Gimbal wants to turn Bluetooth LE devices into beacons

Gimbal, the location- and proximity-based mobile engagement that was spun out of Qualcomm last year, says it is making its beacon firmware available to enable virtually any Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) device to act as a Gimbal beacon.

Adding Gimbal beacon technology to devices will enable retailers, hotels, venues, advertisers and out-of-home (OOH) networks to reach their mobile app users as well as to monetize their beacon networks by securely sharing access to the beacons with partners, sponsors or digital ad networks, according to the company. 


Gimbal uses geofencing and proximity beacons combined to get a better sense of an end user's journey in the physical world and ties that to the digital world. For retailers, that means helping them better understand their visitors before they arrive--when they're close by the neighborhood--as well as when they enter the store. Bluetooth allows for that micro-level view, according to Gimbal COO Kevin Hunter.

"We're in a lot of different areas," he said, with customers like Apple that use Gimbal iBeacons in their retail stores nationwide, as well as Major League Baseball inside stadiums. Gimbal also supplied some 1,300 beacons at this year's South by Southwest for proximity networking/meetups. Municipalities use beacon technology to provide information to citizens about parking during special events, for example, and some enterprises are using the beacons to understand hot and cool spots inside buildings.

Gimbal considers itself unique because it has the macro/micro component whereas many of its competitors only have either the macro or the micro sides.

The installation of beacons in city infrastructure--like phone booths in New York City--has led to concerns about consumer privacy, but Hunter said beacons offer checks and balances where some other location technologies do not. With Gimbal's beacons, the consumer has to download an app and opt in for it to work.

To do it right, he says three basic principles should be followed: a transparent opt-in on the value exchange; the ability for the consumer to change his or her mind afterward; and the ability to just turn it off. By doing that, you put the consumers in control. "We made sure that it's very important within our platform that we were TRUSTe certified," and on the board advisory committee for the Future of Privacy Forum, Hunter said. "We want to do right by consumers because we're consumers first ourselves."

Gimbal's proprietary firmware is capable of running on existing embedded platforms including Windows, Linux, Android and proprietary systems, among others. Through its solution, Gimbal is licensing the ability to both transmit and detect beacons. For Internet-connected devices such as access points, set-top-boxes, vending machines and others, Gimbal firmware provides the ability to manage those devices via Gimbal's cloud service, according to a press release.

Gimbal says its beacons transmit a unique rolling, encrypted ID to ensure digital ownership of a proximity network, with support for both iOS and Android, along with advanced geofencing, analytics, security and privacy controls.

Wi-Fi access point provider Ruckus Wireless recently entered into an alliance with Gimbal whereby Ruckus ZoneFlex access points can now run Gimbal's firmware. Ruckus access points with Gimbal technology are designed to enable retailers, hotels, venues, advertisers and out-of-home networks to monetize their wireless networks by securely sharing access to their beacon networks with business partners, sponsors or digital ad networks.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
Wi-Fi technology goes beacon-like with upcoming Wi-Fi Aware feature
Gimbal, Urban Airship combine beacon, messaging expertise
Bluetooth Smart, Wi-Fi raise the hackles of privacy advocates
Aruba buys Meridian in latest indoor-positioning land grab