After a test last year with a handful of ibeacons, SxSW2015 scales op to be the largest beacon deployment ever carried out for any event. With a solid 1000 beacons installed around the 280 official SxSW venue places all over Austin, SxSW go-ers have all right to feel tracked.
The Bluetooth low energy devices allow visitors to quickly see who is speaking, performing, or in a panel.
A happy step-up from the usual marketing push, SxSW’s beacons want to offer the visitors information that is specifically linked to their location, and to the keynote that they are seeing. A nifty add-on is that through the “around me” function in the official SxSW Go application, you can also identify people around you who share the same interests… an ideal conversation starter for great live (or virtual) connections.
iBeacons push out information at the different shuttle harbors through the city, informing people when the next bus will be docking.
There are some set-backs though… people with Windows Phones are left in the cold (once again), and things turn out a little bit more complicated for iOS and Android users than is comfortable. Most of the devices turn Bluetooth in non-discoverable as a standard… with people having a hard time finding how to toggle off that setting.
The second set-back is a hilarious one: education. It turns out that most of the over 30.000 attendees simply have no idea that the extensive iBeacon network is deployed throughout Texas weirdest city. Without turned on Bluetooth and linked-through-the app, there is no show.
The ones who do, seem hesitant to accept linking to the iBeacon network. The suspicion of “Big Brother linking to my data” proves too strong to seduce the audience in lowering their perceived sense of security. Maybe the audience will warm to the idea over the next days to come.
Question is: if these SxSW connected hipsters have second thoughts over a benign iBeacon network… how will plain out consumers react to their deployment in the local mall?