iBeacons in Retail

A short story about first iBeacons deployment in polish Neon Museum and ideas how we can enhance retail with this technology.

Sebastian Suchanowski

5 minute read

iBeacons is that kind of technology that you have probably heard a lot but haven’t seen it in the real world at all. But there are many applications out there and in most cases, the majority of benefits are presented to people at the other end.

Every time you feel that you are guided inside buildings or it seems that you got super personalized, location-aware and just-in-time notification or suggestion in the app - you probably are looking at the effects of the iBeacons.

iBeacons at Neon Museum

ibeacon in neon museum

We were first to deploy iBeacons in Poland. Creating an app for the Neon Museum was a fun side project on the beginning but it quickly grew into a very useful and impactful long-term venture. We used Estimote iBeacons and quickly discover all its possibilities and limitations.

We plan to bring this technology not only to big galleries and malls but also to the retail so we could take the experience and possibilities to make the best value of the customer (for retailers and mall owners).

Not long after we’ve published the Neon Museum app we’ve discovered Europeana and it really did open our eyes to the endless source of data that will be an amazing chance for the digital art industry. Read more about our visit to the Europeana Workshop in Paris.

The underappreciated world of culture could be sent to another level - Culture 2.0. Having in-door localization we can deliver better content based on the context and even upgrade the guided trip so you could stay behind and watch what you like the most not worrying that the group just have left the room. All content can be in your smartphone - why not!

Neon Museum deployment got some coverage in the web, you can read more here:

Bluetooth in iBeacons

Bluetooth Low Energy (known also as BLE or Bluetooth 4.0) which is the main technology behind iBeacons works so efficiently that it will not drain smartphone battery (even having Bluetooth turned on all the time) and the beacon itself will run for months or even years sometimes.

Using iBeacons in retail could give a huge edge to first who will dive into this and as a result will get clients to come again to the store - what is nowadays the biggest struggle for them. We believe that this technology could increase the sales and more importantly personalize it.

We hope that all future iBeacons will use unveiled on 16 June 2016 Bluetooth 5 which provides, for BLE, options that can double the speed (2 Mbit/s burst) at the expense of range, or up to fourfold the range at the expense of data rate, and eightfold the data broadcasting capacity of transmissions, by increasing the packet lengths. The increase in transmissions could be important for the Internet of Things devices, where many nodes connect throughout a whole house. Bluetooth 5 adds functionality for connectionless services such as location-relevant navigation of low-energy Bluetooth connections. (from Wikipedia)

How it works

Let’s get a little technical here. iBeacons are a simple broadcasting device which will send its identifier (ID) over the air. And that’s basically all as it comes for the basic feature of the iBeacons - there are of course more sophisticated hardware out there which have more sensors and ability to do some processing but it drains the battery significantly more so you could get more done but everything has a cost.

Real logic has to be always put to the device on the receiving end. It’s either the case of the customer’s devices or some custom installation where you control everything by providing the device to the users. Some examples to explain:

  • iBeacons placed in different part of the store and users would be notified in the mobile app about their whereabouts or promotions going on in certain regions
  • iBeacons placed with the products and main device (for example iPad) which can provide users with more information about products they brought to the iPad

What about retail


iBeacons might become that technology which will help stay retailers afloat - taking into account large retail chains drowning in debts and closing thousands of their stores.

There are a number of companies that are using iBeacons, those are all interesting use cases and you can read more about them here.

Other uses

Properly set up iBeacons and polished mobile application could help you save time and money. It could help you find the place you are looking for or tell you to stop by the store that has a great sale. There are endless use cases for this. Let’s us just think for a second about the blind - we can make their world a little more friendly.

Smartphones could work as iBeacons too. How many times have you trouble to find someone in the crowd? A simple application could solve this and many more issues.

Those are only a few examples. If you can think of any other iBeacon uses at your company, please contact us contact@synappse.co.

PS. We’ve reached final of 2014 UPC Think Big with our solution - you can check out here the making of for the promo movie we did.


  • 05.2018: We haven’t been to Neon Museum in a long time so we are not sure if the app and the iBeacons are still working but in case you are interested in this use case or want to know more about this technology then let us know.
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