Qualcomm Launches 'Gimbal' Bluetooth LE iBeacon Competitor

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Qualcomm has announced the launch of its Gimbal proximity beacons, which are designed to work similarly to Apple's own iBeacons. Like iBeacons, Qualcomm's proximity beacons serve as physical Bluetooth access points that interact with apps on iPhones and iPads over Bluetooth LE.

Qualcomm's overall Gimbal platform is billed as a "context aware" proximity platform allowing brands to deliver information to customers based on physical location, activity, time, and personal interests.

Gimbal helps increase the relevance of content delivered to end users' devices, filtering out the irrelevant and offering more personalized experiences, thereby allowing retailers, venues, content providers and developers to send personalized high-value content to enhance their users' mobile devices.
The Gimbal beacons, which support iOS out of the box with an accompanying SDK that can be built into apps, come in two different sizes that are accurate down to one foot both indoors and outdoors. The Series 10 beacons cost as little as $5, while the larger Series 20 beacons start at $10. Individual iBeacon-compatible beacons from other companies are more expensive, at approximately $100 for three.

Apple's iBeacons, first introduced earlier this year at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, are already in use in a number of different locations.

Back in November, Shopkick teamed up with Macy's to debut the first retail-based iBeacons, allowing customers to find location-specific deals and recommendations within the app while visiting a participating Macy's store.

iBeacons have also been installed in Apple retail stores, giving in-store notifications through the company's Apple Store app. Along with retail applications, one publishing startup is using the technology to deliver free magazines, and Major League Baseball also plans to incorporate iBeacons into stadiums next year.

With iOS support, Qualcomm's Gimbal proximity beacons will be indistinguishable from Apple's iBeacons to end users, giving merchants and retailers a suitable alternative to Apple's technology. Apple does have an edge, however, as iPhones and iPads can potentially be configured as both iBeacon receivers and transmitters, skirting the need for a separate piece of hardware.

Article Link: Qualcomm Launches 'Gimbal' Bluetooth LE iBeacon Competitor
 

TMay

macrumors 68000
Dec 24, 2001
1,520
1
Carson City, NV
iBeacons just a generic term?

Not sure that it matters all that much to Apple who the beacon provider is. The most important aspect is that iOS users, and smartphones with BLE support will be able to use "beacons" anywhere there is app support.

Yet more bad news for NFC with Qualcomm's very low pricing; could be 10's of millions of beacons in retail by end of next quarter.

Edit: iBeacons is both trademarked and copyrighted, but the functionality is open.
 

coolfactor

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2002
4,584
4,590
Vancouver, BC
Not sure that it matters all that much to Apple who the beacon provider is.
From what I understand, the two protocols are not compatible. Qualcomm's solution is separate from Apple's. Retailers would need to implement both iBeacons and Gimbal beacons, both in their retail stores and their apps, and they'll likely choose the cheaper of the two thereby rendering Apple's solution a less attractive option.
 

Kenrik

macrumors 6502
Dec 21, 2004
332
49
This post is factually lacking.

Sanity below.

iBeacons cost about $5 each too - the issue is that the companies charging $100 for three are trying to make money before people notice that you can get them that cheap (go check Alibaba). They are almost all based off the same Texas Instruments BTLE platform/chip, Qualcomm can't get the same level of background performance/features in their software since they don't have the OS access required. iBeacons are a better platform, someone just needs to make an Android SDK that's iBeacon compatible and we're golden. (Apple can't prevent that: they just broadcast Major/Minor values to any device listening) Anyone who has worked with bluetooth stack on a software level knows I speak the truth.

Link to one of many iBeacon listings $5-$10 based on volume - http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/1474488885/UUID_Programmable_CC2541_Module_Built_in.html
 
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Kenrik

macrumors 6502
Dec 21, 2004
332
49
From what I understand, the two protocols are not compatible. Qualcomm's solution is separate from Apple's. Retailers would need to implement both iBeacons and Gimbal beacons, both in their retail stores and their apps, and they'll likely choose the cheaper of the two thereby rendering Apple's solution a less attractive option.
Nope - See my post ^ Above.

----------

https://manager.gimbal.com/fee-schedule

So if your store sees 10k users a month you're going to be paying $600+ in licensing fees? The $100 3 pack of iBeacons is starting to sound like a better deal.
Vs - none with Apple and being able to purchase the hardware cheap ($5) from China. Having worked with a lot of BTLE stuff using CoreBluetooth the iBeacon stuff is a cakewalk compared.
 
