As many as 60 million Bluetooth beacons will be active in the US by 2019, according to a new report from ABI Research.
The beacons will be used to provide indoor location services, acting like a GPS in crowded malls, sports venues and other facilities that could benefit from such services.
However, indoor location services are only one use for these new gadgets. Businesses can use them in a retail setting, hotels and resorts can use beacons to help guests find their way around their facilities, hospitals can track patients and doctors.
Although the basic concept has been around for a while, beacons were usually viewed as a technology for retailers. ABI Research analyst Patrick Connolly says there is more to beacons than smart click-and-mortar retail.
"It may surprise many to see that retail is the smallest market covered in the report," said Connolly.
ABI Research argues that beacons like Apple’s iBeacon and Qualcomm’s Gimbal could make smart homes even smarter, making use of the new technology at home. People could use beacons to track their pets or simply find stuff, which means no more ‘Property of Ned Flanders’ lawnmowers in Homer’s garage.
Beacons could also be used to boost energy efficiency, as your smart home could track your habits and adjust lighting and temperature accordingly.