Mister Beacon Episode #31
The Physical Web Revisited - BkonMarch 16, 2017
The Physical Web has huge potential to change the way web content and services are discovered in the physical world. We talk to Richard Graves, the CEO of Bkon, a company who have gone “all in” on the Physical Web and Eddystone URL. We learn about a massive change that Google is poised to make in how PW content is discovered, how PW content can shrink the cost of apps, the personalization of PW content, examples of where it is being used and how PW discovery, NFC and QR codes are being made to work together.
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Richard Graves 00:04
What is different about the physical web is it brings physical interactions into the world of search in browsers. If the Physical Web moves to omnibox, it would be front and center. And it would create a you know, a fascinating dynamic in that now, property rights translate directly into digital marketing, right? You sit down and within 30 seconds of sitting down, the barista came to us and said, Why is this URL hooked up on my phone? It's for the good traveler. Is this something to do with you? And I was just completely bowled over. And that was the end of the conversation about whether we should deploy the beaker is like, Oh, this is amazing. We've done an awful lot. Making beacons simple to the floor. You can take 1000 of our beacons, randomly mail them out any place. You can do 100% of a deployment of our product. Without handling the beacons themselves to having a Live app in the App Store with three days from the time the ballpark gave us the go ahead to go do it. Yeah, the branded app.
You're listening to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem with Steve Statler.
Steve Statler 01:26
Welcome to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem, the podcast for location aware solution designers and entrepreneurs. This week we are in Nashville, Tennessee, the capital of music is that the tagline for Music City, USA. So I'm here with Richard Graves, who is the founder and CEO of Bkon, who are a pioneering company in the Physical Web. If you have ever watched any of the Google videos on the Physical Web, sometimes they use a beacon to illustrate what they're doing. And quite often it's it's a Bkon beacon, spelled B k o n, right. So Richard, thanks very much for coming. And seeing me as I was in town, I was here for a conference and I just couldn't resist looking up and chatting with you. Steve, thank you appreciate the invite. And we've we've done a little bit of work together over I mean, you provided some great input as I was writing the book, Hey, I just gotta mention something, there's going to be a hissing sound in the background of this interview, it sounds a bit like a waterfall. And that's because there is a waterfall, a really huge one outside the window of the room where Richard and I are talking. So try to ignore it, don't just your headset, it's a wonderful Hitchhiker's Guide to the ecosystem beacon technologies book. And since then we've worked on a couple of projects. So maybe we'll talk about that. But things I'd like to cover in this conversation are, you've got some new news coming out. And so we're going to embargo this until we can talk about it talk about your product. Before we get there. Let's just talk about physical where most people who watch the podcast know what the Physical Web is. But we're going to do a really fast intro. But what I really want to get in with into with you is what you have learnt about the physical web in terms of what it takes to deploy a solution and make it work and where we are and where you think we're likely to go. So I think everyone should be interested in that. Before we get into that. Let's just introduce beacon. And can you tell us give us kind of the elevator pitch on your company? Sure. Sure. You know, Bkon was founded in late 2013. So we've been in the beacon business. Since its inception. We entered when Apple adopted Bluetooth low energy, becoming the first cross platform beacon technology, we understood them that there were going to be hundreds of applications that they came out of the technology. Our original business plan was very similar to what the Physical Web is today, we envisioned a future a range of applications that fall out of people being able to interact with things in their environment. We support iBeacon did support it, you know when it came out. But we never put our full backing behind it because we always felt like that it was not a technology that could scale could scale in the sense that it always had guardrails. beacons are tied to apps and every time you go do a new client, it's almost like an agency or working with them to create a one off application. We wanted something that was more open, more universal that could scale globally with speed. So we sort of held back from putting too much effort into I think enough Applications saw the Physical Web early concepts from the market in late 2014. And since then put 100% of our effort into supporting the Physical Web. So we've been early adopters. And we've had very large r&d team working full time for, you know, two and a half years now. On physical web technology. How many people in the company? We have 16 employees, about half of those being developers? Cool. And you're self funded? Are you self funded? And angel investor. Angel investors, okay. And in terms of, you know, how, if I'm going to categorize what you do you use hardware. So there's a, and you have an orchestration layer, and I don't normally think about orchestration layers is the kind of campaign management and making sense of the chaos of lots of beacons in the iBeacon context, but obviously, you have really, I think one of the things I want to appeal and look into is answer. Okay, given what I've been, given what Eddystone URL is, and the Physical Web is, which is broadcasting URLs, what's there to do? So we'll go into that, but you basically have that middleware component, and you provide a little bit of analytics as well. For the Physical Web, were a complete installation. Okay, we make hardware. Yeah. We make software to manage deployment of beacons, you know, we show battery state, we keep up with revenue, management, software. We have content management, you can build web pages on our platform. We have metadata management. So the Physical Web is all is is a search technology. So you're surfacing a search results. So we independently manage the metadata, which are the incentives for people to click through to the the underlying websites. And we have, you know, what I would call a full content switch. So we can dynamically control what content appears when people select the Physical Web beacon. So we have, you know, everything end to end. It's a global platform, and you have customers now in about 40 countries, designed to be enterprise scale, and manage privacy, security, anything a fortune 500 company would walk for our global deployment of this technology.
