Mister Beacon Episode #46

Indoor Location Revisited - Pointr Labs

August 07, 2017

How are Indoor location systems evolving? What are Gatwick Airport and Harrod’s doing with this technology? Hear why a leader in indoor location is adding asset tracking features to their product. Mr. Beacon goes back to London to speak with Chris Charles, COO of Pointr Labs about why one of the UK's largest travel hubs and most prestigious retailer are using their services with Bluetooth beacons on a major scale.


  • Steve Statler 00:14

    Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. My name is Steve Statler of Wiliot and I'm back in London, this is kind of cool, because the very first person that I interviewed on this series 46 episodes ago was Chris Charles is the Chief Operating Officer of Pointr. And so I'm going to be talking to him about three things a little bit about how their products evolving some of their customers. And also we're just talking about the industry and how that's changed as well. So Chris, let's start off and just give us like a reminder for the people and didn't see the first episode, what do you guys do at Pointr.

    Chris Charles 00:52

    So we specialize in deep location, which means that we understand and use micro location data inside venues to do a wide range of things, everything from asset tracking, user tracking, to navigation, to messaging, interaction, to do analytics, all sorts of things based on the location.

    Steve Statler 01:14

    And what are some of the things we were talking about asset tracking, what are the areas where people are looking to track assets, what sort of objects?

    Chris Charles 01:25

    All sorts really, so there's, there's transport operators wanting to help people track their bags. As security risks grow in transport hubs, helping keep helping people keep track of their bags is becoming more and more important. In office environments where you might have certain bits of technology that are moving around definitely in hospitals as well. You get really expensive bits of kit in hospitals that you can lose quite easily or can get put in a room and someone forgets about them. So we're seeing kind of more industrial use cases for for tracking but with with a with a kind of consumer usage and transport hubs.

    Steve Statler 02:05

    Tell us a bit about what's happened to your product in the last year.

    Chris Charles 02:08

    So our products clearly evolved quite a lot. Every every new customer that we take on wants to do something slightly different. And as a result, our products got a lot broader. Lots of new, lots of new features, and slight changes in the way things work. integrations with other systems so that people can do quite complex marketing and push campaigns people doing really cool analytics with it. People doing lots of tracking. So there's it's definitely broadened significantly in our in our use case portfolio.

    Steve Statler 02:44

    And you've added some asset tracking, is that correct?

    Chris Charles 02:47

    We do a bit of asset tracking, we definitely see it as a big growth area. I think that at the moment, with beacons being still fairly expensive per beacon. There are only expensive items that you can track but we expect as as beacons evolve, you'll be able to track all sorts of items as as the price has dropped.

    Steve Statler 03:10

    So let's talk a bit about your customers. Things have moved on very well. You got a lot of publicity around Gatwick Airport, what are they using Pointr for?

    Chris Charles 03:19

    So Gatwick really focusing on improving the user experience? Across the airport, they're investing loads into all sorts of new technologies to try and improve the transport journey. And we're seeing that come through as integration with airlines to help people navigate to things with notifications to help people on their journey. Make sure that people are aware of gait changes and all sorts of things to help help passengers move through the app through the airport really efficiently for the airport and efficiently for the for the passenger.

    Steve Statler 03:53

    How far things got in terms of the deployment of they got beacons deployed now?

    Chris Charles 03:58

    Gatwick has full beacon deployment. And now it's working on integrations and use cases ready for ready for the public to start using it.

    Steve Statler 04:07

    Very cool. And the other customer that is super famous on your site is Harrods. Can you say anything about what how is he using your product for?

    Chris Charles 04:19

    Harrods, Harrods the same really it's it's helping people find the things they're looking for in the shop. Harrods is notoriously hard to navigate and easy to get lost in and wants to provide a supreme experience for customers. So it's a it's a perfect, a perfect partner to work with.

    Steve Statler 04:38

    So if I want to like buy half a dozen frozen quails, which I know they do sell, but I don't know where they are. It's a huge store. So presumably I just searched for quail.

    Chris Charles 04:50

    Not sure about searching for quail. It's probably a fairly unique search term. But you could definitely search for the meat counter or the fish counter or whatever and it will take you there okay.

