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MLB stadiums to deploy Apple's iBeacons for fan convenience, interactivity

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
In a bid to make the ballpark experience more engaging for fans, Major League Baseball plans to roll out Apple's new iBeacons technology to deliver targeted information and offers based on a fan's location within the park, according to a new report.

MLB At the Ballpark app


When Major League Baseball's 2014 season gets underway next May, fans with iOS devices will find their day at the ballpark more convenient and interactive as MLB plans to roll out updates to its At the Ballpark app that take advantage of micro-location technology enabled by Apple's iBeacons. MLB has been working with Apple on the concept since February, months before iBeacons were revealed to the public at June's Worldwide Developers Conference, according to a report from Mashable.

MLB demonstrated the new technology on Thursday at the New York Mets' Citi Field, showing off several potential applications. Fans who purchase their tickets from MLB could have the tickets' barcode automatically displayed on their device as they approach the gate, for example, alongside a map of their seat location. Those who visit a concession stand might be given a virtual "point card," while fans shopping for merchandise can be served coupons upon entering the team store.

Since the features can be customized for each team and each ballpark, they can also be used to turn the stadium into a sort of "living museum" ? part of Thursday's demonstration had the app play a video about the history of the Mets' iconic home run apple when standing near the statue.

"Essentially, we want to create micro-locations within the stadiums where you can get different experiences," said Marc Abramson, an MLB developer who works on MLB's iOS apps, adding that the league "couldn't be more excited about the potential" of iBeacons. MLB considered using GPS for the new features, but issues with spatial accuracy and reception made that approach less than ideal.

iBeacons are a new micro-location technology in iOS 7 that uses the power-sipping Bluetooth low energy standard to help iOS devices determine their location with a high degree of accuracy without GPS or cell tower triangulation. Apps can take advantage of this granular location data in a variety of ways, like providing indoor mapping and navigation or customizing the app's behavior based on a user's proximity to a specific object.
post #2 of 33
This just sounds like a way to push targeted advertisements to your phone while you're trying to watch a game.
post #3 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by techguy911 View Post

This just sounds like a way to push targeted advertisements to your phone while you're trying to watch a game.

 

Perhaps aid in finding your seats, the nearest bathroom or concession stand, guide you to other features of the ball park (historical sites or displays).

post #4 of 33
This is going to unleash an enormous new wave of apps. The possibilities here are endless.
post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUnfetteredMind View Post

Perhaps aid in finding your seats, the nearest bathroom or concession stand, guide you to other features of the ball park (historical sites or displays).

Absolutely correct, there's user value too. Just as with many (most?) other retailers and venues, MLB will offer carrots to encourage iPhone/Android smartphone owners to leave BluetoothLE enabled, which I think is the default setting in iOS7 isn't it?
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post #6 of 33
That's cool! I can now imagine museums, art galleries, landmarks allowing people to use their own iPhone for "guided tours" instead of giving them those disgusting headsets and audio players. They could rent out an iPod touch to those who aren't fortunate enough to be carrying an iDevice at the time.

Could they also update scores from other games via iBeacon on their app? It would be kind of cool to have all the players stats pop up / be available as they walk up to the plate, or take the mound.
post #7 of 33

NFC eat your heart out

post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by techguy911 View Post

This just sounds like a way to push targeted advertisements to your phone while you're trying to watch a game.

 

I think only the Google version does that. 

post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

NFC eat your heart out

Absolutely. NFC can't track you and your movements like this and so wouldn't be as nearly as valuable to businesses and data monetizers. I expect beacons to be rolled out widely and quickly. I suspect Google will embrace this too.
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post #10 of 33
For this to work you're going to need data. My data connection is always very poor in any packed baseball stadium. I guess this won't be a problem for the Mets, Marlins, White Sox etc, but just try this in Detroit, Boston or Yankee Stadium...
post #11 of 33
Please, PLEASE put this in my grocery store so it doesn't take me an hour to find the green beans!
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by phasornc View Post

For this to work you're going to need data. My data connection is always very poor in any packed baseball stadium. I guess this won't be a problem for the Mets, Marlins, White Sox etc, but just try this in Detroit, Boston or Yankee Stadium...

