2020-02-04

Use Cases for Physical Web

Introduction

Physical Web is a technology and concept that brings location- and context-based information to customers and visitors via their mobile phones.

At a venue beacons are installed that comply to Eddystone-URL, and that signal a URL continuously that is detected by a phone app.

To use Physical Web, visitors/customers install a mobile application for the task, e.g. from Physical Web Association (generic) or Abiro (private-branded). Once installed and started, everything’s set from the user’s point-of-view.

You as a venue owner set up beacons at suitable spots and provide information about getting a suitable app.

CliqTags is a content solution that’s very effective to use with Physical Web, providing content and interaction in a manner optimized for mobile use, with quick loading, quick navigation etc.

These are only a few examples, presented in a “LEGO brick” fashion, that you can combine based on relevance for your business, and that hopefully provides ideas for innovative uses.

The use cases are mostly visitor/consumer-focused, but there’s also a relevant productivity aspect, where Physical Web could provide information to employees at relevant locations.


Example use case

A scenario discussed a few years ago involved a large furniture chain where both employees and customers could gain from information related to furniture groups in the shops. Customers could pull up information about color schemes, model variants, detailed pricing etc, as well as pre-order and check inventory, while employees could report in work orders (e.g. repairs) etc.


Why?

Benefits

  • provide focused information when and where it’s relevant
  • increase likelihood of spontaneous visits and purchases with spot deals etc
  • get more and better feedback directly at your venue

What?

Content

  • coupons
  • deals
  • new offerings
  • pre-ordering
  • time-scheduling
  • room-scheduling
  • descriptions
  • surveys
  • instructions

Where?

Venues

  • shops
  • malls
  • amusement parks
  • zoos
  • museums
  • art displays
  • squares
  • parks
  • bus/train stations
  • buses/trains
  • airports
  • conferences
  • exhibits/shows
  • business centers
  • festivals
  • concerts

How?

Placement recommendations

With a few examples of applicable venues.

  • on/behind signs (squares, stations)
  • inside windows (shops)
  • along aisles (malls, stations, airports)
  • on shelves (shops)
  • behind objects (museums)
  • on walls (buses, trains, shops)

Beacon recommendations

  • Avoid placement behind or close to metal or water.
  • Turn down radio power if beacons should be detected at close proximity (suitable level needs to be verified).
  • Verify function in the venues. Don’t assume it works fine with lots of people around etc.
  • Secure that the beacons support Eddystone-URL, and there’s an easy-to-use configuration app, before purchase.
  • Buy beacons for the task. There are lots of different form factors and level of ruggedness.
  • If it’s possible to power them continuously at the location, get USB beacons. That way you can also turn up power and lower the transmission interval.
  • Check with your dealer before you buy. You can avoid mistakes that way.
  • A URL stored in a beacon needs to be short (max 28 characters total if using something like https://domain.com/page12345, due to shortening of “https://” and “.com/” to one byte each).
  • Preferably put a tracking ID on each beacon’s URL, so you know where the accesses come from, but again, respect the length limit.
  • The two above can be solved via link-shortening or by using a solution designed for the task of providing short links to hosted content, like CliqTags.

Content recommendations

  • See to that content accessed is relevant to the location/situation, lightweight, to the point, interesting, and interactive/animated, to grab the visitor’s/customer’s attention.
  • Don’t indiscriminately link to your corporate site, even if responsive, as it may still be slow to load, contain information irrelevant to the location etc.
  • Make use of pictures and videos as well as text formatting, but avoid the “MySpace syndrome”: Be consistent across the content and don’t shock the viewer.
  • Highlight your brand. If people don’t see / care about anything else, they should at least see your brand.
  • Keep information up-to-date and functioning over time, so people have a reason to come back to your information: switch (daily) offerings, highlight different events etc.

Other means of access

There are analogues in the shape of QR codes and NFC tags containing URLs, meaning the same content could be accessed via any of these methods, possibly in combination, to obtain a better reach and device compatibility:

Characteristic Beacon QR code NFC tag
auto-detection from a distance yes no no
line of sight needed no yes no
close proximity needed no no yes (1” or so)
passive (no energy) no yes yes
harsh environments depends yes yes