Steve Statler 07:36
Can you talk a bit more about your customers, we're not going to go into the weeds in terms of your product yet, but it'd be great to get a sense of who's using the Physical Web, from your perspective as one of the major players providing solutions for it.
Richard Graves 07:50
You know, there's there's two flavors of the Physical Web out there, there is the, you know, the original classic, you know, open source version of the physical app, which relies upon major browsers like Chrome to surface the physical web content. There are 1000s of people that have tried that out on our platform. And I'm sure 1000s of people that have tried out Eddystone URL, Physical Web beacons, and other platforms. To date, it does not have wide adoption. Anybody that says it wouldn't be accurately reflecting that the state of it, but you know, it doesn't have adoption, because there is not consumer awareness, you can put an ad stone beacon out there, and it will broadcast content that is visible in Chrome and other physical web browsers. But there is very low consumer awareness. And, you know, the evolution of the industry has been an evolution of primarily Google, you know, trying to understand where consumers will interact with physical web data. So they initially tried it out in Chrome under notifications. They then moved it to Chrome and Android, but then they moved it out of Chrome, into nearby notifications, moved it back into Chrome, and now are considering moving it to Chrome, but in a different place, you know, rather than in Notifications, they're going to move it into Omnibox. Now I say going to do let me say that with with a caveat. It works that way on my phone right now. In that if I touch the search box.
Steve Statler 09:39
That's what omnibox is. It's the search box.
Richard Graves 09:44
If I touch it, because I have the beta version of Chrome live on my phone, if I touch it, I will immediately see nearby physical weapons. Yes, yes. So there you have captured my attention in a moment of intent. I'm looking at the screen I'm looking at where my finger is. Me immediately under my finger, I see the Physical Web because, you know, it's set up so that it's not disruptive to the normal search process. If I won't get that content served my needs, I can select it and go to it the physical if not, if not, I continue my search uninterrupted. That's not the way chrome works. That's the way I believe it will work in the next release.
Steve Statler 10:21
Okay, and so you say it works that way on your phone? Why does it work? That implies it doesn't work that way on other people.
Richard Graves 10:29
It does not work that way on other people's thoughts. You know, Google is a fairly open company. Yeah, you can go online and read about the developments going on in Chrome. So we've been following the active development of Google trialing the Physical Web, as it relates to Omnibox. It moved several weeks ago, into beta went moves into beta, it's a really on everybody's phone, you just have to turn on the beta flag, right, or why you know, when the microphone turned on the beta flag and can start using Google's omnibox.
Steve Statler 11:01
And have you turn it on just if other people want to do that?
Richard Graves 11:04
You type in Chrome, colon slash slash flags, right, hit enter. And with that, it'll come up with a couple of different flags, one of them being the Physical Web. And if you turn it off, you'll get a little warning that it's, you know, it's made up code, it's not not necessarily yet ready for primetime, no guarantees associated with it, and you can turn it on, and you will, when you search immediately see nearby physical web pages, you know, my belief is, and obviously, I don't control Google and don't have an inside track on what they're doing. But I believe this will go live in the next release of Chrome. Chrome has a new release every six weeks, it's common for stuff in beta to go live. So I believe, with I give it 70% odds that it will go live March 15. I've given 25% odds, it would go live six weeks after that, and 5%, that they won't go forward with this particular iteration of physical web.
