Major League Baseball Rolling Out Thousands of iBeacons for Opening Day

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Next week, Major League Baseball will begin rolling out thousands of iBeacons in ballparks around the country according to a source familiar with the plans who shared them with MacRumors.

    The league is looking to have twenty parks outfitted with roughly 100 iBeacons each by Opening Day at the end of March. Boston, Milwaukee, San Diego, LA Dodgers, and San Francisco are among the teams that will have iBeacons installed.

    The iBeacon deployment is one of the largest rollouts in the world, aside from Apple Retail's 254-store effort. MLB will be using iBeacons sourced from Qualcomm.

    The iBeacons will work with primarily with MLB's At The Ballpark app, demonstrated at Citi Field last fall. The app should be updated by Opening Day with iBeacon support.

    Functionality will vary by ballpark, with individual teams having significant input and control over what users will see. There are a number of potential use cases including point of interest information, concessions, loyalty and rewards programs, shopping, and more. Specific scenarios have yet to be determined for each ballpark and teams will share more information as it gets closer to Opening Day.

    Separately, the NFL is rolling out a limited number of iBeacons at MetLife Stadium, the Super Bowl venue for this year, and in Times Square. The beacons will mostly be used to help users get to entry gates and to find Super Bowl-related tourist attractions in the area.

    At The Ballpark already includes extensive ticketing functions introduced last year. Ticketing is fully integrated in the app and users can see all tickets they own, a significant perk for season ticket holders. Tickets can also be transferred from user to user, allowing ticket holders to send unused tickets to friends and family. With iBeacon, the app will be able to offer ticket holders precise directions to the appropriate gate and to their seats. Users can work end-to-end within the app: buying tickets, showing them at the gate, and then using the app to find their seats.

    The main purpose of the iBeacons, according to our source, is to improve the fan experience -- not make money. The league is taking a "longer range view" and iBeacon isn't designed to drive revenue in a direct sense. "Time is more valuable than money", so MLB wants to make the fan experience "as efficient as possible". It is looking to eliminate time wasters like waiting in line at the will call window, and it doesn't want fans wandering the ballpark looking for their seats.

    However, there is a significant revenue opportunity to be found. iBeacons allow fans to signal their intent, whether it's browsing for merchandise, looking for food or something else. It allows ball clubs to be more proactive at fulfilling fan needs and "it's better for you as a fan". At The Ballpark already includes a loyalty and rewards component, but with iBeacons, clubs could proactively send a push notification to fans thanking them for their tenth visit to the ballpark and directing them to a nearby concession stand for a free hot dog.

    The precision of the iBeacon's location determining ability varies depending on both use case and subsequent placement of the iBeacon hardware. Determining installation locations for iBeacons within a major league ballpark is a major undertaking. If installed properly, the app will be able to determine things like whether users are physically in a store versus looking in the window, or if they need to move to a different row in a particular section.

    MLB is also working to bring reliable Wi-Fi to all thirty ballparks, as well as working with all major carriers to improve cellular reception inside the facilities. Currently, many fans have difficulties using data or making calls, particularly during particularly exciting moments in the game. iBeacons can currently trigger any content -- videos, photos, text -- that are preloaded in the app, but for optional items like video clips triggered by plaques at Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, having reliable Wi-Fi would be a significant improvement to the fan experience.

    The Bluetooth LE protocol used by the iBeacons is not subject to connectivity conditions, so users should be able to get directions to their seats or other content already stored within the app regardless of the status of their cellular connection.

    Fans looking to get started with MLB iBeacons should download free At The Ballpark app to their iPhone and then sign up for a free account to get started. Users need to install At The Ballpark and specifically opt-in to receive messages from iBeacons, preventing unwanted notifications. [Direct Link]

    Article Link: Major League Baseball Rolling Out Thousands of iBeacons for Opening Day
  2. larrylaffer macrumors 6502


    Aug 1, 2009
    Los Angeles
    As a Dodgers season ticket holder, I'm excited by this.

    First for Vin Scully.
  3. dannyyankou macrumors 603


    Mar 2, 2012
    Very excited about iBeacons. Many possibilities with this technology.
  4. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
    I like that iBeacon is actually something that looks like it's getting some use.
  5. Bill Killer macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2011
    Is there a list of parks that are adopting this for Opening Day/2014? The staff scans my digital ticket from my StubHub app on my iPhone, and an easier way to do this would be greatly preferred.