Nope, or at least not necessarily a cell connection at least. From what I gather the most reliable and valuable implementations will combine BluLE and Wifi for use with iBeacons. That would help explain why Apple recently purchased WiFi Slam.
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post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by JackNC View Post

Please, PLEASE put this in my grocery store so it doesn't take me an hour to find the green beans!

Find them once, then remember.
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by MessagePad2100 View Post
 

 

I think only the Google version does that. 

 

Bingo!  The difference between Apple and Google in a nutshell.

post #15 of 33
Does anyone know how this work, is it part of an app, so you have to have that app running to receive the info, or will it just pop up as part of iOS as a notification?
post #16 of 33

Would be great to see this technology used in theme parks, especially Walt Disney World. So many possibilities for this tech in that application.

post #17 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevinneal View Post

Does anyone know how this work, is it part of an app, so you have to have that app running to receive the info, or will it just pop up as part of iOS as a notification?

iBeacons will work without an app. For maximum benefits both for MLB and the user they'll be offering an app. I would think many larger retailers and venues will also offer apps, which as one benefit will spell out the permissions and other details more clearly for the users.
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post #18 of 33
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Originally Posted by NotScott View Post


Find them once, then remember.

they move stuff around all the time.

 

iBeacon + Fingerprint = Apple will change the world, AGAIN.

post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by sog35 View Post
 

they move stuff around all the time.

 

iBeacon + Fingerprint = Apple will change the world, AGAIN.

 

If it works only with iphones, I doubt it will have the impact we are hoping. Few companies in their right mind will adopt a standard that automatically shunts out more than 1/2 their consumer base. 

 

Much as I want this to take off so Android users can finally shut up about the iphones not supportining NFC, I see this maybe gaining some traction in the US, but not anywhere else. 

post #20 of 33
Originally Posted by abazigal View Post

If it works only with iphones, I doubt it will have the impact we are hoping. Few companies in their right mind will adopt a standard that automatically shunts out more than 1/2 their consumer base.

 

It works via Bluetooth. So obviously it won’t work with only iPhones; iPod touch and iPad will be able to do this, too.

Originally Posted by helia

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post #21 of 33
Am I missing something or is there an iBeacon hardware device involved, or just Apple AE routers?
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post

Am I missing something or is there an iBeacon hardware device involved, or just Apple AE routers?

Inexpensive (as little at $50) beacons. It takes only a very few to cover a pretty large area. For now I don't know that Apple is directly benefiting even on the hardware or data side, but that will be made clearer once the Apple Tech Talks get underway.
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post #23 of 33

Estimote (http://estimote.com) has some Beacons they're pre-selling.  Their website claims that the BLE tech works with Apple, Google and Nokia.  It would probably depended on what the apps for each platform are capable of handling as far as graphics and content, but it sounds like it will work to some extent with every platform.

post #24 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldndoodle View Post

That's cool! I can now imagine museums, art galleries, landmarks allowing people to use their own iPhone for "guided tours" instead of giving them those disgusting headsets and audio players. They could rent out an iPod touch to those who aren't fortunate enough to be carrying an iDevice at the time.

Could they also update scores from other games via iBeacon on their app? It would be kind of cool to have all the players stats pop up / be available as they walk up to the plate, or take the mound.

 

The American Museum of Natural History in NYC has somehting like this, there's an app for it!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/explorer-american-museum-natural/id381227123?mt=8

post #25 of 33
This sounds so cool! As long as the user has the ability to turn this feature off/on as they choose, this will be a welcome addition for apps going forward.
post #26 of 33
It looks like if you turn off location services (ie Maps, Siri, Passbook etc) you can disable iBeacons, tho that's not entirely certain yet. Do you see iBeacons listed in Location Services on your iPhone? There's a doc here and it doesn't really say:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5594?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

If there's a checkbox for iBeacon then that should offer a way to disable it so that your iDevice no longer broadcasts identity information. So do you see one?
Edited by Gatorguy - 9/27/13 at 11:24am
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post #27 of 33

Cool.  This series of posts kind of lays out issues I see and proposes partial answers to most... ...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Dennis View Post
 

Would be great to see this technology used in theme parks, especially Walt Disney World. So many possibilities for this tech in that application.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JackNC View Post

Please, PLEASE put this in my grocery store so it doesn't take me an hour to find the green beans!

