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SXSW festival to use more than 1,000 Apple iBeacons for location-based alerts, meetups

This year's SXSW festival in Austin, Tex., will feature more than a thousand iBeacon transmitters onsite, allowing attendees to receive timely, location-specific messages and the ability to connect with others.

iBeacons debuted at SXSW 2014 in a limited fashion, but for this year's event the festival is ramping up their use. Relying on Bluetooth Low Energy, the Gimbal-built iBeacons will provide attendees with a view of others in the vicinity, making it easier for people to make connections.

The new "Around Me" feature will also allow users to introduce themselves to others with a quick message through the official SXSW Go app. The iBeacon support is cross-platform, offering compatibility with Apple's iPhone 4s or newer, recent iPads, and the Android-powered Nexus 5 and 6 and Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5.

The opt-in Around Me feature will be powered by more than 1,000 iBeacon transmitters located around the event, according to The Next Web. Users will also receive location-based messages, and alerts about who may have arrived recently.

iBeacons use Bluetooth Low Energy technology to communicate with iPhones in close proximity, allowing for location-based features. For example, Apple uses iBeacons at its own retail stores to keep users up to date on in-store happenings, offer easy access to product reviews, and even allowing users to view their iPhone upgrade eligibility or pick up their online order.

iBeacons do require some level of user effort in order to start working. For example, a user must have a specific app installed for local transmitters to connect, and they must have Bluetooth and the appropriate notifications enabled.