    Also, go Rangers.
  6. jlgolson Contributing Editor


    Jun 2, 2011
    Durango, CO
    Not that they've released.
  7. solipsism macrumors 6502

    Jan 13, 2008
    This will not affect how you gain entry to the park.
  8. ateslik macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2008
    From the screenshots its apparent that iBeacons also improve battery life and cell reception. Awesome!
  9. taptic macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2012
  10. osofast240sx macrumors 68030


    Mar 25, 2011
  11. machpost macrumors 6502


    Jan 28, 2010
    Washington, DC
    Those new features sound promising, but as a Nationals season ticket holder, I've never seen any integration of my tickets with the MLB At The Ballpark app. Maybe some of those features work at other ballparks, but last season my tickets were loaded onto an RFID-based card that I used for entry to games.

    And from my experiences at Nationals Park and other ballparks, they have a long, long way to go in regard to improved cellular and WiFi access. Cellular service was practically nonexistent at heavily-attended games at Nats Park, and the WiFi has always been useless.
  12. solipsism macrumors 6502

    Jan 13, 2008
    Only if they don't have an Android app and choose not add the functionality to let the app work with the iBeacon devices. The biggest hold up for Android-based devices is that relatively few of them come with BT 4.0.

    IOW, these iBeacon-compatible devices they are deploying are not using any proprietary technologies that Apple has control over. It's the standard bluetooth protocol for BLE-capable devices.

    iBeacon is so far only Apple's branding but they could potentially add other technological features that could take the branding down a proprietary path.
  13. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    Another Dodgers season ticket holder (share). Where are your seats?

    I'm not as excited about iBeacon at Dodger Stadium as I am about the team's chances this season. ;)

    I'm more curious, really, as to whether this actually "adds to the fan experience" or will result in more people gazing at their phones instead of watching the game -- something I already find annoying. The fact that the wifi and cellular coverage at the stadium still stinks after the supposed upgrades last year is actually fine with me.
  14. bmunge macrumors regular

    Mar 7, 2012
    Exactly. And it's not a terrible thing to have something Android users associate with an amazing experience having the Apple 'i' attached to it. iBeacon makes Apple look like geniuses (they are) after all the crap they got about not implementing NFC each iteration.
  15. HiRez macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2004
    Western US
    Now connect this system with sensors that measure the urine level on the bathroom floors and we have something.
  16. kingtj macrumors 68020

    Oct 23, 2003
    Brunswick, MD
  17. larrylaffer macrumors 6502


    Aug 1, 2009
    Los Angeles
    At Dodger Stadium, or the Apple Store, or anywhere else, I don't really see iBeacon being used for anything other than spurious advertising that I don't really want to deal with while I'm trying to enjoy the game. So, I'll probably be disabling this unless they come up with something super clever to convince me otherwise.

    I'm moving down from the Top Deck to the Infield Reserve this year. :)
  18. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    i used the passbook tickets last year to watch the Mets spank the Nats on April 19th and wasn't impressed. took the machine like 20 seconds to read them while people with paper tickets were a lot faster

    and the last thing i want is to keep bluetooth on all the time and watch my battery drain as it gets polled.

    with the big signs everywhere it's not that hard to find your seats


    that's nothing
    when i saw the yanks last year, i swear half the people got out of their seats to walk around and shop in the store or sit in a club and watch the game on the TV's there
  19. budselectjr macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2009
    "loyalty and rewards programs" is the most interesting part for me. In the provided picture it knows that it is your first time at the stadium and offers a coupon. I use foursquare but sometimes forget to open it and never aware of any deals where I am. If this setup would auto detect and send a push notification then that would be nice.
  20. macrumors 68000

    May 25, 2012
    #20 has been pretty integrated at chase field (dbacks park) so i am assuming it comes there.
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    Nice. Infield Reserve, Section 1 for us. I think this must our tenth year in that spot. I sure don't need help finding our seats anymore. Now, if they could help us get out of the parking lot faster after the game, that would be an innovation.
  22. Tech198 macrumors G4

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    haha.. "Should be updated"

    allot of red faces if its not...

    And ya, the article forgot to mention "Its only Apple users can can enjoy this.."

    Sorry Android.
  23. larrylaffer macrumors 6502


    Aug 1, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I've been using the Express, but last season a lot of other people starting using it too and now it takes forever. :( We've seriously considered finding an apartment near Elysian park just to be able to walk there.
  24. quietstormSD macrumors 6502a


    Mar 2, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I'm pretty happy that this could be coming to San Diego for the Padres games. It may actually make me by the official MLB app.

    NFL games maybe more difficult due to the number of people that stadiums hold along with the frequencies being broadcast that can range from broadcasts to communications within teams to referees.
  25. shto macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2014
    How do they get people to turn Bluetooth on?

    So, in order for iBeacons to work, Bluetooth needs to be turned on, but most people don't usually have their Bluetooth on all the time.

    Does anyone know how MLB or the MLB application suggests that people turn on their Bluetooth?

    iBeacons is great, but useless if you don't have Bluetooth on...

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