Steve Statler 12:05
And so the, we're talking about the omnibox, which has to be one of the most, if not the most valuable piece of real estate on anyone's phone. I can't think of anything that's more valuable than the search box, right?
Richard Graves 12:17
You know, the physical web right now. surfaces in Notifications, it's a place that it's not necessarily easily seen, you know, when you ask about customers, there are a minority of customers out there that get enough traffic through notifications to be happy with their physical web. So really, there are customers out there that are satisfied with the amount of traffic they get, surfaced through that. But if the Physical Web moves to omnibox, it would be front and center. And it would create a you know, a fascinating dynamic in that now. Property Rights translate directly into digital marketing, right? Nobody can come in your store and put a beacon in there are only you have the right to put a beacon in there. Yeah. So if it's your beacon, and you control the content, you control the first content people see on a search.
Steve Statler 13:11
So I'm in a grocery store, and I'm searching for recipes, and I happen to be in the soup section. And I go into the Omnibox. And then potentially, I could have a Heinz, or some other supermarket, negotiated site that pops up in the omnibox, when I start.
Richard Graves 13:34
You would see in the search is that you would see the title of the destination website. And it could say, you know, tap here for the recipe the day, and that may attract enough of the shoppers curiosity to tap, they liked the recipe, they go buy the ingredients.
Steve Statler 13:49
Because a huge, but that would only work with Chrome browsers. Right. And it wouldn't be on the box functionality is different on Google, on Safari for your application, right?
Richard Graves 14:03
It would only work with Chrome. And you know, my understanding is that there are about a billion from users. Okay, so it's it's it's a massive audience, even though it's not, it's not a universal type. Of course, the Physical Web does still work with with other browsers. So there are other ways to get at, at the same technology. And you know, part of the, you know, alter ego of our company, is that we make any app compatible with the physical app. So if you want shoppers to be in a store, managing your app, then they can also surface physical.
Steve Statler 14:35
We'll get into that in just a second. But let's go back to how people use the Physical Web. And it's so basically the Physical Web is about discovery. It's kind of get rid of the QR code. Let's actually use radios to broadcast URLs and therefore, you know that that should make engagement easier. Scott Jensen does a great job of ridiculing QR codes. sorts of jokes and just amazing presentations. We, so you, you've been great, you've spotted some pilots that I've kicked off and one was at San Diego International Airport, it's just ramping up. Now we put our first couple of beacons in. Ryan brothers coffee stands in Terminal One, terminal two, just before security actually was before we deployed them. I was introducing them to someone at the airport, who I needed to convince that this was worth doing. And to be frank, he was pretty skeptical. It's like describing all the backward flips you had to do to see the Physical Web on an iOS device. And you have to have Chrome installed. And you have to enable it in the today widget. And no one really uses the today widget. So anyway, I bought couple of your beacons in programs to to broadcast the points to the good traveler, which was project carbon offsetting projects I've been working on. So we meet at Wright Brothers coffee, you sit down and within 30 seconds of sitting down the barista came out to us and said, Why is this URL popped up on my phone? It's for the good traveler? Is this something to do with you. And I was just completely bowled over. And that was the end of the conversation about whether we should deploy the beaker. It's like, oh, this is amazing. And so he had got it, there was kind of something that said nearby on his high end?
Richard Graves 16:30
That's nearby notifications, we invited mean to you had an Android phone, and they will natively surface Physical Web content in nearby notifications. They surface it when the phone wakes up. So you don't force them. When you wake your phone. If you look at your notifications, yes, like a web beacons will be will be embedded in that list. Now, that's, that's a fairly recent thing that that Google has got that? fluid? They did it, have some bugs moved it back to chrome did it again, you know, had a few bugs which they've worked through. And, you know, really only in our view, you know, in the last, you know, 30 days it started. Yeah, you know, like three weeks ago, this happened, right? They started working not in a nice way. And I think more people more people are are seeing enough value and utility out of the Physical Web as it works. Today, right now, to get value. Now, I can't mention their name, because I don't know the other we're allowed to. But you know, we had a major European university that has deployed, you know, 50, Physical Web beacons. And you know, they just signed up for our, you know, long term subscription to start managing dynamically managing the content, they're happy with it the way they work. Today, you know, if Google start surfacing that content through omnibox, then you know, they're going to be ecstatic because their audience is going to increase dramatically in size.
