Using iBeacon in Libraries

A new paper Smart Library Applications in Oman using iBeacon Technology: A Case Study by Asma Abdullah Saleh Alabbadi and S. M. Emdad Hossain discusses the implementation of Bluetooth technology at the University of Nizwa Library in Oman to enhance library services using the latest technology. They use Bluetooth Low Energy to provide location-based services within the library, allowing users to easily locate books on the shelves, receive updates about new arrivals and library events and reduce staff workload by automating responses to frequent queries.

The study highlights the increasing integration of smartphones and communication technologies in various sectors, emphasising the need for academic libraries to adopt these technologies to improve efficiency and user satisfaction. By linking Bluetooth with the library’s Koha system through a smartphone application, users can navigate the library more independently, which streamlines operations and improves service delivery.

The paper includes a detailed discussion on the broader applications of spatial computing and iBeacon technology in various fields, showing its versatility and relevance. The authors propose further support for modern technological integration in libraries to maintain relevance and enhance the user experience.

Crowdsensing Proximity Detection

There’s a new study on the performance of a proximity detection system for visitors in indoor museums using a Crowdsensing-based technique, authored by Michele Girolami, Davide La Rosa, and Paolo Barsocchi. This approach uses Bluetooth beacon data collected from visitors’ smartphones to calibrate two proximity detection algorithms: a range-based and a learning-based algorithm, embedded within a museum visiting application tested in the Monumental Cemetery’s museum in Pisa, Italy.

The experimental results demonstrate a significant improvement in performance when using crowd-sourced data, with accuracy metrics showing up to a 30% improvement compared to state-of-the-art algorithms. The research introduces a novel contribution by employing a Crowdsensing approach to improve the accuracy of proximity detection algorithms in a challenging indoor environment.

The study provides a detailed experimental campaign, including the design of the mobile application named R-app, to assess the performance enhancements achieved through this innovative method. The authors conclude that integrating Crowdsensing techniques with proximity detection algorithms offers a promising solution for enhancing visitor experiences in cultural heritage contexts.

The resultant collected data is also available.

Read about Beacons in Events and Visitor Spaces

Sample Bluetooth Beacon Museum Data Available

Research on Bluetooth dataset for proximity detection in indoor environments collected with smartphones by Michele Girolami, Davide La Rosa, and Paolo Barsocchi, outlines the creation and details of a dataset aimed at enhancing proximity detection between people and points of interest (POIs) within indoor environments, particularly museums.

This dataset is created from Bluetooth beacon data collected from various smartphones during 32 museum visits, showing the interaction with Bluetooth tags placed near artworks. It includes data such as Received Signal Strength (RSSI) values, timestamps and artwork identifiers, providing a comprehensive ground truth for the start and end times of artwork visits.

The dataset is particularly designed for researchers and industry professionals looking to explore or improve upon methods for detecting the proximity between individuals and specific POIs using commercially available smartphone technologies. The primary aim is to facilitate rapid prototyping and the evaluation of indoor localisation and proximity detection algorithms under realistic conditions, leveraging accurate ground truth annotations and detailed hardware specifications.

The authors highlight the dataset’s significance in enabling the testing of proximity detection algorithms under real-world conditions, using data collected with commercial smartphones and Bluetooth tags. It allows for the examination of how RSS values vary across different devices and conditions, including during non-proximity events, providing insights into how these values change as a person approaches or leaves an artwork. This dataset is invaluable for researchers and startups aiming to analyse and automatically detect proximity between subjects and POIs in realistic conditions.

In creating the dataset, the team focused on replicating real-world museum visit conditions, ensuring visitors behaved naturally and that data collection reflected a variety of smartphones and visiting paths to accommodate device heterogeneity and environmental conditions. The methodology included varying the smartphones used for data collection and the sequence of artworks visited, to simulate different user experiences and conditions encountered in a museum setting.

Read about Beacons in Events and Visitor Spaces

How Bluetooth Technology is Enhancing Museum Experiences

The traditional museum experience is undergoing a remarkable transformation. Central to this change is the integration of Bluetooth technology, particularly through the use of Bluetooth beacons. These small, wireless devices are redefining visitor interactions, creating more immersive, informative, and personalised experiences.

Personalised Tours at Your Fingertips

One of the most significant advantages of Bluetooth beacons is the ability to use them with apps to offer personalised tours. As visitors move through a museum, beacons located near exhibits can send information directly to their smartphones or provided devices. This can tailor content to individual preferences, past viewing history, or even language, making the museum tour more engaging and accessible for everyone.

Bringing Exhibits to Life

Imagine standing before an ancient artifact and receiving not just text-based information, but an interactive story that takes you back in time. Bluetooth beacons make this possible. By triggering audio narratives, augmented reality experiences, or video content as visitors approach, they bring a dynamic and vivid dimension to the exhibits, far beyond what traditional static displays offer.

Enhanced Learning Opportunities

Educational outreach is a core mission for many museums. Bluetooth beacons can enhance learning by providing additional layers of information, interactive quizzes and scavenger hunts for younger visitors. This interactive form of learning is not only more engaging but also helps in retaining information and sparking a deeper interest in the subject matter.

Crowd Management and Flow

Museums can be overwhelming, especially when they are crowded. Bluetooth technology can help manage the flow of visitors by providing real-time data on crowded areas. This information can be used to suggest alternative routes to visitors, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable visit. It also helps museum staff to better manage and distribute the crowd, enhancing the overall visitor experience.

