iBeacon opens up a new whole dimension by creating a beacon around regions so your app can be alerted when users enter them. Beacons are a small wireless sensors placed inside any physical space that transmit data to your iPhone using Bluetooth Low Energy (also known as Bluetooth 4.0 and Bluetooth Smart).
In the age of context, iBeacon can provide the information you needed when it is needed. Just like NFC, iBeacons even allow you to pay the bill using your smart phone. The best part? iBeacon can run for up to two years on a single coin battery and it comes with accelerometer, flash memory, a powerful ARM processor and Bluetooth connectivity. Also, you can add more sensors to iBeacon to provide better context.
NFC range is up to 20cm (7.87 inches), but the actual optimal range is less than 4cm (1.57 inches). Also, mobile devices need to contain a NFC chip that can handle any NFC communications. On the other hand, iBeacons are a little expensive compared to NFC chips, but iBeacons range is up to 50 meters. Not all phones have NFC chips, but almost all have Bluetooth capability.
So many awesome implications from this technology. Gottipati uses the example of walking through a store and getting real time updates with coupons for products around you, or directions through the store for a specific product. I've thought of some other potentially awesome possibilities as well.
I do a lot of my work at various coffee shops around the University campus. With over 12,000 students attending the relatively small campus (it would take me less than 15 minutes to walk from one edge of campus to the other, so not extremely small, but not very big either. And most restaurants/coffee shops are packed in two small regions.), each time I enter a coffee shop I have to make a decision: either find an open table and leave my stuff, unattended, to save it while I purchase my coffee, or take my stuff into the line and hope others in the crowd don't fill up all the seats in the mean time. (They usually do.) It would be amazing to be able to just walk in and sit immediately and order and pay with my phone without even going to the register. That cuts down on wasted time standing in exorbitantly long lines so I can get to work immediately and know that my order is already in the queue. I also would never need to leave my devices unattended.
Another, similar example: if restaurants supported iBeacon, no longer would you have to wait, after finishing your food, for the waiter or waitress to pick up your check and take it back to the register, ring you up and bring your card back. On busy days this can waste much of your time. With iBeacon, you could just pay with your iPhone when you order and be free to leave whenever you're ready. I've worked in a restaurant, and trust me, this would not only save customers time, but would also make the lives of the waiters, waitresses and bussers easier, as they would have one less step to take care of and one less thing to wait for on hectic nights. Best of all, you could do it all right from your seat, since iBeacon would have coverage of the entire restaurant.
It seems natural for iBeacon to integrate with Siri and passbook, allowing users to dictate quick purchases, like you can already do with Fandango tickets. Dictated or prepared purchases could be added as passbook passes, then when you enter the facility with the iBeacon coverage, your pass pops up in the lock screen, you swipe it and touch your fingerprint scanner, and boom! The transaction is completed. The implications of this technology are incredible, and seemingly endless. With Apple's full control over software and hardware, integrating the lightning fast and effortless fingerprint authentication with Siri, passbook and third party apps, the potential for iBeacon is astounding. If Apple and other, third party companies really take advantage of these technologies, we could finally have a solution for making purchases that is far easier and far quicker than standing in a line and paying with a card from your wallet.