15 May 2019
Don’t be evil…just slightly creepy
The latest package to drop through the Dodgems and Floss letterbox had us somewhat intrigued. A little Toblerone-shaped piece of plastic in a discrete cardboard box, with a little note saying we’d switched it on when we removed it from the packaging. Project Beacon is apparently the project to which this belongs. From what I can gather, this little device, using Bluetooth Low Energy (or BLE), helps devices with location services enabled determine that they’re in/near our studio, making us easier to find and helping give accurate data for ‘busy times.’
So what is it?
I say ‘from what I can gather’ because the information that comes with the beacon is scarce to say the least. Google wants you to stick it up high, away from the walls, but that’s about as much as you’re going to glean from the literature. Indeed, one of the first posts I found online about Project Beacon was a chap saying he’d returned his because it didn’t seem to do anything and he assumed it was faulty.
So. To what extent is it acceptable to send people little unsolicited trackers that help feed the Google machine even more information, without giving them detailed information about what it does and what information it will allow Google to collect?
Does it work with iPhones, or is it just ones running Android? Does it pose any security risks, or could it interfere with any of our other equipment?
Is it any good?
From a marketing perspective I can see how these devices could be a great tool in the ever-expanding arsenal of ‘getting noticed.’ But, personally, I find the whole thing just slightly creepy… and if our customers start receiving them I’ll be ensuring that we can arm them with a lot more information than Google has so that they can decide whether using it is the right thing for them and their business.