Kontakt.io becomes one of the world’s leading smart hardware providersTechnologies & Industry
Originally Published in June 2017
Kontakt.io is the world’s number-one beacon provider for small, medium-sized and large businesses. Over 17,000 customers in more than 120 countries have benefited from Beacon Infrastructure, which includes hardware, software, services and expertise. Kontakt.io was founded with the goal of helping the visually impaired navigate public spaces. Today, headquartered in Kraków with offices in Berlin, Guadalajara and New York, it helps businesses enter the world of the “Internet of Things” (IoT).
In 2013, Szymon Niemczura, Rafał Janicki, Tomasz Kołek and Tomasz Koźmiński developed a proximity solution that would help the visually impaired enjoy museum tours. After discovering the potential of a Bluetooth proximity device, they decided to start their own company. CEO Niemczura graduated from National Louis University with a degree in business and finance management. Under his leadership and with his enthusiasm for IoT, Kontakt.io has become one of the world’s leading smart hardware providers.
A year after its launch, Kontakt.io raised $2 million in an investment round backed by Sunstone Capital—a top European venture capital firm. With these funds, the company entered the emerging “beacosystem” by shipping thousands of customized beacons worldwide with the shortest lead times in the industry. In 2016, Kontakt.io received $5 million in a Series B round led by Credo Ventures, which enabled the newly rebranded company to enrich and diversify its hardware and software product lineup, as well as expand teams worldwide. Today, there are more than 90 employees on the Kontakt.io team.
Kontakt.io has developed several different types of beacon hardware, as well as robust beacon software to help its clients build, deploy and scale up their proximity solutions. When Google launched the Eddystone Bluetooth technology in 2015, Kontakt.io was one of the few companies that was involved in the project and developed the first beacons with Eddystone support. One year later, Kontakt.io released four new products that represent a new generation in how the industry uses beacons. Among recently introduced hardware is the thinnest complete Bluetooth Smart device in the world (Card Beacon), the most advanced beacon hardware (Beacon Pro and Gateway), which combined with Location Engine (a new software tool) not only provides the ability to monitor the movement and status of beacons in real time but also to cause a few actions based on location, all— without a smartphone.
With over 500,000 beacons shipped, Kontakt.io has the most beacon use cases implemented in the world.
As the most prominent IoT technology, proximity can make any item smart and context-aware—creating a personalized experience and gathering data about the real world. A beacon is a small Bluetooth radio transmitter which acts like a lighthouse by transmitting signals that other devices can detect. Once a nearby smart device detects the signal via Bluetooth Smart™, the signal tells the smart device its location by giving its ID number, which is then sent to the cloud server. To respond, the server first checks what action is assigned to that ID number. With this technology, a smart device, such as a smartphone, can perform various actions, including updating a map with a user’s location, opening locks, even changing the music as someone walks around the house.
Companies worldwide take advantage of beacons to engage with customers in new ways to increase sales. By using proximity, the multinational retailer Carrefour gained 600 percent more app users. When shoppers entered the store, they were notified of coupons and suggested products. A Volkswagen dealer in Moscow installed beacons in its showrooms so that when customers approach a model, they receive information through a beacon-enabled app about its price, specifications and available colors. In the U.S., the Philadelphia Museum of Art launched an “A is for Art Museum” app that helps visitors navigate the exhibits. Beacons triggered additional information and real-world games.