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Levi's Stadium app makes use of Aruba beacons to help 49ers fans get around

Matt Hamblen | Nov. 5, 2014
Beacons rely on Bluetooth Low Energy and cost a fraction of Wi-Fi access points.

"We were pretty well-prepared to deal with issues which required tweaks," he said.

The wireless service provided to users at Levi's Stadium is "expected in this day and age," Williams said, but that doesn't diminish the complexity of the work and the two years of preparation.

"A tangible difficulty was developing a solution for a building that was not constructed, and when it finally was complete, there was no real way to fill it up with people until our first real event on Aug. 2," he added. "Doing our homework and making educated guesses just about worked. Tweaks were needed, but we felt really good about the solution after the first event."

Williams said the experience convinced him it's important to "expect the unexpected and take risks."

For Aruba, the Levi's Stadium project is a valuable case study to prove its beacon technology prowess, including both hardware and management software. The company also has projects for beacons underway at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Orlando International Airport and the Nebraska Furniture Mart.

Aruba's Hardison said the museum used an indoor Wi-Fi-based positioning system starting in 2010, but decided to move to beacons to help users with building navigation. The beacons, he said, provided users with greater accuracy and a better experience with the app. With the app at Levi's Stadium, a blue dot on a map can move more accurately because of the beacons, he said.

Beacons are also more affordable than Wi-Fi access points (APs) , a factor that is likely to help in their adoption. An industrial-grade Wi-Fi AP can cost $500 to $1,000, while a single beacon can cost $25 to $30, Hardison said. Aruba hasn't announced exact prices for its beacons, which will come either as battery-powered or with a USB connector that can attach to a Wi-Fi AP for power.

Pricing for the Aruba beacons will be announced in the first quarter of 2015. Also in that quarter, Aruba Mobile Engagement software ships. That software will be a free upgrade for Aruba Meridian customers.

 

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