Especially since many of us need to shop in multiple places to get what we need.  And many specialty items are harder to find than green beans (they're in Produce everywhere after all).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Absolutely. NFC can't track you and your movements like this and so wouldn't be as nearly as valuable to businesses and data monetizers. I expect beacons to be rolled out widely and quickly. I suspect Google will embrace this too.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by abazigal View Post
 

If it works only with iphones, I doubt it will have the impact we are hoping. Few companies in their right mind will adopt a standard that automatically shunts out more than 1/2 their consumer base. 

 

Much as I want this to take off so Android users can finally shut up about the iphones not supportining NFC, I see this maybe gaining some traction in the US, but not anywhere else. 

The above and below are where things start to get unclear a bit....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldndoodle View Post
 

Estimote (http://estimote.com) has some Beacons they're pre-selling.  Their website claims that the BLE tech works with Apple, Google and Nokia.  It would probably depended on what the apps for each platform are capable of handling as far as graphics and content, but it sounds like it will work to some extent with every platform.

If iBeacons is the emerging solution to providing the above and many other potential services (which it will only be if they work with great majority of devices), the market for these guys (which will eventually cost very little) will be in the billions and billions of devices. 

So what will Apple's role be (and what rights do they have at this point)?  Making them? (They've never done a huge volume, lower-priced, likely lower margin operation - but even at a buck net per device, that's a lot of money.)  Licensing bits of the patents and tech?  Providing an open standard they influence to their benefit by staying on the leading edge of deployment and best uses?  Or keeping them "within the ecosystem" (which the one comment implies is already not going to be way of it)??

An iPhone, a Leatherman and thou...  ...life is complete.

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post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

It works via Bluetooth. So obviously it won’t work with only iPhones; iPod touch and iPad will be able to do this, too.

 

Hmm, I wonder if it's the anticipation of this that's the source of the otherwise curious (to me anyway) notation within the Bluetooth settings that location services are improved with Bluetooth enabled? And the seeming fact that in at least my iOS 7 upgrade (and the patch) Bluetooth being "on" is the default reset?

post #29 of 33
Originally Posted by jfc1138 View Post

And the seeming fact that in at least my iOS 7 upgrade (and the patch) Bluetooth being "on" is the default reset?

 

That ticked me off, but I think it may have been part of it. Not that anything takes advantage of this feature yet…

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevinneal View Post

Does anyone know how this work, is it part of an app, so you have to have that app running to receive the info, or will it just pop up as part of iOS as a notification?

Just stumbled on the specific answer from MLB rep Eric O'Brien, the director of wireless product development.

"Using iBeacon, MLB's app could also keep track of visits, even if the fan didn't check in or open the app. That way, it can extend different types of offers to first timers and "regulars."
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post #31 of 33

Google doesn't like this technology because neither the Beacons (which just transmit passively) nor the operating system (which just sees ID numbers without context) record any tracking data.

 

Tracking is all down to the apps and their developers - which would be out of Google's hands.

post #32 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

It works via Bluetooth. So obviously it won’t work with only iPhones; iPod touch and iPad will be able to do this, too.

It's not even unique to Apple. It's part of bluetooth standards with development going back to at least 2007. PayPal has it's own bluetooth Beacon feature but they're walking straight to the payment desk. Apple is going there thru the back door.

So iBeacon is the name Apple assigns to their implementation of the standard. PayPal simply calls it Beacon. There's not many companies yet positioned to see serious income from integrating the protocol either. Apple already has most of the pieces in place.

http://wiki.foaf-project.org/w/BluetoothBeacon
Edited by Gatorguy - 9/28/13 at 7:11am
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post #33 of 33
anyone know if 3rd party developers can access these beacons as we'd love to integrate them into our LiveBaseballChat app.
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