One of the hottest technology trends of this year is definitely the iBeacon and it’s on full display here at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.
iBeacon, Apple’s name for their innovative Bluetooth LE technology, allows two-way communication between devices. Fittingly, the official mobile app of SXSW works with this fast-emerging technology. Although it’s been used in retail environments on many occasions, as well as sporting stadiums, this is the first time that the new technology has been used at an event like SXSW.
For attendees using iOS, downloading the official SXSW app allows them to take advantage of iBeacon when picking up their badges and for select sessions. When in the vicinity of the SXSW registration area, for example, anyone who has the app on their smartphone will get a notification that has their Registration QuickCode.
Around the Austin Convention Center, an additional 40 iBeacons have been set up by Jeff Sinclair and his team. Jeff is the co-founder of Eventbase, the company that created the SXSW app.
For Sinclair, it’s important that the notification feature of this new technology is not abused. “We don’t want to spam users or overwhelm them with messages,” he said. It’s because of this that the implementation of the iBeacon at the convention will be at its lowest setting, and users will be given nothing more than a simple “thank you” notice for attending any session, with no other prompts.
Singulair sees a tremendous potential for this type of technology, however, especially at events when there is either low or no Internet connectivity, as the iBeacon will allow people to communicate one-to-one using the app without the need for an Internet connection. Another reason it should be excellent for event planners is that it can recognize specific locations and geo-fenced areas.
“GPS doesn’t work well indoors,” Sinclair said. “That makes it hard to target specific users in a specific location.” With iBeacons, users can have access to different contextual information or get data about what is around them with much higher degrees of accuracy.
Sinclair said that he and his team at Eventbase hope to learn a lot from the implementation at SXSW this year in order to determine how they can modify and expand the use of the iBeacon at future events. They already have plans to be at the Tribeca film Festival this April as well as Cannes Lions in June as they are the official app of both festivals.
For those not of the iOS persuasion, have no fear. An Android version is coming soon.