Improved experiences and innovative navigation systems - the smarter office is underway thanks to tiny devices called beacons.

This post is the first of a three-part series on workplace innovations.

Beacons have already percolated into high-traffic spaces like airports, museums, stadiums and even retail stores. In recent years, this Bluetooth smart technology has also expanded to the workplace with many companies jumping on the bandwagon.

What are beacons?

Beacons are small, low-cost, low-powered devices that can be used to deliver location-aware, context-aware messages. They can be likened to small computers which broadcast radio signal. Those signal are, in turn, picked up and interpreted by your phone. Personalized content is then displayed as a notification on your screen. Nearby screens can also be used to display relevant information.

There are several major beacon hardware on the market: Estimote, Gimbal, Gelo, Glimworm, BlueSense, and Kontakt. Among these, Estimote is one of the most well-known manufacturers.

location beacons for a smart office

How can beacons help you manage a smarter office?

Navigation

Larger office spaces are trickier to navigate and beacons can remedy to that by guiding new guests or prospects to a particular room, thus cutting a lot of wasted time.

Footfall

Beacons can help identify high and low-traffic areas in your office. In large offices, in particular, gathering location data of all employees can help you determine which areas are more used than others. This information can be shared with, say, the lighting department to help you run a greener office.

proximity beacons estimote

Office layout

Based on the location data of employees, you could design a smarter office, tweak desk layouts based on where staff actually moves around at work.

Office management

Beacons can facilitate booking conference rooms in busy offices. For this application, beacons must be installed at the entrance of every conference room and employees need to install an app on their phones. Based on information from the beacons, employees can check if the room is free, and book accordingly, or, if already occupied, find out when the meeting will be over.

estimote beacon

Check out the next post on Workplace Innovations, featuring high-tech Ketra lighting.

Made in Bulgaria, raised in Morocco, "matured" in the UK, Elissaveta is our Editor-in-Chief. Her career started in the field of architecture and design where she developed a talent for creative thinking and an eye for aesthetics. In 2014, she found her calling in design journalism and now has over three years’ experience in writing about design & architecture.