enabled transmitters that have gained some popularity recently. Basically, the beacon transmits a short-range signal with a specific data content such as a UUID (Universally Unique IDentifier) together with some data like a hyperlink. When a Bluetooth enabled device (a mobile phone for instance) gets in range of the beacon, the signal can be picked up and depending of the context, an app on the phone may recognize the UUID and trigger some action. An example:
- A truck approaches a port to pick up a container
- A beacon that is placed 2 km from the port gate is recognized by the driver’s mobile phone where a special app is installed
- The beacon contains a hyperlink that is activated and directs the app on the phone to an online check in service. The app is preloaded with data regarding the shipment that is being picked up.
- The check in is finished before the truck arrives at the gate
- The truck is identified, perhaps by a new beacon at the gate that triggers a response from the app in the phone
- Since the port has had advance warning, the stevedores have already found the container and are waiting for the truck just inside the gate
The case above does not need beacons per se, it can be realized by other means also. Often this means that systems need to be integrated or that expensive technology needs to be installed (such as OCR for license plates etc.). Beacons cost around €40, so with this solution a geo-fence that is scalable, easily implemented and prepared for ad hoc-usage is possible. See article via link below for current research on the topic.