New technology will help baseball fans find their seat, a hot dog and more
According to a report from MacRumors.com, Apple's iBeacon technology will make its debut in as many as 20 major league ballparks nationwide.
iBeacon technology works like a micro-level GPS -- or "indoor positioning system" -- able to differentiate floors and sections within buildings. It is currently limited to use on Apple's iOS 7 devices. According to the manufacturer, it is "a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence."
The small, low-cost transmitters -- iBeacons -- are placed throughout venues such as stadiums and department stores and, with user approval, are meant to notify iOS 7 carriers via push notifications when certain distance thresholds are met.
In 2014, fans with MLB's free At the Ballpark app will have the ability to utilize the new technology to enhance their game day experience.
It is currently unknown whether or not Chase Field will be among the 20 ballparks rolling out the technology. Six stadiums have been confirmed as iBeacon users in 2014.
From the MacRumors report:
Functionality will vary by ballpark, with individual teams having significant input and control over what users will see. There are a number of potential use cases including point of interest information, concessions, loyalty and rewards programs, shopping, and more. Specific scenarios have yet to be determined for each ballpark and teams will share more information as it gets closer to Opening Day.
The main purpose of the iBeacons, according to our source, is to improve the fan experience -- not make money. The league is taking a "longer range view" and iBeacon isn't designed to drive revenue in a direct sense. "Time is more valuable than money", so MLB wants to make the fan experience "as efficient as possible". It is looking to eliminate time wasters like waiting in line at the will call window, and it doesn't want fans wandering the ballpark looking for their seats.
However, there is a significant revenue opportunity to be found. iBeacons allow fans to signal their intent, whether it's browsing for merchandise, looking for food or something else. It allows ball clubs to be more proactive at fulfilling fan needs and "it's better for you as a fan". At The Ballpark already includes a loyalty and rewards component, but with iBeacons, clubs could proactively send a push notification to fans thanking them for their tenth visit to the ballpark and directing them to a nearby concession stand for a free hot dog.
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