Omnifi Box Beacon

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What is it?

The Box Beacon is an experimental product that we have developed as an offshoot of our Omnibeacon Physical Web Platform. On basic level it is a self-contained Physical Web Beacon that is attached to product packaging (or similar) and activated when the packaging is opened. As far as we know it’s the first application of Physical Web technology to do this and we’ve called it a Box Beacon.

 

Why did we create it?

After launching our MVP Physical Web Platform we started to look at ways this technology could be harnessed to deliver better customer experiences.

We knew from discussions with clients with high-value physical products that getting users to register their products was a challenge. We also knew that complex products were also often challenging to set-up and that nobody (especially men) really liked reading manuals.

So the product is designed for brands that want to connect with customers in the home environment, after the product has been bought. The value for brands is that they have a mechanic for capturing customer data, beginning a dialogue with customers, as well as maximising customer product awareness and satisfaction.

For the end user the product is designed to be a useful aid to first-time product usage (e.g. set-up) and an easy way to register products for warranty purposes etc.

We’ve suggested some potential use cases later on.

box beacon photoshopped
The Box Beacon unit - showing the metallic strip intact.

How it works

The Box Beacon is a battery powered Physical Web beacon that is attached to the inside of product packaging and remains inactive (invisible) until the product is opened for the first time. The Box Beacon is activated by breaking a metalic strip which is fixed across the box opening.

 

4 photoshopped
The Box Beacon in its ‘wrapper’ - an adhesive layer that is attached to the inside of the box.

Before the circuit is broken, the Box Beacon is in a deep sleep state. In this state the device just continuously checks if the metallic strip is intact. When the strip is broken, the Beacon is put into active mode. At this point the device starts to act like a normal Physical Web beacon, transmitting a URL, which appears on nearby users’ devices as a notification.

We estimate that the battery can last for 2-3 years before being activated (i.e. in deep sleep mode) and then can run for 2 months once active mode is triggered. The URL transmitted can be modified at anytime from our Physical Web Platform.

 

Product Teardown.

box beacon teardown

 

  1. BLE112 Bluetooth Low Energy module – with integrated antenna and flashed with our Omnibeacon firmware
  2. A custom PCB – designed in house by our Head of Engineering containing a low power microcontroller (and mounting for BLE module and battery)
  3. A metallic copper strip (shown detached)
  4. Switch contacts (copper strip is attached here to prime the Beacon)
  5. 3V BR1225 battery and holder
  6. Adhesive backed paper Beacon ‘wrapper’ with perforated join (aligned to contact end of copper strip)

 

Potential use cases

The Box Beacon is effectively activated by a switch, and this switch could be in the form of a breakable metallic strip as in our prototype, or simply a set of contacts embedded into another mechanism, such as a door.  

 

We’ve come up with a few use cases, but imagine there are many more.

 

  • The Box Beacon could transmit assembly instructions for flat pack furniture in place of a physical manual. Activated once the packaging is opened, the URL could lead to interactive instructions, or even a Web AR experience.
  • The Box Beacon could be activated when a car door, glove compartment or hood is opened, giving the user relevant information.
  • The Box Beacon could be activated when a new boiler, or high-value white goods are installed, allowing the user to instantly register the product via a unique URL

If you want to find out more about the Box Beacon or Physical Web technology get in touch here.

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