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

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    This just sounds like a way to push targeted advertisements to your phone while you're trying to watch a game.
  • Reply 2 of 32
    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).

  • Reply 3 of 32
    This is going to unleash an enormous new wave of apps. The possibilities here are endless.
  • Reply 4 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,732member
    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?
  • Reply 5 of 32
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 32
    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. 

  • Reply 7 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,732member
    sog35 wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 32
    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...
  • Reply 9 of 32
    Please, PLEASE put this in my grocery store so it doesn't take me an hour to find the green beans!
  • Reply 10 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,732member
    phasornc wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 32
    jacknc wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 32
    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.

  • Reply 13 of 32
    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?
  • Reply 14 of 32

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

  • Reply 15 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,732member
    kevinneal wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 32
    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. 

  • Reply 17 of 32
    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.

  • Reply 18 of 32
    Am I missing something or is there an iBeacon hardware device involved, or just Apple AE routers?
  • Reply 19 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,732member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 32

    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.

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