Steve Statler 18:09
Yeah, I think that nearby use case is a great one. Because if you think about it, so often the case you sit down, you go through airport security, you unlock your phone booth, that's when you want to kind of be aware of your context, you sit down at a cafe, and you sit down in a lecture hall. So so even if we just stick with what we've got, then I think it has value out of any other examples of where people are using the Physical Web, because we've you know, we've those of us who have researched it, we've seen the parking meter example and the bubble gum vending machine. And those are all very cool. Are you seeing other examples of Physical Web controlling? Going beyond notifications to actually control devices? Or is that kind of very futuristic?
Richard Graves 19:07
I don't think it's futuristic at all. I think there is huge demand. We've worked on several projects, for controlling devices with major category leading brands that are trying to drive experiences with shoppers rather than just coupons and advertisements, you know, experiences if they know of the type that a shopper may be in the aisle and interact with the brand and be dispensed the product.
Steve Statler 19:44
That's one I've come across separately as well. I'm sure it's not the same thing, major consumer brand. They, you know, it's sad, but it's replacing the people that work giving out samples in Costco or whatever that right that one works, but it's expensive. And I think this ability to have engagement and then provide a reward in an automated fashion that has likes.
Richard Graves 20:09
And, you know, controlling displays, control the display on people's phone, but you can also control displays in people's mirror environment. So there's a lot of products that that directional videos, you know, wide interaction is valuable to promoting customer loyalty or selling the product. So we're seeing a lot of people doing that. We've developed a lot of applications, you know, worked through these use cases, you know, technically creative prototypes with with big brands. And they've been waiting for the Physical Web to get a little bit more attraction for Trump. We've even had large brands that have made large beacon purchases that are still queued up to the boy, waiting till the audience is is big enough to justify so you know, as nearby notifications smooths out as the Physical Web comes to market through omnibox, or through some other near derivative to that, because I'm fairly confident, or I'm very confident that Google is working hard to put Physical Web content on the screen with where people will see it, maybe it won't get exactly as in on the box, I think it will, but I think it will be month by month, you know better than it was before. And at some point, we're going to reach the tipping point where these large brands that have been developing some of these experiences, start saying, you know, we're ready to start deployment with that will come increase consumer awareness and a ramp to the technology. But if they release omnibox, here, in a couple of weeks, I think it will happen with dramatic speed, I think there'll be a race because you'd be crazy not to have a physical web beacon in a retail store.
Steve Statler 22:09
Because the cost is so low. So the problem is at the moment, the benefit is pretty low. Because the discover it's a discoverability mechanism that's hard to discover. But that can change very, very quickly overnight. And the thing is, the cost is so low. So another example we've worked on San Diego library, they have an innovation lab where they offer free 3d printing. I've been printing a gizmo to attach beacons to pallets in a manufacturing environment. And I'm like, these guys have been really nice to me, What can I do to help like, oh, speech, Richard, see if I can give them one of his beacons. And so we did. And you know, the process, it took 10 minutes to explain it took two minutes to set the thing up with the URL of San Diego Central Library Innovation Lab. And now it broadcasts the webpage that has the opening times and that sort of thing is so so easy, versus, you know, years and years, or months and months, and hundreds of 1000s of dollars of that development. Now, it's not going to change someone's life doing that, but it's that low cost, and we just need to kind of ratchet up the benefit. And before we talk about your products, I do want to get on to what the new news is there and get into more detail about what you do. You know, what are your thoughts on iOS? Do we just sort of write it off? Or is are there enough Chrome? And opera browsers that support physical web on iOS and make this to I asked to answer that question, because with iBeacon, it was like, Oh, well, it works really well on Apple, but doesn't work very well on Chrome. And now it's on Android. Now, it's the opposite with physical Web. Do you? Is there any hope there or it's unlikely that Apple is going to jump on the Google bandwagon and support Physical Web within iOS? We do know that there are browsers that support the Physical Web that do run iOS. Do you have a sense of what the proportion is of iOS users who have physical web aware browsers running on their phone when we're talking to the marketing guy that says what about our iOS market is there?
Richard Graves 24:28
You know, this is a wild guess on my part, I have looked at off the top my head but I think it's probably in the order of magnitude of 10 or 15%.
