Location-Based Signage Technology

by Nick Jerome

Imagine walking into a retail store and feeling your mobile device buzz in your pocket or bag. You receive a message with a 20% offer if you try something on. You are already in a store you like, so taking it one step further for a discount doesn’t seem like much to ask. After trying on a few clothes, you show your message at checkout and walk out happy. Retailers know that trying something on increases your likelihood to purchase and new technology helps this happen seamlessly.

Location Based Signage Photo: 9to5mac

Next Generation: Beacons, Apps, Near Field Communication (NFC) and Wi-Fi

Did the experience involve a physical sign? What happened behind the scenes with this experience? Public Wi-Fi, apps, beacons and Near Field Communication (NFC) have created the next generation of communication between physical space and your mobile device. This market is expected to continue growing and your mobile device may be the newest and smartest type of signage.

Why Use Beacons and Apps

In the retail example above, the customer has the retailer’s app downloaded with the push notifications setting enabled. When the customer entered the store, the app recognized a beacon placed in the store and triggered the message notification. In many ways, the content on the mobile device acted as the promotional signage . Due to proximity to the beacon, it could be a highly targeted message. Beacons are relatively small devices that operate using Bluetooth technology and are ideal for indoor applications where GPS is less reliable.

Beacons can also be used for indoor wayfinding applications. As a visitor or attendee to any large venue, you can download the proper app and take advantage of beacons throughout a facility that help identify coordinates and push messages to you that help you navigate as if you were using the GPS in your vehicle. This could be helpful during a large or complex indoor event such as a convention, trade show or conference.

All About Near Field Communication

Near field communication is another technology that can enhance user experience. A small inexpensive chip is programmed to send the user to digital content such as a music download, website or contact form. This chip is attached or embedded within the sign. A call to action is printed on the sign such as “tap here to download the latest single” or “touch your NFC-enabled mobile device here to watch the video.” The user simply holds their device in the area of the sign and then a prompt appears on their screen. The challenge here is that not all mobile devices have NFC technology and some that do only allow it to be used for payment purposes.

Convenient Wi-Fi Networks

If you’ve ever used a Wi-Fi network in a retail store or airport, you know that many free networks serve a dual purpose. While free Wi-Fi is convenient for you, the retailer or company can often capture user data. In some cases, companies can push the user to specific content. If you‘ve ever used a hotel’s WiFi network, you probably noticed that your browser sends you to a landing page to accept their terms. This landing page may also include specific messaging from the hotel or ads. In other instances, the network may be available to connect, but it will only allow limited navigation to specific pages or content. This helps bridge the gap between your device and their environment, extending messaging often found on signage in the same area.

Technology is offering a whole new way to look at visual communications. Through the use of Wi-Fi networks, apps, near field communication and beacons, we can enhance the experience and offer relevant content to event-goers, retail customers, property residents and more.

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