Beacons on Cruise Ships

There’s a new in-depth article at PC Mag on how Carnival use beacons, based on Bluetooth and NFC, on cruise ships. As the article says, “it provides an excellent case study in how to use technology to enhance your customer’s experience”.

The beacons are branded as ‘OceanMedallion’ and allow:

  • Guests to unlock their stateroom
  • Guests to pay for drinks or items in shops
  • Guests to play in the casino
  • Housekeeping staff to keep track of whether or not the stateroom is occupied

7,000 sensors throughout each ship detect the beacons and 4000 interactive portals provide information for guests. A mobile app can also be used that can help navigate about the ship and find fellow passengers.

Beacons provide a way to eliminate friction in the passenger experience. The software system uses edge devices to perform operations close to where the user has been detected so as to reduce latency and network traffic. Nevertheless, the system attempts to centralise data so as not to replicate information.

The system provides Carnival with lots of useful data on guest preferences, transactions (for billing) and preferred areas of the ship. Aggregated information might be used to determine heavily used areas (for maintenance), pinch points and redundant areas of the ship to feed into improvements to the ship.

Read about Beacons in Hospitality

Read about Beacons in Visitor Spaces

Kiosk Pro for iOS Uses iBeacons

Kiosk Pro is an app for iOS that turns an iPad into a public kiosk.

The technical documentation shows how you can trigger the showing of specific information when in the vicinity of a particular beacon. For example, if the kiosk is static, people with different beacons might trigger the showing of different information. If the kiosk is moving, for example a tablet being held, it might trigger the showing of different information based on the location of, for example, different exhibits. The kiosk can also be set to advertise iBeacon that can be picked up in iOS and Android apps.

View iBeacons

Bluetooth Beacons in the Rijksmuseum

There’s an interesting post by Eirik Midttun on the the Nordic blog on Bluetooth Beacons in the Rijksmuseum.

BeaconZone’s very first solutions were apps for museums so we know a lot about the possible problems. Eirik comments that the app could be improved as it took a while to detect it was in a new room. He questions whether the beacon advertising was too long. If he was running on iOS, he could be correct. View our article on Choosing an Advertising Interval. If he was on Android it’s more likely that the Bluetooth scanning period and/or time between scans was too long.

Museum apps also tend to suffer from connectivity problems. If the connection was cellular rather than WiFi it might have been taking time to fetch the information associated with the beacon. It’s recommended to have some kind of caching content strategy for museum and visitor space apps where the best user experience is if the app can work offline.

Read about iOS and Android Apps

Read about our development Services

Holt iBeacon Trail

Holt Village has launched a new iBeacon Trail that uses the free ‘Explore North East Wales’ app from the Apple and Google app stores. It is one of twelve communities in North East Wales for which a system has been developed to find out more about the community and locations.

The project has been funded by the LEADER scheme which is a fund for rural areas in Wales to explore innovative new approaches and experimental technologies to tackle poverty, create jobs and drive sustainable economic development.

Beacons in the Smart Workspace

Sensorberg has a great new video that provides inspiration regarding what’s possible in the smart workspace:

This video also provides a learning for marketers. As with all the best ideas (and promotion), it’s often best not to mention how things are achieved – in this case predominantly using beacons. People don’t need to know this and are more interested in what it does, the benefits and how it makes people feel.

Beacons in Museums

Mr Beacon has a new video interview with Dieter Fenkart-Fröschlt, COO of the San Diego Museum of Art. The video explains why the San Diego Museum of Art adopted apps and beacons and explains some of the challenges they have faced.

The museum has about 360,000 visitors per year, 18,000 works of art with 700 to 800 works of art on display at any one time. Apps and beacons became part of their strategic planning to change how people interact with the museum and bring enquiry based learning, more typical of natural history and science museums, to an art museum.

Apps and beacons are the solution to delivering more content than can be shown on walls. They provide the stories behind the art. While the initial aim was to engage more younger audiences, it turned out the apps are used by all ages. It’s interesting that people have “fallen in love” with the museum experience, not just the art itself.

One of the largest lessons learned was that “build it they will come” doesn’t apply. Rollout needed to be holistic. Frontline staff had to be trained and visitors reminded that the app is free and part of their admission fee. There’s also marketing at conferences, events, on business cards and obviously next to the artwork itself.

One of the incidental yet profound gains had been insights through data. The museum now knows how long people spend at the museum and at each exhibit. They know the most liked and most viewed art that helps work out what kinds of art are popular (or not!). This feeds into making the museum more popular through people returning, again something that can now be measured.

The museum has about 120 beacons and the functionality of the app changes depending on whether the user is in the museum or not. Visitors can access related videos, introductions to artists and other objects in the museum related to given art. The app also displays images, for example showing how the art has changed, through conservation, over time. There are also app scavenger hunts for kids.

The main initial challenges were physical : How to fix the beacons to to walls and blend them into the colour of the wall.

View the Video to discover more


BeaconZone’s very first beacon apps were related to tagging artwork at the Folkstone Triennial, Frieze London, Saatchi Gallery and the Fine Art Society . The Mr beacon video doesn’t mention any of the technical challenges of using beacons in visitor spaces. For example, there can be problems relying on connectivity indoors that requires solutions such as intelligent caching. Care also has to be taken to prevent excessive triggering, something that becomes more complex when adjacent beacons transmission overlap. If you need more help, consider a Feasibility Study.

Singapore Heritage Trail

There’s a new heritage trail of Little India in Singapore that uses Physical Web beacons to guide visitors through unique facts and stories, historical photographs, and crowd-sourced content.

The article on their web site is a great example how you can a) provide clear instructions on how to use the Physical Web and b) provide an incentive to start using. In the case of the trail there’s a contest. If you use your mobile device to access the Little India Physical Web Experience you can redeem a gift.

The Physical Web Offers Inexpensive Visitor Engagement

There’s a useful new article at Blupath by Christos Symeou on Omni-channel Physical Web: A New Paradigm for Visitor Engagement.

Christos has been looking into solutions for institutions that aren’t national museums and galleries and don’t have a huge budget:

“And for the vast majority of smaller institutions that I’ve been talking with, spending a ton of money to develop a fancy app that maybe 1% or 2% of their visitors will ever use is simply not an option.”

The ‘Omni-channel Physical Web’ uses existing digital resources and beacons to reduce the costs of digital engagement, maximise use while not hurting the aesthetics of visitor spaces.

Christos says:

“The time for a paradigm shift is now, having reached the point where both the technology is ready, as well as the ability to access it from nearly all visitors.”

Using Beacons For a Library Tour

There’s an interesting article at code4lib on Creation of a Library Tour Application for Mobile Equipment using iBeacon Technology by Virginia Tech. It describes a project where a QR code driven library tour was updated to use beacons.

Some insights include how attractive beacons can become ‘lost’, the problem of replacing batteries, limited battery life due to the iOS requirement for beacons to advertise every 100ms and challenges physically fixing beacons.

As mentioned in our article on Choosing an Advertising Interval, it’s possible to set the advertising interval to between 300ms and 600ms while maintaining a reasonable detection time. Also, had the library chosen Android tablets they could have used a much longer advertising interval. 100ms is an artificial thing set by Apple for very quick detection on iOS devices. On Android, the scanning is more controllable,you can scan for longer and hence have beacons that advertise less often and have much longer battery life.