Accessibility for All

Accessibility is a crucial aspect of modern museums. Bluetooth beacons can provide visually impaired visitors with audio descriptions, guiding them through the museum and describing exhibits in detail. This level of accessibility ensures that museums are a place of learning and inspiration for everyone.

Collecting Valuable Insights

For museum administrators, Bluetooth beacons are a goldmine of visitor data. They can track which exhibits attract the most attention, average dwell times and visitor flow patterns. This data is invaluable for making informed decisions about exhibit placement, marketing strategies and future exhibit planning.

Sustainable and Cost-Effective

Bluetooth beacons are low-energy devices, making them an environmentally friendly and cost-effective option for museums. Their low power consumption means they can run for years on a single battery, reducing maintenance costs and their environmental footprint.


The integration of Bluetooth technology in museums is a significant leap towards making art, culture, and history more accessible and engaging in the digital age. Bluetooth beacons are playing a crucial role in this transformation, offering personalised, immersive and accessible experiences to every visitor.

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Study on Visitor Behaviour in Museums

There’s new research from the Department of Architecture and Design (DAD), Turin, Italy on Technology as a tool to study visitor behaviour in museums: positioning and neuropsychological detection to identify physical & cognitive barriers (pdf).

Inclusive communication projects in museums often rely on general principles of design without considering how unique a cultural experience it should be. It’s important to study all types of visitors, especially those who feel left out, to understand their experiences better and help them feel more included. However, tracking visitors in a museum can be difficult due to the indoor environment and the need to avoid affecting their behaviour.

To tackle this, the researchers used Bluetooth to study individual experiences. They used a Raspberry Pi that can located a user based on signals from Bluetooth beacons, providing a cheap way to track visitors indoors.

This system was tested at the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome, Italy. About 60 visitors were tracked, and their emotional responses were measured using a special bracelet. This data was stored and analysed to understand how visitors’ locations in the museum might relate to their emotional experiences, such as spending more time near pieces of art that have a strong emotional impact.

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iBeacon-enabled Interactive Audio Walk

Lydspor is an immersive, interactive audio walk taking visitors through the history of Helsingør in Denmark. This project makes use of iBeacon technology, allowing it to precisely locate you as you meander down Hestemøllestræde. It is not just an auditory experience but a site-specific sensory journey, produced after one and a half years of intensive research.

The Lydspor team explored soma design methods, focusing on affective interaction design and the concept of bodies as interconnected and multisensory, transcending just human interaction. This exploration and the resultant understanding were then integrated into the design process to create a unique combination of somatic and affective design, aimed at providing site-specific sonic augmentations that vividly communicate the history of the space.

Scattered along Hestemøllestræde are beacons, each telling a distinct historical tale. The accompanying app has been designed to provide a seamless auditory experience that requires minimal device interaction, further enhancing the immersive nature of the walk.

There’s also a research paper with videos.

Study into Monitoring Museum Exhibition Visitors

There’s recent research from Brno University of Technology and National Museum – Natural History Museum, Prague, Czech Republic on Monitoring visitors using wireless technologies (pdf) in which BeaconZone is referenced.

The paper looks into the historical and existing technologies such as WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Ultra-Wideband and RFID for tracking visitors.

The authors propose a new solution combining existing technologies with heat maps from camera images.

Analysing visitor behaviour, museums can identify popular and unpopular areas and make adjustments accordingly, such as adding interactive elements to specific exhibits. Visitor behaviour also helps museums make informed decisions about marketing and promotions. Tracking visitor movements can also help identify and mitigate potential security risks in real time.

Aventri Event Apps Use iBeacon

Aventri is an all-in-one event platform that allows enterprise companies to run engaging in-person, virtual and hybrid events.

Their mobile event app can detect beacons placed at strategic locations across the event, for example, at each booth. The iBeacon can cause the app to show an automated message when a visitor is in range of a booth. It also allows you to silently measure foot traffic at the event.

Read about Beacons in Events and Visitor Spaces

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Beacons for Immersive Experiences

We are seeing beacons increasingly being used in immersive experiences in theatre productions, events, museums, galleries, theme parks and with augmented reality (AR). Beacons provide physical location cues for tech-driven immersive experiences.

Beacons have a variety of uses in immersive experiences. They cause things to happen based on the location of a person or things or their mutual proximity. They provide a way of counting how many people or things are in an area. Some beacons have buttons that allow for human interaction. There are also sensor beacons that expand what’s possible through the detection of temperature, light, proximity, physical open/closed, movement and fall detection. Beacons replace what might usually have been done manually thus saving costs, sometimes implementing scenarios that are impractical to do manually. While the emphasis is usually all about maximising the experience, beacons also allow the collection of data so that it’s possible to learn from current or past installations.

Beacons are small, battery powered devices that can last months to years without changing the battery. They are detected by smartphones, gateways or single board computers such as Raspberry Pi.

We have immersive experience clients such as dreamthinkspeak, Playlines, Punchdrunk, Sophie Jump using our beacons. We also provide consultancy an example of which is Royal Museums Greenwich’s AR immersive experience for which we have a case study.

Cutty Sark

Beacons help make immersive experiences more physical and magical.

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