Facebook Tests Beacon Tech to Provide Users with Local Info

Facebook wants to use beacons to test a new service called Place Tips that transmits information about shops, restaurants and landmarks to users nearby. Facebook will begin testing the service in New York City at different shops and city landmarks. Place Tips uses location services to identify when a Facebook user is nearby any one of the designated locations and then pushes content such as photos, reviews and tips about the location directly above a user’s Facebook News Feed.

facebook33The Strand Book Store, The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien Hotel and Dominique Ansel Bakery are among eight shops Facebook has selected for the testing of its new service. Facebook has installed Bluetooth beacons at each of the locations.

The Wall Street Journal also notes that Central Park, Times Square and the Brooklyn Bridge have been selected for testing as well. “Because [these] areas are larger, Facebook will use GPS signals, cellphone towers and Wi-Fi signals, but not beacons, to locate users.”

According to The Verge, “a Place Tip is a fairly unobtrusive slice that shows up in the top of your News Feed…Once you open it, you’ll be able to check in to the location and see photos and posts shared by your friends who’ve also visited the same spot. Naturally, it’ll also surface information from the location’s official Facebook page.”

Facebook is offering the service to businesses free of charge but as WSJ reports, “Facebook said it could one day sell ads tied to information, giving it another way to make ads more personal, and potentially relevant.”

“Facebook’s involvement could be a ‘network effect multiplier,’ pushing the use of beacons into the mainstream, said John Jackson, an analyst at the research firm IDC. Beacons are cheap, selling for as little as $5. The real cost is in the software engineering,” explains WSJ.