Steve Statler 24:36
Okay, so zero is something there's certainly a way to get to it.
Richard Graves 24:42
You know. omnibox could drive much faster adoption, on iPhones, simply because if you have 50% of the population here in the US vastly more overseas. That suddenly say, I really like interacting with things surrounding the deals in the store, the product interactions, the the shortcuts, the informational content that I can get from these physical web beacons is of such value. I'm gonna start using Chrome. Because it natively surfaces, all this stuff, you know, if you have major adoption in the short term, and obviously, that drives other browser suppliers to say, we don't want to lose this audience. So I believe that rapid adoption will drive more adoption. And of course, you know, any app can support the Physical Web, and I have an iOS device and probably have 10 different apps on my phone that support the Physical Web, obviously, not a normal iPhone.
Steve Statler 25:49
Okay, so let's, let's talk about your offering. And I think people have got the sense that what you offer is the fleet management. And I mean, I have programming beacons is pretty straightforward with the apps that most vendors, supply. But what you allow is for someone to stay in their armchair or in their office, and basically take the URLs that are being broadcast, by beacons that are in place, and you enable a redirect process so that you can switch the content overnight and have have all sorts of things happen that makes management of those beacons in the Physical Web contexts a lot easier. And the thing that I hadn't realized until I kind of revisited what you guys were doing was that you're also enabling apps. So can you tell me a bit more about how you emerging Physical Web with the app space? So if I want an app, and I don't want to spend $100,000, to develop it? How could you help?
Richard Graves 27:03
Well, there? Yeah, there are a lot of facets to this, you know, there are and we've noticed, three or four that are starting to come to market, even in the last week or so as the Physical Web starts gaining steam, you're seeing more redirect platforms out there, these are platforms that enable you to embed a code, a shortened URL, there there, you know, they're glorified domain name shorteners is what physical web platforms are that allow you to redirect Physical Web content. And, you know, these platforms that are coming to market with, you know, redirect capabilities are where we were, you know, we had a live Physical Web redirect platform in the spring of 2015. So over two years, we've had, you know, live redirect capabilities. You know, since that time, you know, we really pushed the envelope of everything you could possibly do, you know, where the Physical Web can possibly go. You know, we filed six rounds of IP, you know, over the last two years, and it really pushed the envelope. And we did a lot of things that, you know, to my knowledge, no other physical or platform does, and many people told us was, you know, was technically impossible. We're the only platform that to my knowledge shows battery state on physical at Beacon without using any other ancillary. We're the only one that supports directly in a URL frame anti hijacking an anti spoofing, so we can recognize copies of our beacons in might allow them to be copy. So we have a rotating key embedded in the URL itself. That synchronized platform, we've done an awful lot. Making beacons simple to the floor, you can take 1000 of our beacons, randomly mail them out any place, you can do 100% of a deployment of our product. Without handling the beacons themselves. Nobody has to go pair with the beacon. They're all pre programmed with a physical ID that identifies the location from the instant they're installed. We can manage range control from the cloud, only in apps, but a lot of our usages in apps. So we can change range from the platform without ever interacting with beacons or beacons or even shipped in the non connectable state. You don't ever pair with them, you don't connect with them. You manage everything from the cloud, we definitely manage more context. So when a beacon broadcast we allow you to attach and embed a whole range of contextual variables to track that beacons location where the interaction occurred, you know, attach campaign variables to it etc. We allow beacons to be managed in massive groups. So you know, ours is the only platform to my knowledge, if you can take a million beacons, put them in a folder, manage them from a content perspective, you know, as a single beacon, but still Track, track each interaction.
