New York Tech Journal
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Beacons & Geolocation

Posted on November 7th, 2014

11/7/2014 @HelenMills space, 137 W 26th St, NY

Event sponsored by www.gimbal.com #beaconday14

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Gimbal is an SDK and analytics platform for location-based mobile apps. Sessions were divided into technical walkthroughs for creating iOS apps and talks by vendors of apps using Gimbal’s services or providing infrastructure for targeting ads base on mobile location.

The two technical sessions showed how to use Xcode to construct apps with the Gimbal SDK. Geolocation apps are based on the following

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  1. Location hardware which can be GPS (or other global systems) combined with finer grain services such as BTLE (blue tooth low energy) transponders.
    1. S-20 transponder which is palm size, takes regular batteries and transmits up to two years without changing batteries. Transmits Gimbal format and also beacon format
    2. S-10 (see picture) which is thumb size and works only for a few months on its battery. Transmits Gimbal format, but can be reprogrammed to transmit in beacon format.
  2. BTLE hardware to receive the signal. As of now only available on iPhone, but will be coming to Android phones with BTLE in early 2015
  3. Software: iOS Gimbal version 1 is released, but will be replaced by version 2 which is in beta. The v2 interface requires fewer software calls to the SDK. There is an Android SDK, but it is being revamped for OS 5.x which will be released in 2015. My understanding is that the current Gimbal Android SDK is primarily for use with geofence and does not work for geolocation. The software needs to smooth the inputs, create triggers for arrivals/departures, smooth the inputs for GPS and beacon, etc. The software maintains a list of beacon locations.
  4. Database software to create ad content, match to location information and determine the actions when users arrive or depart from locations.
  5. Analysis software to refine your use of the geolocation data.

Gary Damm and Sidd Panigrahi also described geofencing which is triggered by someone being within a boundary. They contrasted it with geolocation which emphasizes near location to a point in space.

Other presenters emphasized applications of geolocation.

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Karen Pattani-Hanson & Megan Barry@UrbanAirship presented a case study at the US tennis Open. There 20 beacons covered the tennis center and were able to provide notifications that.

  1. Welcome first time visitor get welcome
  2. Featured activities – live streaming, US open radio, live prediction challenge
  3. Sponsorship monetization – e.g. esurance used iBeacon to identify people coming to the booth
  4. Sell last minute tickets – segment audience according to location and if on grounds, 32% click through rate

Dan Maxwell @VerveMobile talked about how Verve looks outside the store to drive traffic into the store – locate customers near the store, push inducement to go to the store, customize offers depending on location within the store. Their technology verifies that the customer entered the store and went to the part of the store. Also pops up a coupon once at that location in the store. Match to redemptions of the coupon

Antonio Tomarchio @Beintoo talked about building networks of beacons across different venues and locations and building a network of advertisers. The emphasized the importance of providing a trustworthy opt-in or opt-out mechanism

Anthony Dorment @Phigital talked about a tool that creates cards that to be displayed when triggered by a location arrival. Cards can include messages, media, video, user interaction, Google maps, etc. The goal is to make it easy to link content with the service to initiate it at a location.

Lior Nir @ShopAdvisor talked about a service across multiple vendors to alert customers to offers when they are near certain locations.

Brain Spracklen @SparkCompass talked about two case studies where geolocation data spurred user participation:

Case study #1- Ole Miss tries to encourage attendance at sports other than football. In the past needed to check in to get points. Replace by beacons. Encourage attendance once the program is announced. Also distributed to local merchants. In the future integrate with mobile payment and wearables to cut concession lines – place an order & you are sensed as you go to the concession and you are asked for your payment method.

Case study #2 – San Diego convention center – Comicon

Spark Compass will be coming out with a spark app in the next few weeks to program your own beacons and you own ads.

Toby @ControlGroup talked about some out-of the box uses for geolocation culminating in a demonstration of a companion robot – a mobile chair that can follow you (you’re your smart phone) using location sensors on the left and right arms.

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