To make it easier for participants to find their locations in the large exhibition halls, Apple’s iBeacon is adopted at the Computex Taipei this year as a substitution for GPS, which is not suitable to establish indoor locations. The use of iBeacon through mobile app may also be the first large-scale public application in Taiwan.
Let’s see how it works.
iBeacon works on Bluetooth Smart that can be found on Bluetooth 4.0 devices. It is not only possible to replace part of functions of the Near Field Communication (NFC), it also has several other applications such as replacing GPS as an indoor navigator.
Although iBeacon is created under the Apple trademark, Apple does not restrict the indoor proximity system to be used on Apple devices. Any Bluetooth 4.0 devices could connect iBeacon through an app.
Participants of Computex have to download “Computex Taipei” app and turn on bluetooth on their smartphones before accessing iBeacon technology, which supports iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.
According to our tests, it generally took at least five minutes to locate positions. Android phones even failed to find the locations sometimes with iBeacon. In addition, iBeacon’s base stations are only equipped in the exhibition space rather than the entire buildings. Take the Nangang Exhibition Hall, for example; participants were not able to locate positions in the external hallways and the third and fifth floors, which are outside the booth area.
In fact, the technology can also send push notifications of vendors, themes and contact information to iBeacon users in close proximity of booths. But it is a shame that it seems like this year’s Computex does not make good use of this function.
After locating a position, the direction iBeacon showed and the relative location that iBeacon provided was pretty accurate, which was only about two to three meters away from the target locations.