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Qualcomm Debuts Gimbal Beacons to Track Shoppers [UPDATE]

Editor's Note: This post has been updated with the following statement from Qualcomm since its original publish date:

"Qualcomm are supporters of Apple and the iOS ecosystem. As a member of the Developer Program, we're excited about what iBeacon has to offer for Gimbal and look forward to the solutions possible." 

Apple began deploying its iBeacon technology in retail stores last week, but the iPhone maker isn’t the only company attempting to make the brick-and-mortar shopping experience more interactive. Qualcomm has just announced that its new Gimbal platform, which utilizes Bluetooth Smart to deliver proximity-based notifications to in-store shoppers, is commercially available starting today. 

Qualcomm’s Gimbal platform is contextually aware, which means it will only send shoppers relevant information based on where they are in the store. Qualcomm says Gimbal takes various types of information into account, including physical location, activity, time and personal interests in order to filter out “the irrelevant.” The beacons are accurate down to one foot and work both indoors and outdoors.

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Gimbal supports iOS and Android, but will only be available for iOS upon launch according to Qualcomm. The device itself comes in two flavors-- the Series 20 and Series 10 beacons. The larger Series 20 measures 4 x 3.7 x 0.9 inches, while the smaller version is 1.5 x 1.1 x 0.2 inches.

The beacons communicate using Bluetooth Smart, giving the Series 10 an estimated battery life of up to a year depending on use cases, while the Series 20 is said to last between one and three years. Qualcomm also says that the Series 10 beacons can cost as little as $5 per unit and the Series 20 could be priced at $10 each, depending on volume.

The announcement marks just one of several smart shopping efforts to emerge in recent months. In addition to Apple’s iBeacon deployment, Macy’s recently announced a partnership with the Shopkick app that uses location services to track your iPhone in-store. For now, shoppers can try the technology out in the retailer's New York City and San Francisco stores.