2013 REALTORS® Conference & Expo Preview: HomeBeacon

iBeacon: A new technology with massive potential for real estate pros

At this year’s World Wide Developer Conference, Apple subtly introduced a new feature called “iBeacon” with just a single bullet point on a slide presentation. However, there’s a growing buzz about this technology that actually has a ton of potential for real estate agents and brokers. The name iBeacon is an Apple brand name for a technology called Bluetooth Low Energy or (BLE). BLE allows mobile devices to recognize when they are near a small wireless sensor called a beacon and then exchange data with the beacon.

It may sound kind of geeky, but iBeacon (BLE) opens up a whole range of possibilities for interacting with and providing information to your buyers and sellers that has never existed. Unlike QRCodes, iBeacon doesn’t require the client to walk up and scan a code to get information. Whenever someone is within range of a beacon, apps can wake up automatically to provide relevant information based on the context of their location. Plus, the information doesn’t have to be one-way. Being able to exchange data with beacons provides a lot of interesting possibilities for feedback and interaction with your clients.

We’re excited to announce our newest app, HomeBeacon, which we’ll be previewing at the REALTORS Conference and Expo in San Francisco this November.

We can’t say too much about it now – you’ll want to visit our booth (#6068) to see it live – but we did want to leave you with a couple of excellent potential uses.

Scenario 1: Listing Presentations and Tracking Physical Visits

You’ve just secured a listing agreement and before you leave, you take a small, egg-sized device and stick it in the corner of one of the windows in front of the house. Later, as potential buyers with a BLE enabled device (like an iPhone and Android) drive by the house, their phone wakes up and alerts them that information is available about this house. They swipe or tap an icon, and suddenly they’re looking at a full listing presentation about the house. Another tap and they’re calling your mobile to set up an appointment to see it. Or, you get a notification that they drove up and parked in front of the house for 5 minutes. So not only can beacons be used to push information, they can be used to gather information also. Google Analytics can tell you how many times someone visited your web site and how long they were there. BLE can tell you how many people physically visited one of your listings, if they came back more than once, and how long they hung around.

Scenario 2: Electronic Open House Guided Tour

Visitors to your next open house are alerted on their mobile device as they walk though the door that a personalized electronic guided tour is available. As they walk from room to room, specific features about the amenities of each room are presented to them and they’re given the opportunity to provide feedback on what they like and what they don’t. As they enter the kitchen, the guided tour gives extra information about the high-end Viking range because “a modern high-end kitchen” is on her “must have” list. In the theater room, he gets an overview of the technology behind the AV system because a “man cave” is high on his wish list. As they leave, the app gives them information about the neighborhood including median sales price for homes in the neighborhood in the past year, and nearby shopping and entertainment. Then it automatically adds them to the electronic visitor list and sends them an email thanking them for stopping by. With three beacons in a building, BLE devices are able to know their exact position in the building without using GPS technology. This enables apps to provide specific information based on context like where the person is standing or what room they are in.

We’re excited about the possibilities of integrating this technology into our agent product ecosystem. Stop by our booth at the REALTORS® Conference and Expo this year to learn more about how you can use this and other technologies to generate and manage leads and close more deals.