Google's additional privacy, security in Eddystone reaffirms commitment to beacons

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) last week introduced Ephemeral IDs (EID), a beacon frame in the Eddystone format that gives developers more power to control who can make use of the beacon signal, and beacon companies like Gimbal say it's a further testament to the industrywide adoption of beacon technology.

To be sure, when Google announced Eddystone last July, industry veterans interpreted it as yet another stamp of approval for the technology. Google launched Eddystone as an open and extensible Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon format supported by Android, iOS and Chrome. With the introduction of EID, Google is enabling a new set of use cases where it's important for users to be able to exchange information securely and privately.

Since the beacon frame changes periodically, the signal is only useful to clients with access to a resolution service that maps the beacon's current identifier to stable data, according to Google. "In other words, the signal is only recognizable to a controlled set of users," states a blog post.

Gimbal, the San Diego-based location- and proximity-based mobile engagement entity that was spun out of Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) in 2014, is one of 15 manufacturers that are supporting Eddystone-EID, with more expected to follow. "We view Google's continued investment in the beacon space as a further testament to the industrywide adoption of beacon technology and view it as one that will help accelerate growth across multiple industries looking to evolve their mobile offering to keep pace with ramping IoT expectations," writes Gimbal CTO Chas Wurster.

Google also shared some interesting use cases to demonstrate Eddystone-EID in various scenarios. Samsonite and Accent Systems developed a suitcase with Eddystone-EID where travelers can securely keep track of their personal luggage. K11 is a Hong Kong museum and retail experience that is using Sensoro Eddystone-EID beacons for visitor tours and customer promotions. Sparta Digital produced an app called Buzzin that uses Eddystone-EID beacons deployed in Manchester, UK, to enable a more seamless transit experience.

Beacons often conjure up concerns about privacy, and Gimbal says it has always put privacy and security at the forefront of its solution. "We have been firm believers that beacon owners should have 'digital ownership' of their beacons to control which applications are able to access their beacons," Wurster said.

For more:
- see this Google post
- see this Gimbal post

Related articles:
Google joins Apple, Facebook, Twitter in beacon race
Gimbal wants to turn Bluetooth LE devices into beacons
Wi-Fi technology goes beacon-like with upcoming Wi-Fi Aware feature

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