Many retailers are placing beacons, or small, low-powered devices that will talk to your smartphone over Wi-Fi, to track consumers and even offer them coupon or incentives to purchase products.
"Beacons are simply a way to create more intimacy between the brand and the consumers," John Mellor, vice president of business development and strategy at Adobe, told Press:Here.
Retailers aren't the only users, though. Levi's Stadium has around 1,000 of them to guide attraction-goers around the stadium venue, Press:Here's Scott McGrew pointed out.
While the beacon does track consumers, it's supposed to only transmit a signal to communicate with a wireless device and doesn't keep or download any information, so privacy is supposed to stay intact. Those being sought out by beacons have already downloaded a retailer or other app and that gives the user the ability to set permissions -- including making one's location available or not. A person doesn't have to be sent coupons or deals if he or she doesn't want to see them.
Mellor said that beacons are still very much in the experimental stage, so we don't know what they can become.
"I think we’re very early in understanding what kind of data this gives to a retailer, or even a manufacturer, and how that data will be used," Mellor said. "I think the use cases are really just scratching the surface."