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Qualcomm Gimbal Bluetooth beacons to compete with Apple's iBeacon

updated 09:17 am EST, Tue December 10, 2013

Bluetooth LE continues retail push

Less than a week after Apple began deploying its iBeacon technology inside US retail stores, Qualcomm has launched its own alternative. Known as Gimbal, Qualcomm's proximity beacons also take advantage of low-power Bluetooth LE to help retailers optimize their smartphone-enhanced shopping experience as customers move throughout a store.

The beacons are claimed to be accurate down to one foot, enabling retailers to tailor marketing material and promotions to specific locations or displays. A geofence trigger could be used to greet a customer when they walk in a store, while a proximity sensor could be used to give shopping tips or present special offers.

Qualcomm is preparing two editions: the Series 10 beacon with a battery life between a few months and a year, and the Series 20 beacon with a battery life of one to three years. Prices are expected to range from $5 to $10 per unit, depending on the purchase volume.

The company currently offers an iOS app that can be used as a mobile advertising platform by retailers or other venues, while an Android edition is expected to arrive in the near future.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Mr. Strat

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 01-23-02

    What idiot walks around with Bluetooth turned on all the time (and not using a headset or other BT device)?

  1. sibeale1

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-23-06

    "What idiot walks around with Bluetooth turned on all the time (and not using a headset or other BT device)?" I'm that idiot. I can't be bothered to turn it on and off every time I get into or leave my car. Even with BT on all the time, I get acceptable battery life. On the other hand, I don't spend all my time watching movies on my iPhone.

  1. andrewbw

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-31-01

    Bluetooth has a negligible affect on battery life. That's the whole point of Bluetooth (especially the newer versions used in the latest iPhones)—it is an ultra-short-rage, ultra-low-power transmission mechanism. There's zero gain to turning it off, so unless you just don't want to see the icon on your screen, you may as well leave it on and take advantage of systems like this as they start to proliferate.

  1. Grendelmon

    Senior User

    Joined: 12-26-07

    Doesn't matter to me... I keep Bluetooth off anyway. And why would I want a store to push spam to my phone or tablet as I'm perusing through the isles? Extremely intrusive and just a dumb idea all the way around.

  1. Atheist

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 09-15-06

    It's not just for stores. iBeacon would be perfect in a museum.

  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-19-04

    Is this an alternative, or a possibly a branding of the same Bluetooth LE locators? Just because it isn't called iBeacons doesn't mean it isn't compatible. Similar to how Apple called Wi-Fi Airport, and Firewire, well Firewire, while all of the PC's were calling it iLink or IEEE 1394.

    I don't know the answer. I'm just considering this as a possible cheaper beacon for home automation use.

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