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Iconeme Launches Bluetooth Beacon Solution for Mannequins

The VMBeacon system includes beacons and a smartphone app that enables shoppers to learn more about a garment on display in a store or window, and to purchase that product online—even if the store is closed.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 21, 2014

Creating a new way to engage shoppers at specific in-store locations where they often pause, U.K.-based startup Iconeme has released a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon system that enables store mannequins to transmit data to customers. The VMBeacon solution consists of a beaconing device installed inside a mannequin that transmits a signal to the Bluetooth reader built into a consumer's phone. In that way, individuals who pass in front of mannequins, either in a store or at a store window, can receive information about the garments that mannequin is wearing, including sizes, colors, prices, coupons and online buying options.

Iconeme was launched by retail entrepreneurs Jonathan Berlin and Adrian Coe, who also own Universal Display, a provider of mannequins and related products and services. A store can install Iconeme's beacons in its existing mannequins, or purchase Universal Display mannequins with the beacons already built in.

Iconeme's smartphone app can be used to identify a Universal Display mannequin via a built-in Bluetooth beacon, and to provide information about the garments on display.
"We wanted to bridge the gap between bricks and mortar and the virtual world," says Berlin, who is also Universal Display's managing director. Shoppers often use their smartphones, he notes, to browse through products while at a store, looking at options, for example, that could lead them to purchases from other businesses. The VMBeacon solution allows those shoppers to browse information about a product in front of them.

Users first download the Iconeme application, which is currently available at the Apple iTunes website, Berlin says, and is expected to be made available for Android phones in the near future. When an individual walks within range of a beacon, either on the street or within a store, the phone (as long as it is powered on) will receive a notification when in range of a VMBeacon. Alerts can also be issued if coupons related to the products within range of that shopper's phone are available. If the shopper opens the app, the phone can then begin receiving transmissions from the beacons about the products displayed on those mannequins, at a distance of up to 100 meters (328 feet).

Because the beacons can transmit at any time of day, shoppers can interact with the system and thereby collect information about an item they see being worn by a mannequin in a shop window, for example, even if the store is closed. They can then be prompted to make a purchase online, and they can share that information with friends or family members via e-mail or social media. In addition, the data can be saved so that a consumer can view a particular product's details at a later date, and make a purchase if he or she is still interested.

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