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Friday, September 27, 2013, 06:10 am PT (09:10 am ET)

MLB stadiums to deploy Apple's iBeacons for fan convenience, interactivity

In a bid to make the ballpark experience more engaging for fans, Major League Baseball plans to roll out Apple's new iBeacons technology to deliver targeted information and offers based on a fan's location within the park, according to a new report.

MLB At the Ballpark app


When Major League Baseball's 2014 season gets underway next May, fans with iOS devices will find their day at the ballpark more convenient and interactive as MLB plans to roll out updates to its At the Ballpark app that take advantage of micro-location technology enabled by Apple's iBeacons. MLB has been working with Apple on the concept since February, months before iBeacons were revealed to the public at June's Worldwide Developers Conference, according to a report from Mashable.

MLB demonstrated the new technology on Thursday at the New York Mets' Citi Field, showing off several potential applications. Fans who purchase their tickets from MLB could have the tickets' barcode automatically displayed on their device as they approach the gate, for example, alongside a map of their seat location. Those who visit a concession stand might be given a virtual "point card," while fans shopping for merchandise can be served coupons upon entering the team store.

Since the features can be customized for each team and each ballpark, they can also be used to turn the stadium into a sort of "living museum" — part of Thursday's demonstration had the app play a video about the history of the Mets' iconic home run apple when standing near the statue.

"Essentially, we want to create micro-locations within the stadiums where you can get different experiences," said Marc Abramson, an MLB developer who works on MLB's iOS apps, adding that the league "couldn't be more excited about the potential" of iBeacons. MLB considered using GPS for the new features, but issues with spatial accuracy and reception made that approach less than ideal.

iBeacons are a new micro-location technology in iOS 7 that uses the power-sipping Bluetooth low energy standard to help iOS devices determine their location with a high degree of accuracy without GPS or cell tower triangulation. Apps can take advantage of this granular location data in a variety of ways, like providing indoor mapping and navigation or customizing the app's behavior based on a user's proximity to a specific object.