    Steve Statler 05:00

    So it's not product level search, it's kind of its product level in some categories, okay? Unless they have a quail department? Probably not.

    Chris Charles 05:06

    No, it can do some products. It doesn't, it goes to level in some categories.

    Steve Statler 05:12

    Any other customers that you can talk about? These things tend to be very sensitive, I realized

    Chris Charles 05:19

    I would just say, have a look at our website, and we will release new information when we can.

    Steve Statler 05:24

    Okay, very diplomatic. Let's just finish off and chat a bit about the industry. year ago, think back to a year ago, what was your view of the industry, then? And how has it changed in this last year?

    Chris Charles 05:42

    So I think originally, I was very optimistic about the industry, I still am very optimistic about the industry, but the industry has matured in that process. So there were lots of people looking to do all sorts of trials to do different things to try and understand the technology better. What we see has happened is that those trials and investigations have happened, some have been successful, in which case, we're seeing the clients have found very positive results and are progressing with the technology. Other trials have been unsuccessful, and some customers have not necessarily customers, some some industry companies have have decided to drop the technology because they didn't get the results they were looking for. So understanding of the industry and understanding of beacons has improved greatly. But obviously, there have been bad experiences along the along the way, because people haven't, not everyone has the right technology or the right approach and understanding to deliver a good product. But we do tend to find that after understanding what happened, we're able to provide a service that doesn't meet the requirements, and therefore we're still seeing a very good uplift in people contacting us to say, we tried this before but didn't work. Why can you help us? What would what would? What would be different? And how would? How would How would you make sure that it works. So we're definitely seeing a lot of positivity in the industry, even if it's starts from a failed experience.

    Steve Statler 07:11

    Are there other use cases that you've decided that you thought were kind of going to be very successful that you would steer clear of now and other ones that weren't on your radar that you think are promising?

    Chris Charles 07:26

    I wouldn't have said that's changed very much, I would have said that the biggest changes or not necessarily changed, but the biggest thing to focus on is that you're always creating a good user experience. And so long as you're always delivering a great user experience that's helping people, then the uptake will be good. If you don't if you don't get that right, then apps will fail. Apps fail every day, probably hundreds of apps fail every day. And typically, I think that's because they haven't delivered the right experience for the user. They may be delivering something for the company. But unless you get the user experience, right, then that's probably the biggest bit.

    Steve Statler 08:06

    Yeah, you're dependent on them seeing value and therefore using it. So I'm gonna go back to the kind of this functionality area and maybe ask it in a slightly different way. So if are they kind of areas where people want beacons to do things where you have to kind of re educate them and say, well, actually, it's not going to be like, that's probably not a good thing to do, you should think about this.

    Chris Charles 08:35

    So I wouldn't have said that we have to re educate customers. But I would say that typically when we start a relationship, there's there is definitely a discussion point, which is making sure that they have a full understanding of what is possible, what isn't possible, what's recommended, what's not what's industry practice what's not, and making sure that they are therefore designing and developing a the best the best product possible, as opposed to something that they want to do. But either the technology doesn't suit or that users might not adopt in the same way that they would hope to.

    Steve Statler 09:13

    So you know, what, what are your expectations on growth? Do you see steady growth? Or do you think there's things happening where you're going to see growth really pick up?

    Chris Charles 09:22

    Pointr's seeing a big uplift in new customers contacting us? It's a great cyclical process where the more successful projects and customers that we have, the more the more people contact us to try new things and experiment with the technology again to try and deliver a successful product this time. So we're seeing a big uplift in in projects coming through at the moment.

    Steve Statler 09:48

    Very good. Charles, thanks very much for talking with us. Thanks. Okay, was the toughest question of the interview. What are the songs three songs that you would take two minutes?

    Chris Charles 10:09

    I would go for genres of music and I couldn't pick an individual song. I'm a classical man. So I would like it is I don't know, like 60s or 80s. Awesome nice piano concertos. And I might go for some more modern chill out music. If I was ready to chill out from alone on Mars, I maybe need to chill out a lot. A lot. Yeah.

    Steve Statler 10:31

    Alright. Very good. Thanks a lot.