Steve Statler 30:16
I've noticed that so even with the airport where we're looking at maybe 16 beacons, even with 16 beacons, it's useful to have some of those features too. So you're not having to type in the same mesh 16 times, because make mistakes when you do that. So it's all of that stuff. So I think we've done a great job of putting out some of the uniques. And I'm glad that you did that. But, but tell me a bit about how I can use your platform to create
Richard Graves 30:45
Well, we have a, what we call a physical SDK, we initially called it a Physical Web SDK, but called we ported all the functionality of Physical Web into an app. So we encapsulated the characteristics of a physical web browser into an SDK. So you know, like any SDK, you know, eight or 10 lines of code, and you connect them, you can immediately scan for Physical Web beacons in an app. So you know, we did that initially, because of the slowness of development of the Physical Web. at large, and we recognize that within an app, you have a captive audience, I may not be able to train the entire world, that I have a physical web beacon that I can interact with. But I can train the users of an app to say, Wow, if you want to know what's nearby, hit the nearby button in your app, you instantly scan for a nearby Physical Web time. Yeah. And we also learned from that experience fairly quickly, that, you know, in many apps, I'd call them an experiential app, not an experimental and experiential app, a lot of the content really comes from radar, if you're going to zoos, or ballparks, you know, you can provide all the content. So we did that as a pilot with a Nashville Sound of baseball stadium. And we, you know, because we're taking an SDK and really putting a brand wrapper around it, you know, from Project sign off, to having a Live app in the App Store was pretty nice. You know, from the time the ballpark gave us the go ahead to go do it, we had a branded app, live in the app store. Now, all the content and over a period of two days, we created 120 content elements that we deployed and associated with beacons in the stadium. So that when people moved around the stadium, they saw different content, they understood, you know, food and dining options, and through the dynamic management, the the sounds, were able to keep content fresh throughout the, throughout the game. And, you know, as an experiment, we even changed content to beacons as each player came to bat. So you could look, every time a player came to bat and see information, statistics, etc, about the player, that came the best that took some aptitude management, but we experimented with a lot of the different things that you could do. And you know, now we're gonna go back and do it again this year as the as the seasons wrapping up, and, you know, learn from those experiences last year, you know, but the bottom line is, if you're a zoo, or a museum or a ballpark, you can produce an app and we charge $1,000. To produce an app, we can have it live for somebody in a relatively short period of time. And then they can create and manage all their content, you know, as physical web touch points.
Steve Statler 33:51
So your for $1,000, you kind of get the shell of the app, and the content is really web content that has been triggered by physical web direct comes from beacons on the App Store less than a week $1,000. It's an app. And it's also physical web, so that people can browse with, with Chrome browsers on the billion.
Richard Graves 34:13
Follow the beauty of deploying your content, your app content, you know, through a, let me call it a physical web app, is your content, also available to people who don't have your app instantly, right out of the box, people with Chrome can interact, which creates an interesting opportunity. You know, if you really want to drive people to your app, you know, the chrome content can say, you know, here's information for better information, you know, engage with the same touch point through our app. So you know, our platform has what we call conditional content. We can have the same begun reflect different content to any number of different people based upon a lot of different variables so we can show Chrome users different content and app users, we could have 10 apps that all reflected the same beacon and every app would see different content all in, in dependently managed. So that's one of the key attributes of our platform is that it's a content switch. If you have a physical web touch point, a beacon, it has a unique ID. And if you associate that ID with content in the cloud, that's what people will see when they're near that. So in combination with an app ID, we can use those combinations to have you know, as many different derivatives of content as we want. And it's technically possible. In an app, if you tie in our platform to a personalization engine to have personalized content. You know, with a physical web beacon, you know, where the person is, you know, what they're interested in, what, what content. We know, obviously, the time, you know, when you add the app, and we also have, so then we have, you know, vast amount of contextual information. So the Physical Web is, or at least when applied to apps is perfectly positioned for personalization, in proximity marketing.
Steve Statler 36:17
You're ending the trade off between web or app, because you can have both. And really, this is an incredible platform for agencies that are servicing small and medium sized businesses, because the cost of entry is really low. And people can get contextual experiences very, very easily. I want to make sure that we don't finish this without talking about what's new. So that's something that I was aware of what's what's new?
