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Swirl Networks Unveils ‘Extra-Energized’ Beacon

The company’s newest proximity device comes with a six-year battery life and compatibility with all major formats, including Google’s Eddystone.

An older model Swirl beacon is shown here.
An older model Swirl beacon is shown here.

Proximity marketing platform Swirl Networks is releasing what it says is the industry’s “most advanced, secure, and longest-lasting battery powered” Bluetooth beacon that is expected to last six years on one charge.

On top of the obvious cost-savings of not having to replace or repair individual beacons — many of which tend to have a life expectancy of a little over a year — the Boston-based location tech company hopes to differentiate itself from the increasingly crowded marketplace by identifying as a more reliable partner.

To give its beacons the “Energizer Bunny quality” of long-lasting use, Swirl worked with Texas Instruments on its SimpleLink CC2640 wireless microcontroller. That processor requires 40 percent less energy than chipsets used by most other beacon vendors, Swirl said.

The beacons will run on four AA batteries and an integrated real-time clock with “standby mode” that allows retailers to turn beacon broadcasts off during non-business hours. Swirl estimates its beacon offers a battery life that is two to three times that of most other beacons in the market today.

“Texas Instruments has a history of building groundbreaking chips that serve as the backbone for innovative [Internet of Things] products,” said Amit Hammer, business line director, wireless connectivity solutions at TI, in a statement. “The SimpleLink Bluetooth Smart CC2640 wireless MCU provides industry leading ultra-low power and performance and we’re thrilled it is being used as the foundation for Swirl’s next-generation beacon hardware.”

The rollout of Swirl’s latest beacon comes on the heels of the company being granted its first US patent. Last month, Swirl was tapped to run the beacon program on behalf of Elle magazine’s Shop Now promotion in honor of its 30th anniversary. The brands launching with Shop Now! include Barnes & NobleLevi’sVince Camuto, and Guess.

This past April, Swirl raised an $18 million third funding round from Twitter Ventures and the investment arm of Hearst, impressed by its roster of high-profile clients, including Lord & Taylor, Urban Outfitters, Timberland, Kenneth Cole, Alex and Ani, among others.

Swirl's Hilmi Ozguc
Swirl’s Hilmi Ozguc

Apart from battery life, Swirl notes that its beacons are also compatible with all the major industry-standard beacon protocols including Apple iBeacon and Google Eddystone, as well as its own Swirl SecureCast.

Among the beacon’s other features:

  • Automated provisioning and bulk configuration capabilities that promise a fast, easy, and above all, large-scale installation
  • A cloud-based software platform for real-time beacon monitoring as well remote beacon configuration, such as through Swirl-provided dashboard or app control
  • Encrypted beacon broadcasts that provide protection against beacon hacking, cloning and spoofing (safety is another area rivals like Kontakt.io are trying to deliver on as a way to separate it from the crowd)
  • Over-the-air firmware updates that enable automated access to the latest beacon protocols and technology advances without costly manual intervention

“As retailers deploy beacons nationwide, they need to develop an infrastructure that is highly secure and easily maintained,” said Swirl CEO/founder Hilmi Ozguc. “Our newest beacon has been built to deliver on every level, from battery life to security and fleet management tools. For retailers, these new capabilities provide them with unparalleled flexibility, while significantly reducing the complexity and overall cost of maintaining their large-scale beacon networks.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.