Shipping in 2015, Aruba Mobile Engagement is powered by a new line of Aruba Beacons. These are low-energy Bluetooth devices which, when deployed alongside applications built on the supplier’s Meridian app platform, will provide indoor location data for opted-in smartphones.
The low-powered 2.4GHz transmitters plug directly into an Aruba Wi-Fi network access point, which communicates with the beacons and the Meridian Cloud via Aruba Controller or Aruba Instant AP.
When a Bluetooth-enabled Android or iOS device with a Meridian app installed comes in range of an Aruba Beacon, the app will be able to push proximity-aware notifications straight to the device based on the user’s preference settings.
Unlike a traditional Wi-Fi network, which generally has an optimum density for better service, the density of the beacon network will vary from customer to customer, depending on the level of granularity they want to provide, which can be down to the metre if needed.
The View from The Shard will be using Mobile Engagement to offer users of its Shard View app more information on notable London landmarks, depending on where in the gallery they are standing, said marketing director Anna Domingo.
More on beacon technology
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With a million visitors in its first year of operation, the Shard has quickly become a major tourist destination and for many who head up to the viewing gallery, the first thing they do on arrival is take out a smartphone and begin taking photos.
“Our guests are very strongly engaged with the experience. We have customers from all over the world wanting to share their experience with people all over the world. We needed technology to allow us to make that possible,” said Domingo.
By enabling closer engagement with information hotspots, as well as mobile payments through near field communication (NFC), targeted display ads and special offers, Domingo said she hoped to enhance the visitor experience and surprise both first-time and repeat guests in what she termed a very “emotional space”.
In the future, The View from The Shard is also planning to deploy 3D augmented-reality viewing options on smartphones, and "future views" of London, all delivered in upcoming versions of its app.
Aruba CMO Greg Murphy said the service provided a “much more intimate and much more useful mode of engagement for the customer.”
The service is also already in operation in the US at the new home ground of the San Francisco 49ers American football team, where the team owners deployed 1,200 beacons to provide new services to spectators through the team app.
Such services include information on free spaces in the stadium’s car park, the ability to order food and drink to your seat, and even information on which toilets had the shortest queues.
Other applications for the service, Murphy said, would come in the shape of guiding shoppers around retail environments, directions around museums, and providing location-specific special offers for guests at hotels and restaurants.