Start-up Pulsate focuses on marketing potential of Apple’s iBeacon technology

18 Apr 2014

Pulsate's Patrick Leddy with one of his iBeacons

A new Irish start-up called Pulsate is harnessing the marketing potential of Apple’s low-powered wireless indoor positioning technology iBeacon. Among the first brands to try the technology in Ireland is Heineken.

Pulsate is led by Patrick Leddy, who also runs app software firm Furious Tribe. The new company will focus on bringing iBeacon technology to large retailers, as well as venues and transport providers.

iBeacon works on Bluetooth Low Energy, also known as Bluetooth Smart, and enables small wireless location-aware sensor beacons to pinpoint users’ location in a store and send notifications of items nearby that are on sale, for example.

Apple devices running iOS 7 and Mac OS X Mavericks(10.9) with Bluetooth 4.0 are capable of interacting with the technology, which is seen as an alternative to near field communication (NFC).

The technology is believed to be capable of detecting a device’s location far more precisely than GPS.

iBeacons can be used to tell shoppers that their order is ready for collection and direct them to the right location.

Apple is in the process of rolling out iBeacons across 245 stores in the US and it has already installed 20 iBeacons at its Fifth Avenue store in New York.

The technology is being tested by Major League Baseball stadiums in the US to push content, such as video, to the public depending on their precise location.

In London, digital publishing company Exact Editions has created an iBeacon service for publishers that allows them to offer magazine apps free of charge to the public at particular locations as a promotional tool for cafés and hotels.

Leddy explained that Pulsate can sit behind any brand’s existing mobile app.

The new way to drive footfall to stores

“Pulsate will help companies to drive foot traffic to stores and when customers arrive, to deliver game-changing in-store experiences.

“Imagine being able to deliver information to customers’ phones relative to their location, context and interests. Today with Pulsate, we’ve made this a reality,” he said.

“A litany of tools already exists for analysing customers in the virtual world. Take retail e-commerce, for example, a single percentage increase in conversion rate can have a big impact, but this channel only represents 10pc of revenue.  

“We’re taking technology that’s typically only used in the virtual world, and applying it to a channel that represents 90pc of retailers’ revenue – the physical world – and that’s where it starts to get interesting” says Leddy.

“Pulsate provides retailers with tiny self-contained Bluetooth iBeacons, which once activated begin broadcasting customer location and context back to the Pulsate cloud.

“From there the retailer can segment, automate and personalise every communication sent by the platform. Customers can even reply, forming a direct dialogue between the retailer and customer,” Leddy said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years