Beacon Technology and the Future of IoT: an Interview with the Founder of Sensorberg
Pictured above: Pascal Morschbach in the Microsoft booth at Dublin Web Summit
Alexander Oelling, founder and CEO of Sensorberg, a graduate startup out of our Berlin Accelerator, took some time to talk with us after Sensorberg’s technology was presented at Dublin Web Summit. Here’s what the entrepreneur had to say about beacon technology, Microsoft, and the future of IoT.
Explain to us what Sensorberg does as if you were explaining to a non-technical person.
Sensorberg is the market leader in the field of beacon technology. Sensorberg develops and provides an integrated solution for beacon-based services and marketing campaigns through its Management Platform and the first global beacon-partner-network.
The solution is compatible with all mobile operating systems as well as any BLE beacon. The Sensorberg Management Platform is the core component of the solution, easily enabling the planning, creation and management of beacon-based service- & marketing campaigns. Sensorberg’s software supports all major beacon standards including Apple’s iBeacon and Google’s Eddystone, as well as Microsoft’s beacon functionality from Windows 10 onwards. Sensorberg’s Software Development Kits render native mobile apps beacon compatible and are freely available for iOS, Android and Windows 10.
In addition to the Sensorberg Management Platform, the Sensorberg Global Network enables each network partner to establish and monetize the own infrastructures via app-, beacon- and content sharing.
Tell us a bit about beacon technology and some of its use cases.
As for the technology, the beacon is a transmitter that sends out an ID. Once a beacon-enabled App enters the radius of the beacon, it receives this ID and displays a push notification. The consumer can click on the push notification on his/her device to access the content stored within the Sensorberg Management Platform.
There are many ways one can use the beacon campaigns:
Proximity services: You can provide valuable, location-based services such as check in, check out, assistance for people with handicaps, as well as deliver entertainment and smart information directly to the user’s smartphone.
Mobile advertising: You can send offers via push notifications directly to customer’s smartphone or direct attention to special promotions at the point of interest. You can engage your customers based on their micro-location and increase sales.
Data analytics: Gain insights into customer habits, behavior and walking routes as well as measure the impact of advertising and smart services at the point of interest. You can run A/B tests and receive feedback in real time. You can optimize your offers and floor design by utilizing customer feedback and thus increase revenue.
How is Sensorberg reshaping beacon technology?
Sensorberg came about in 2013 with the idea of creating a win-win situation between end users and industry with the help of a small technological achievement called a "beacon." This idea has now evolved into a vision of a global beacon infrastructure which seeks to simplify people's everyday lives. The beacon technology offers the opportunity to navigate people via their smartphones to the right destination in enclosed spaces such as airports, train stations or even museums, to bring online shoppers back to brick and mortar retail stores and to improve customer-bank-interaction in bank branches. The scope of ideas for beacon-based business models is almost unlimited.
We are standing on the threshold of a digital revolution which is characterized by the automation of industrial and non-industrial workflows.
We are standing on the threshold of a digital revolution which is characterized by the automation of industrial and non-industrial workflows. This includes keywords such as Internet of Things, home automation, smart home, smart city or Industry 4.0. Since 2013, the beacon infrastructure has been a useful addition to the Internet of Things. It solves the challenge of the "discovery effect." In other words, this technology initiates the specific data exchange via apps or information stored in the cloud and allows the tracking of networked devices.
What role has Microsoft played in helping advance your technology/company?
Sensorberg was emerging from the idea stage when we were accepted into the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Program in Berlin. With the support of Microsoft Ventures, this idea developed into a strong vision of a global beacon infrastructure to simplify everyday lives, as mentioned before. Almost all sectors showed interest in this technology by the beginning of 2014. This was only possible with a dedicated team, working hard on reshaping reality being supported by innovative companies such as Microsoft.
Fortunately, over the past couple of years, the trend of established companies founding accelerators and development programs emerged. The theoretical goal of these programs is to create touch points and synergies between startups and large companies which ultimately leads to productive results. Companies such as Microsoft are pioneers and create dynamic co-working spaces for founders and startups with innovative visions in alignment with their portfolio. Thereby, they are enabling a direct communication channel between old and new economy.
Sensorberg took away many learnings from the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator. Some of these learnings include self-marketing abilities, pitch trainings and practices, and support in marketing activities. Sensorberg also benefitted from increased media attention at events and press conferences as well as warm introductions to decision makers and potential customers. One of the biggest highlights remains the honor to implement our technology in the new Windows 10 in an exemplary collaboration with the big multinational.
In 2015, a new collaboration between Sensorberg and Microsoft has set the foundation for joint development of a Software Development Kit, the software for beacon compatibility for any app, in order to allow the cross-platform use of Sensorberg’s exceptional software on Windows 10. As all other SDKs, this SDK will be available as open source for windows 10. It will enable any company to upgrade their apps not only for iOS and Android, but also for Windows 10 and thereby making it beacon-compatible. App providers can benefit from the Sensorberg Enterprise Support and are professionally hosted via Azure.
You recently presented at Dublin Web Summit. How did Sensorberg use beacon technology there?
It was a great experience to be able to present Sensorberg and its solution together with Microsoft at the Web Summit 2015 in Dublin. Sensorberg introduced the newest generation of beacon software and hardware by means of a showcase to interested visitors.
As the title suggests—“Learn how Microsoft & Sensorberg change the world of proximity”—we showed real time proximity campaigns via push notifications and analytics. Visitors were mostly interested in the “Sensorberg Global Network” and its unique possibility to share and monetize beacon-based hardware and software infrastructures.
All in all, the opportunity to present Sensorberg in an international environment was a great success. We would like to recommend that everyone seize this opportunity if given the chance. We look forward to future collaborations with Microsoft and its excellent employees.
What’s next for Sensorberg?
The Internet of Things is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. With its beacon-based open source solution, Sensorberg is establishing a new standard for proximity software and propelling forward the development of technological tools and solutions. With the possibility of data transfer via apps and tracking of networked devices in enclosed spaces, the beacon technology is directly related to the Internet of Things.
In order to develop “proximity based ambient intelligence,” Sensorberg created a new standard for proximity software through its open source software for beacon compatibility with all major operating systems. The open source approach has been chosen to actively advance the development of tools and solutions for the beacon universe and IoT.
Big thanks to Alex for taking the time to share a bit about Sensorberg and beacon technology. Have thoughts about this space? Let us know in the comments!