Tapping into iBeacon to Transform your Events

March 6, 2014 - Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also known as Bluetooth Smart and called iBeacon™ by Apple,  is an exciting new proximity detection technology for mobile devices that has received widespread support and adoption. The system allows devices to detect their proximity to one another and trigger location-specific actions and content, a potential boon for event organizers. As creator of the official SXSW® GO, Eventbase is pioneering the use of BLE at the world’s largest interactive event. In an industry-first, Eventbase is placing beacons within key locations at SXSW and users of iPhone app will be able to use it to speed up their badge pick-up process and enhance their event experience.

So what can brands take away from the innovative use of beacons at SXSW, and how can they deploy this game-changing technology to transform their own events? 

Take Audience Participation to a New Level
Beacons will also be placed within select session venues at SXSW. When attendees enter the venue and their smartphone will detect the beacon for that session and they will receive a prompt to “Join the Conversation” within the app.  Utilizing Eventbase’s SessionLive feature, app users can see a list of other attendees in the session, read their profiles and send messages within the app or via blinded email.  They will also be able to take part in live audience polls and post to a discussion forum for that session. Beacons will make it simple for badge holders to use their smartphone or tablet to engage in the sessions they attend, which will maximize participation. 

Craft the Experience through Content
Having the ability to prompt special content or offers based on a user’s proximity to a beacon carries myriad possibilities for event organizers. This year, SXSW is focussing on using beacons to deliver timely information and access to services, while keeping the number of beacon alerts to a minimum. 

Eventbase has also integrated with Urban Airship, which will be able to deliver iBeacon™ triggered push notifications to app users containing highly relevant messages about the sessions they attend and the places they visit during SXSW.  Directing attendees to specific sessions or booths, promoting tailored location-specific offers and delivering relevant messages by location - it’s a new level of personalization that makes getting the most out of an event a zero-effort experience. 

Attendee-to-Attendee Networking
The act of swapping business cards may soon be a thing of the past. In addition to detecting beacon devices, every iPhone and iPad running iOS7 can already be used as a beacon itself.  This makes it possible for app users to detect other app users that are nearby, and let them connect and exchange contact information effortlessly. Currently Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices are only able to listen for beacons, so a workaround will be required for these users until support for broadcasting a beacon signal is supported. 

Facilitating On-Site Transactions
Beacons also promise to be a path to generating revenue through mobile transactions. Near Field Communications (NFC) is one method for facilitating payments, however the limited range of this technology and the fact it has not been adopted by Apple makes it less than optimal. Beacon technology works in a similar manner but over a much larger range (over 100 feet) while supporting a variety of actions across pre-defined zones, so purchases can be limited to users that are very closeby. 

Bridge the Gap between Virtual and Real-World
Location-based interactions with offline installations such as video walls will be made possible with beacons. And in a setting where memorable offline experiences is often the objective, being able to create these out of mobile interactions will allow event organizers to achieve greater integration of their marketing channels. 

These are just some of the applications of this technology in an event environment. As use cases become more commonplace, other ideas for incorporating beacons are bound to transform the event industry as a whole.

Read Mashable's article: iBeacon Comes to SXSW