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NFC Forum and Bluetooth SIG address Bluetooth Smart

By Retail Technology | Thursday June 26 2014

The groups are providing guidance on using NFC for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) pairing, which is present in the beacon technology used by retailers

The NFC Forum industry association and the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) have published an updated version of the ‘Bluetooth Secure Simple Pairing Using NFC’ application document. The document was first published in 2011.

The new version, which is free to download, has been expanded to include descriptions of how to use NFC for fast and easy Bluetooth low energy out-of-band (OOB) pairing, a key capability of Bluetooth Smart. 

Bluetooth Smart driving beacon

Bluetooth smart is the power-friendly version of Bluetooth wireless technology, which is present in the beacon technology deployed by retailers. The beacons powered by Bluetooth Smart technology are primarily aimed at mobile wallet, mobile vouchers and location-based applications. 

NFC and Bluetooth are complementary wireless technologies that can work in concert in a variety of use cases and allow retailers to communicate with customers in-store.

"Bluetooth Smart is enabling completely new scenarios for wireless connectivity and bringing to life the Internet of Things – many of these new use cases could potentially benefit from simplified pairing through NFC," said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. 

Earlier this year, the Bluetooth SIG hailed Bluetooth Smart communications as an “intelligent, power-efficient alternative for push-based marketing activities”, like instore vouchers, mobile payments and location-based services.

Location-based, direct messages have become more of a reality after Apple introduced its iBeacon, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) based technology late last year. 

Consumers supportive of beacon

A recent survey by eDigitalResearch found that more mobile consumers would be willing to receive retailer messages via beacon technology than retailers may have first thought. Almost half (45%) of smartphone owners would be ‘very willing’ or ‘somewhat willing’ for retailers to send messages to their smartphone. 

The researcher said beacons open up the potential for retailers to send location-based content to smartphone owners via apps as they wander past a store – as well as for the BLE 'Bluetooth Smart' standard to revolutionise the mobile payment and advertising industry.

Recently, London’s Regent Street was to become the first shopping street in Europe to pioneer a mobile phone app that communicates with Bluetooth beacons in each store to deliver personalised content to shoppers.

As shoppers walk the almost 2 kilometres of store frontage, they can receive alerts via Bluetooth at no extra cost about new products, upcoming events and offers only available to those shopping on the High Street that day. 

In February, a mobile-commerce joint venture supported a Bluetooth Smart deployment pilot with a beacon provider to enable push marketing for sandwich shop chain EAT.

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