The term beacon is related to location-based services.
A beacon is a small hardware device that enables the exact location of another device, as well as the sending of data (e.g. push notifications) within a certain, often relatively short, range of about 50 meters. Beacon hardware is often implemented into smartphones.
To locate and send messages, small amounts of data are transmitted via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Beacons are mainly used in indoor positioning technology. However, it is also possible to use this technology outdoors.
Both the transmitter (the beacon) and the receiver (e.g. a smartphone) are required. The range of the transmitter and receiver is usually about 50-75 meters. Today, the transmission is often carried out using BLW transmission, which requires less power than its predecessor Bluetooth.
In order for a device such as a smartphone to be addressed by a beacon, the necessary software (e.g. a special app) must be installed.
As soon as the device is within the beacon's sphere of action, the beacon can send push notifications, for example. To be able to determine the location of the receiver more precisely, several beacons can be placed within one radius of action.
In marketing, for example, beacons are used to locate customers within a store and to send offers and advertisements in a targeted manner.
Large shopping centers can use beacons to measure how much time customers spend in each store and send them advertisements about the stores they are in. Indoor navigation, similar to Google Maps or Apple Maps from one store to another, is also possible.