Roximity is working to differentiate itself from other beacon manufacturers by increasing the lifespan and security of its devices.
The new version, the Model X, has a battery life of five years, which is more than five times longer than the three to 12 months of its older model. "This is huge for real deployments where [merchants are] installing tens of thousands of beacons and don't want to have a support team out there every year changing batteries," said Danny Newman, founder and CEO of Roximity.
The company spent several years researching and testing batteries, "figuring out the optimal fit between size and longevity," Newman said. The company decided on using a specific battery type that is frequently used by military and medical device makers.
"A lot of hardware developers in the beacon space have gone in separate directions, likely based on their user feedback," Newman said. Some are focusing on size and making the devices as tiny as possible, while others have tried really bringing prices down. But for our type of commercial partners, the biggest retailers where they really need and want longevity, that's what we've focused on.
Newman said the company should announce some big client partnerships the second week of September.
Roximity's new model works seamlessly with the older versions. Many merchants aren't fully replacing the older version with the Model X, but instead merely extending their coverage with the new model.
The company also upgraded security within the Model X, allowing merchants to choose who has permission to use their beacons.
"This is important for things like marketing and critical to any kind of payment initiation," said Newman.
For instance, a restaurant would want to limit who can access its beacons, so competitors couldn't piggyback on the network and send offers to customers at that location. A merchant, such as a grocery store, might also want to give permission to a third-party coupon app to utilize the beacons in their store.
These access controls also help combat payments fraud, since some beacons allow people to duplicate or clone consumer information and trigger a purchase from a location outside the store, said Newman.
Shopkick has been targeted by this kind of attack. Fraudsters can mimic the process of checking in at the store multiple times and receive rewards or points for that activity.
Companies that offer coupons or points for visiting physical locations have been the first place people have hijacked [they] basically sit in their living room and keep receiving points...by turning their iPod Touch into a beacon, said Newman.
This vulnerability is primarily due to Apple making its iBeacon spec open, he said. It's Apple's desire to be able to use this open system to create an overall network from the deployment of their software that they can use as well, said Newman. But because beacon hardware and management software comes at a cost, merchants want to protect that infrastructure and keep their competitive edge, he said.
Apple did not respond to inquiries by deadline.
Roximity has applied for a patent for its beacon security, which utilizes multiple protections to shield the signal, Newman said.