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Cardiff Blues Rugby Team Welcomes Beacon Technology

GCell solar-powered beacons greet users of the Cardiff Blues Match Day app, and may enable wayfinding, deliver store discounts and provide other location-based services in the future.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 07, 2016

The Cardiff Blues rugby team is undertaking an experiment in engagement with its own fans at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, in Wales. This season, the team will send a greeting to users of the Cardiff Blues Match Day smartphone app as they enter the park, courtesy of solar-powered beacons provided by GCell. The beacons transmit their ID numbers to participants' phones, prompting the app to display content specific to a user's particular location. The system is expected to expand from a simple greeting at the gate to a variety of other use cases, either later this season or in the coming years.

The Cardiff Blues Match Day app, developed by CloseComms using its VenueNow solution, already provides fans with content regarding the team and its players.

A GCell G100 beacon, shown here installed in one of the shops at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, could be used to deliver promotional offers to users of the Cardiff Blues Match Day app.
By providing location-based content, Rhys Williams, the Cardiff Blues' commercial director, says he hopes to experiment with different kinds of additional app-driven information that fans might find useful, such as retail discounts or assistance with finding a bar to purchase beer. The data could also provide Williams with analytics—indicating, for instance, how often fans attend games, based on the number of times that the app on their phones detected one of the park's beacons.

The Cardiff Blues' Rhys Williams
The Cardiff Blues first tested the GCell beacons during this past spring at the park's entrance, as well as throughout the rest of the stadium, and sent greetings to arriving app users. The same functionality will be used this season, Williams says, beginning with a game on Oct. 1 against Leinster Rugby, and will continue to be used until Christmastime, when the team will consider the next phase.

First, users must download the Cardiff Blues Match Day app, via the Google Play or iTunes website. As a user's smartphone (with the Bluetooth functionality activated) comes within range of the beacon, he or she will receive a message via the phone's app, welcoming that guest to the park. The location-based messages are delivered by GCell's content-management software, says Barry Jenkins, GCell's marketing manager.

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