With Apple’s recent move toward iBeacon, the retail world lit up. In Apple’s world, we’d find our way through stores, being alerted to deals or special offers along the way. Our devices would automatically notify us, using Bluetooth Low Energy, and we’d be able to shop in a much more convenient way. Qualcomm has an answer in their Gimbal devices, and they’re now available.

Rather than be forced into the Apple ecosystem, Gimbal brings the iBeacon concept to the open market. By placing the devices throughout the store, retailers can have them alert customers who are in a particular section or area of the store — down to a very specific location — to offers, sales, deals, etc. In the world of contextual devices and information, Gimbal is one that works for us, and only asks us for our location.

With iBeacon, Apple essentially turns any iOS device into a signal sender, which can get expensive. Unless you want each employee fitted with an iPad or iPhone (a trend we see more and more of daily), the cost alone is a bit prohibitive. Gimbal, however, is as low as $5 per device, bringing the contextual shopping concept to more retailers, and more consumers.

Unfortunately, Gimbal is only compatible for iOS right now, but Android support is coming. We like the idea of storefronts controlling sales and such via a simple, clean interface that is less intrusive than an employee walking around bothering people. With over half the smartphone market share and growing, we don’t think it will be long before we see Gimbal working on Android devices, either.