For museums, galleries and public spaces, this is the most important development since the smartphone. It's the missing piece of the puzzle which will change the way mobile devices are used in public spaces, and legitimize their presence in the space, rather than be perceived as a distraction from it.
Did an exhibit ever move you to the point where you wanted to tell someone about it, or know what others thought too? iBeacons (in combination with a wireless / cellular network) can allow visitors to leave comments attached to items, browsableby other visitors in the vicinity.
Ever found yourself noting down beautiful paintings at Tate to google later at home? With iBeacons you can simply 'bookmark' the item for browsing later. For schools, art students or just the art curious, being able to take home a part of your visit will vastly improve the post-visit experience.
As the various applications of this technology become more pervasive, so will the data sets that allow the collection of meaningful data about how visitors move and interact in the space. There is also huge scope for beautiful real-time visualizations of visitor movement and building interactions.
Did you ever want to 'Like' a painting in a gallery, or tweet about a specific item in a museum?. As the iBeacons can determine you are next to a specific item, 'Liking' and tweeting functionality is simply contextual.
Digital games like Axon, High Tea, Thingdom and Launchball were all created to support physical galleries, but exist as standalone experiences outside of the gallery. With a single iBeacon and detection code in a mobile game, we can reward the player in-game for visiting the gallery. It could be as simple as a 'visit' achievement or new DLC. Whatever it is, we can now directly reward a visit, not just inspire one.
Perhaps the simplest application of the iBeacon technology is presenting information to a visitor based on their location. Brilliant for guides and orientation, but most impactful when tailoring content to specific audiences. From here on in, interpretation panels will only present high level information, with the visitor's smartphone delivering information that is tuned to the age group, their interests and in their native language.
Partner with local business and brands and push deals, promotional materials to the visitors' smart phones.
No QR codes, scanning or searching just relevant content appearing on your screen about the object you are in front of- then and there. Enable audio tours with Beacons as well.
Digital treasure hunts have always used QR codes or manual input to confirm the discovery of items. Set over large spaces this is (just) functional, but when set within smaller spaces, the game becomes more QR code spotting than genuine exploration. iBeacons allow us to detect when the player has discovered the thing they were looking for. It's intuitive, unobtrusive and invisible. It's a major game changer.
Perhaps the most obvious application of the technology is as a contextual interactive guide. Knowing the visitor's location, allows the guide to, for example, highlight the floor you're on, show where the closest to toilet is, and recommend - with basic personalization - attractions which are nearby and relevant for them.