2015 SXSW is now partnered up with Eventbase. A mobile event platform company from Vancouver, Canada. They literally installed over 1,000 beacons, which come in two sizes: a palm-sized $35 AAA battery-powered device and a little blue one only a bit larger than a quarter. These beacons use Bluetooth Low Energy technology to connect with SXSW attendees who have downloaded the SXSW Go app.
“The largest beacon deployment ever done at an event” said Ben West, Eventbase co-founder.
“iBeacon is a fairly new technology in the event space,” said West, “It provides a new way to interact with content and attendees.”
It also provides some functionality that may be quite familiar to anyone who used on of those Near Me apps.
So in addition to to notifications about who is, for example lining up to hear Al Gore speak and easily find all the social conversations (tweets) revolving around the session, SXSW Go uses the iBeacon technology to help attendees easily network. If you opt in to being visible (it’s very easy to opt out), other attendees can see where you are in the convention hall, you can see interesting people near you and attendees can even message each other with the app’s built-in messaging platform.
“SXSW is using beacons to propel smart networking by using proximity in a way that was not previously possible. Since SXSW takes place throughout the city, beacons are allowing us to use micro-locations and context in conjunction with attendee profiles to help people sync up in real-time,” said Scott Wilcox, SXSW director of technology.
Most of the iBeacons are dotted throughout the Austin Convention Center (they’re so small, you probably won’t be able to spot a single one), but there are also some along Austin’s bustling 6th Street, where many of the bands will perform during SXSW Music. Eventbase and SXSW have taken care though to adjust the system so that just because you pass an iBeacon-enabled venue, it doesn’t assume you’re there. “We look at how long you have to be in a venue to be considered ‘there,'” said West.