Richard Graves 36:46
Well, you know, what's new is that we've realized that what is what is different about the physical web is that it allows, it brings physical interactions into the world of search and browsers. So you browse Physical Web content, you don't interact, you browse, the consumer gets an opportunity to save privately, they then there's a proxy server in between them in the destination context. So they get to see the metadata, they get to see the title, the description of the content and say, Yes, I want to interact. So they have a there's a intermediate step, we realize that that same intermediate step can fundamentally change if not revolutionize other technologies that are also based on URLs. And there are many other technologies that are similarly based on URLs, like NFC tags, and or camera QR codes. And, you know, we did it as an experiment. And we realized that we brought QR codes onto our platform, a lot of people laugh, and Scott makes fun of QR codes. But it absolutely transformed. The experience, you know, so much so that we talked to a brand new 200,000 square foot venue, they called us about a big IP solution. We're talking about beacons. And we said to them, you know, we want to discuss QR codes to you also. And they, you know, the response was, QR codes is dead to me, was their exact words. We said, well, five minutes, we'll just show you how it works. And we've got a different spin on QR codes. And after 30 minutes, they said, We're ready for a full deployment system wide, and we'd like it done in the next two weeks. So we're actively right now in the process of doing a major deployment of next beacons and QR codes. So the nice thing about beacons and QR codes and or NFC tags is they're all physical touch points for all ways to allow a consumer to interact with a marketer. So right now, those iBeacon geofencing technology are all outbound technologies to track people's movements. You push the message, you only have one or two shots when somebody's in a venue to push them a message. But there's 1000 points of interaction. When you have a shopper or somebody in the museum when the consumer is standing there in front of something and they have a question. They want to know more about our product. They want to know if there's a deal there. They want more information. They want to talk to somebody and you can use a touch point i Physical Web beacon, a QR code and NFC tag as a touch point directly to the marketer or the organization in any of those instances, to allow the person to connect a animal information directly to a chat page. Directly to cry Like information or in the world of a museum or aquarium to find out more information about the display.
Steve Statler 40:08
So QR codes on the enemy, you're embracing them, you're embracing NFC tags, which basically is kind of a sticker, which has a rule radio in it that allows you to tap and that sends a URL like seven things practices URL that can trigger a page and experience on its own.
Richard Graves 40:29
Yeah, run in a refugee, I'm sorry, there. But yeah, I probably hadn't explained how the how the QR experience is fundamental. That's what I was asking you. Today, if you take a QR code there, and you scan it with one of the 100 QR scanners that are out there, most QR codes have shortened URLs, you see a shortened URL, sort of vibrates and says, here's the short Euro, do you want to go there? Well, the consumer doesn't really know where that's gonna go. So they select it normally takes four or five seconds to click through and load all the content from the website. And then 70% of the time you decide I don't really want that content. So if you take that, that unknown, that fear of what am I going to get when people don't use that product. Also, knowing that you have shared your location or IP address with it underlined with like, you've given them an opportunity to put a cookie on your phone. And it's potentially malicious content out there, all those unknowns, create a level of uncertainty about QR codes that makes it an uncomfortable technology. When you move it onto a physical web platform, and it becomes browsable. You know, I can take for QR codes. And in the time that it takes to see that shortened URL, I can move my phone across all four and see very rich data about what's under. Under that, you know, what the destination is, you know, an example would be, you know, I could take a playing card, put QR codes on the back of the card, and roll my phone across them and see an image of the card, the ball for those cards flipped over. Okay? That's an example of browsing. So browsing is a fast transaction, because we're not downloading websites. We're downloading metadata, we're downloading very small packages. Okay, so the transaction is fast. It just calls a server sits between us and the website, it's private, I'm not exposing my IP address to these destination websites, through the browsing process, in through our management platform, you know, when done through an app, we can protect people from going to malicious websites, you know, let's say a retailer says, you know, I want to have QR browsing within my store. You know, within that app, we say, only hour in network approved content, you know, we can do, we can keep people from more than any other content.
Steve Statler 43:08
Browser in this case is the retailer's app.
Richard Graves 43:12
Retailers app. We, through our SDK through one SDK, you get all flavors of URL based touchpoints. So we have a physical web button. If you want to scan wirelessly to content that's in, you know, within 100 meters up, you know, physical web data, you know, we have a QR button, if you want to scan visual touchpoints like QR codes. And NFC is tactile, you can tap it NFC tag to interact with it.
Steve Statler 43:48
If you have enough experience to get a sense of which of those channels, people are using more NFC QR code or physical wet when you've offered all three?,
Richard Graves 44:01
We've just started pitching only under pilots. You know, this in the in the last couple of weeks, and it's been extraordinary. Almost everybody has said, this is perfect. And it's not because that they're going to deploy beacons over QR codes. It's because that they say, the combination of both these gives me the right kind of consumer experiences in my venue.
Steve Statler 44:35
Give me one more example of how you'd use a little bit.
