Although this is recently-introduced technological term, it is not difficult to explain …
What are Beacons?
A Beacon is a, normally small, device that emits signals.
The signals are emitted with BLE, or Bluetooth Low Energy, technology. BLE technology is a great step forward with respect to its predecessor as it considerably reduces battery consumption in mobile devices.
And what are the advantages?
They are small, no larger than a coin, and this makes them easy to fit. They are discreet and easy to install.
Low consumption, with very long-lasting batteries. A button battery lasts up to 2 years.
This signal can be received by other devices: this signal is interpreted by other receiver devices with which a communications channel is established that remains active while they are in range.
The signal identifies the Beacon uniquely, as each one has its own number that identifies it and there can therefore be no doubts as to the physical origin of the signal.
Distance: the received signal is stronger or weaker depending how close I am to the Beacon emitting it. This means that it is possible to calculate how far away it is.
It geolocalises users of mobile devices … which are usually the receivers of the signal.
Apple has given it a strong push (they have launched it as iBeacons) based on the iOS 7 operating system
And these devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) are never separated from us … The consumers.