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Friday, March 21, 2014, 06:56 am PT (09:56 am ET)

Apple's iBeacon used to push seat upgrades in nosebleeds at sporting events

Some U.S. sports arenas have begun pushing ticket upgrades to fans in the cheap seats through Apple's iBeacon technology for iPhone, offering users the ability to upgrade their seats quickly and easily.


An iBeacon transmitter from Sonic Notify.


The Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association have begun using iBeacons to reach out to iPhone users who attend games at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., according to Bloomberg. Attendees are reportedly offered ticket upgrades once they step off the escalators at the top of the stadium, on their way to their seats.

Sonic Notify is company responsible for the rollout of iBeacons at Oracle Arena, with "several dozen 2-by-2-inch" sensors now installed at the home of the Warriors. The company estimates that fewer than 30 percent of smartphone users with Bluetooth Low Energy capable devices keep the feature turned on regularly, though the Warriors indicated that about half of the ticket upgrades they have pushed thus far were purchased by fans.
Thus far, sports teams and retailers have been quick to adopt Apple's iBeacon to reach customers.
The new initiative makes the Warriors the first team in the NBA to utilize Apple's iBeacon technology. Major League Baseball has firmly embraced the technology already, and has already begun utilizing iBeacons at 20 of its parks ahead of the 2014 baseball season.

MLB's implementation grants users targeted, location-based information regarding stadium amenities, points of interest and more. But like the Warriors, it also gives users the option to upgrade their seats directly from their iPhone once they arrive at a game.

The National Football League also tested out iBeacons at the Super Bowl in February, both in New York's Times Square, as well as MetLife Stadium where the championship game was held. The wireless, location-based technology was used to serve personalized ads to football fans.

In addition to sports teams, early iBeacon adoption has also taken off at retail, where Apple itself has utilized the Bluetooth Low Energy implementation to provide quick links to iPhone upgrade eligibility, EasyPay, help, support, and gift guides. Last year Macy's also ran a test pilot with iBeacon at flagship stores in New York City and San Francisco, tracking shoppers' movements throughout the stores and presenting offers based on where they are located.

Apple quietly introduced iBeacons alongside iOS 7 at July's Worldwide Developers Conference, and the Bluetooth Low Energy-based technology was quickly recognized for its potential to revolutionize location services with its low power requirements and ability to precisely pinpoint users' locations inside buildings. Many believe it could form the basis of a new iTunes-powered mobile payments system, similar to what Google has attempted to create with the NFC-based Google Wallet.