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TMay

macrumors 68000
Dec 24, 2001
1,520
1
Carson City, NV
This post is factually lacking.

Sanity below.

iBeacons cost about $5 each too - the issue is that the companies charging $100 for three are trying to make money before people notice that you can get them that cheap (go check Alibaba). They are almost all based off the same Texas Instruments BTLE platform/chip, Qualcomm can't get the same level of background performance/features in their software since they don't have the OS access required. iBeacons are a better platform, someone just needs to make an Android SDK that's iBeacon compatible and we're golden. (Apple can't prevent that: they just broadcast Major/Minor values to any device listening) Anyone who has worked with bluetooth stack on a software level knows I speak the truth.

Link to one of many iBeacon listings $5-$10 based on volume - http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/1474488885/UUID_Programmable_CC2541_Module_Built_in.html
I agree.

Please feel free to add more details; from my limited knowledge, Apple's suite of premium hardware will drive higher usage patterns than Android or Windows Phone, but (most) anybody with BTLE will be able to use the beacons.
 

linuxcooldude

macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2010
2,477
5,985
From what I understand, the two protocols are not compatible. Qualcomm's solution is separate from Apple's. Retailers would need to implement both iBeacons and Gimbal beacons, both in their retail stores and their apps, and they'll likely choose the cheaper of the two thereby rendering Apple's solution a less attractive option.
It suppose to support iOS out of the box and have an SDK to allow developers to use it in apps.
 

Kenrik

macrumors 6502
Dec 21, 2004
332
49
I agree.

Please feel free to add more details; from my limited knowledge, Apple's suite of premium hardware will drive higher usage patterns than Android or Windows Phone, but (most) anybody with BTLE will be able to use the beacons.
iBeacon adoption would be a net win for all vendors/phones regardless of if they are Apple since it's an open protocol (on the beacon side) and any BTLE compatible device can listen/use them and anyone can make them.
 

supersalo

macrumors 6502
May 14, 2010
383
133
This post is factually lacking.

Sanity below.

iBeacons cost about $5 each too - the issue is that the companies charging $100 for three are trying to make money before people notice that you can get them that cheap (go check Alibaba). They are almost all based off the same Texas Instruments BTLE platform/chip, Qualcomm can't get the same level of background performance/features in their software since they don't have the OS access required. iBeacons are a better platform, someone just needs to make an Android SDK that's iBeacon compatible and we're golden. (Apple can't prevent that: they just broadcast Major/Minor values to any device listening) Anyone who has worked with bluetooth stack on a software level knows I speak the truth.

Link to one of many iBeacon listings $5-$10 based on volume - http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/1474488885/UUID_Programmable_CC2541_Module_Built_in.html

Those beacons look to be the same ones that StickNFind is using. And in my testing, they're pure garbage. Add on top of that StickNFind's crappy SDK and you've got a steaming pile.
 

Zerilos

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2012
903
24
This post is factually lacking.

Sanity below.

iBeacons cost about $5 each too - the issue is that the companies charging $100 for three are trying to make money before people notice that you can get them that cheap (go check Alibaba). They are almost all based off the same Texas Instruments BTLE platform/chip, Qualcomm can't get the same level of background performance/features in their software since they don't have the OS access required. iBeacons are a better platform, someone just needs to make an Android SDK that's iBeacon compatible and we're golden. (Apple can't prevent that: they just broadcast Major/Minor values to any device listening) Anyone who has worked with bluetooth stack on a software level knows I speak the truth.

Link to one of many iBeacon listings $5-$10 based on volume - http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/1474488885/UUID_Programmable_CC2541_Module_Built_in.html
Not sure Apple even cares. The success of this technology works to Apple's benefit regardless who manufactures the device. Most iPhone are equipped to use it while most Android devices are not, in the next 10 years nobody in North America will even care about NFC anymore, particularly when this tech starting being used for payments.
 

Iconoclysm

macrumors 68020
May 13, 2010
2,371
1,637
Washington, DC
Not sure Apple even cares. The success of this technology works to Apple's benefit regardless who manufactures the device. Most iPhone are equipped to use it while most Android devices are not, in the next 10 years nobody in North America will even care about NFC anymore, particularly when this tech starting being used for payments.
Who cares about NFC in North America like, ever? Since the first plans for Bluetooth payment as far back as 2001, I've been waiting for this to happen. As far as NFC's utility, I think barcodes are an even better way to go since you need close proximity anyway and mostly every POS is already equipped with a barcode scanner...NFC was something in between that really doesn't make any logical sense.
 
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