Samsung readies its Apple iBeacon challenger, Proximity

Samsung reveals its designs on making its own devices more fully functional beacons for marketers.

Samsung has added another arrow in its Internet of Things  quiver: technology that appears to be its answer to Apple's own location-based marketing efforts.

Samsung has launched a new website detailing its ambitions to enter the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) location-based marketing sphere, in a move that shows Apple's iBeacon business  isn't the only game in town.

Called Samsung Proximity, the mobile marketing platform "connects consumers with places via Samsung's location and context aware technology", which consists of third-party beacons that interact with the Samsung Proximity Service app. In addition, it offers marketers a web console for that includes elements such as location and campaign management and analytics.

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Samsung hopes the technology will be installed in stores, restaurants, shopping malls, airports, stadiums, and museums, with the idea that they will be able to offer special deals, coupons, pre-order and pick-up services as well as floor plans and mobile tours.

Samsung currently has four beacon hardware partners: GigaLane, Radius Networks, Roximity, and Swirl.

A key feature of Samsung’s Proximity is its Placedge SDK for developers that allows apps installed on Samsung devices to both detect BLE signals transmitted from retail stores and to transmit beacon signals in order to fetch contextual content such as coupons from the cloud.

As Samsung notes, the SDK addresses a shortcoming in Android that's held back Samsung devices acting as a beacon — a problem that its partner Radius Networks has also been working on.

"Placedge uses Bluetooth to send and transmit micro-location data to Samsung smart devices. Bluetooth technology consists of two different modes – central and peripheral. A device in central mode scans and searches for beacon advertisements, while a device in peripheral mode transmits advertisements to other devices. Currently, Android provides built-in support for central mode BLE only. Samsung Placedge SDK allows Samsung devices to utilize peripheral mode as well," Samsung said.

The Placedge SDK APIs only work on Samsung devices running Android 4.3 or above that also support Bluetooth 4.0 or above.

Another key SDK that Samsung has recently opened up to developers is SAMI (or the Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions), as well as taking the covers off its second iteration of its reference model Simband wearable.

Combined, the two underpin Samsung's vision for a new push into health-focused wearables, going beyond the functionality offered by its current line such as the Gear S. The reference design includes a sensor to measure changes in blood flow, an ECG to measure the wearer's heartbeat, a sensor to measure the electrical conductivity of the skin, and a sensor to measure skin temperature.

SAMI's first step is focussed on gathering and making sense of health data but Samsung envisions the platform to aggregate data from all smart things, such as applications in the home and car.

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