Richard Graves 44:38
So say you're in a museum with physical web beacons, you know, I can have a beacon in a room and let's say there are 30 pieces of art or around the walls of this room. I can't go put a beacon on each of 30 pieces of art. Yes, I can triangulate using iBeacons but The fact that I'm standing in front of a piece of art doesn't necessarily mean that I want much information about it, you know, the physical app is inbound, it lets the customer tell you what they want. So I can have content that is relevant to the room at large on beacons, but I can put a QR code on every individual page and have people walk by. And I can have another set maybe on a rail that sits behind, you know, farther back, so people back there can also interact with Yeah, with with direct payments. And you can have multiple audiences within the app. So when you take conditional content, you know, I can say I'm a kid in the app, and I can see, you know, Kid appropriate content from all those QR codes or beacons, you know, while a patron may see, you know, an entirely different set of content, or you could even set it up where it's question and answer, the other kid sees a question and the parent sees an answer. Or vice versa, you can really have, you know, interactive kind of experiences. So the precision offered by QR code, yes, they're both URL technologies. But they're completely different in the type of experiences that they that they offer in the combination of visual, wireless and tactile in the same SDK, gares. And app. The flexibility gives the marketer the flexibility with to interact with customers, or consumers the way that best fit the application. So you know, I see a mixture of all these technologies in many different deployments.
Steve Statler 46:44
Love it. Yeah, I think it's fruitless arguing whether a hammer versus chisel versus a saw is better, it's a matter of when you use the right tool, and very often you need to use all of them together. So all right, Richard, is there anything else that anything else that we need to cover? Before we sign off? We've covered a lot.
Richard Graves 47:05
You know, the one thing that Iwould cover is, we're close to the iBeacon. space, we have begun deployments, and some people see these two technologies as competitive. They're not at all. You know, it's like a car you need for it. And you need reverse. You know, iBeacon is a outbound technology, primarily designed to push messages at opportune times. Or the Physical Web is an inbound technology designed to let people interact when they want to contact the marketer, you know, having these both in the same app. Just it's two different use cases. So I don't see the two as competitive at all. And I see them as entirely complimentary. So if somebody has an iBeacon, deployment doesn't mean at all, if they can have a physical performer.
Steve Statler 47:53
That's brilliant. For sure. Thanks very much. It's been a fascinating conversation. And thanks very much for everyone. If you've been listening, please continue and do subscribe to us on our website, HH gb.us. And on YouTube, or Facebook, if you have been thanks for listening, thanks for staying. Perfect. Memory. So we're in Nashville. And you are saying that part of the reason you live here is because of the music. And obviously we have this tradition of asking people on the podcast, what are the three tracks they would take to Mars? What would you take?
Richard Graves 48:43
That's a tough question, but I'll give it a shot right quick. You know, I would take Adele rolling in the beat, just because I like the power of our voice and the fibers that are derived from listening to it. Knowing that Mars is someplace that you got a world of time with nothing to do but probably take Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon or the constant music is secondary to just getting lost in your own thoughts. Yeah. And probably take the Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil. Probably football for my college more than any other time.
Steve Statler 49:30
It's just an amazing song. It's one of my favorites. And it's one of my favorites. Have you seen it?
Richard Graves 49:34
Steve Statler 49:42
Just, just voice is incredible. She's one of the singers that really engages the crowd.
Richard Graves 49:48
Just has a nice dialogue. Yeah, with the audience while she's there. So it was a fabulous show. Tonight. Yeah. Fabulous.
Steve Statler 50:04
Cool. And before we kind of get into the interview as a whole, I'd be interested to hear just a little bit about how you got into running beacon. And so you've, you're kind of a serial entrepreneur.
Richard Graves 50:17
Yeah. I've been through many startups. You know, I took a decade off and was energized to start something out. And I took time off when I had my son, I really wanted to spend time with my son. And then I realized that he's only going to understand how hard it is to start a company and how much focus one has to have, if they see it through osmosis, really learning through osmosis. You know, part of the motivation was just to teach my son, the process and how much hard work it takes. And part of it was just that I was motivated to, to start something. Yeah. And how old is your son? Right now? He's 15. All right, freshman in high school.
Steve Statler 51:06
My son is 17. And it's had I didn't do it deliberately, but I've as well as doing speaking thing. I started up my own company, give the change. And so it's had that effect that you described, the Osmosis is working, right. It's like, I can't get into like focus on doing a job working for the man who wants to start his own company and all that.