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Beacon Technology for the Middle Ages

Portugal's Óbidos Medieval Market featured approximately 50 Bluetooth Low Energy beacons to bring location-based content to visitors of its jousting tournaments, pubs, restaurants and services.
By Claire Swedberg

The beacons were deployed at locations of interest, including taverns, stores and the arenas in which programs were scheduled. The users who downloaded the app could receive push notifications based on their location at any given time, which would indicate where they were and what was scheduled for that site, such as jousting competitions. They could use the app to identify their location and seek out other specific areas, such as monuments, restaurants, hotel accommodations and public services. The app also offered a complete schedule for the market, as well as a map of the festival area, with icons denoting areas of interest.

Those with visual impairments could use a text-speech function in the app, Geraldes says. The app aggregated other information as well, he adds, such as weather, local news and social-media connections for those who want to post information about what they are doing at the event.

Pedro Miguel Geraldes
As SMIITY deployments continue to other locations, such as other cities in Europe, Geraldes says, "The app is intended for use at any of those places." Users simply launch the app, he adds, which "detects where you are located, and then provides information for that specific city."

About 50 beacons were deployed altogether—installed on walls, on the sides of buildings or in trees—40 of which were dedicated to permanent historic sites, such as the castle or walls. The other 10 were focused more on festival-based locations, such as pubs serving drinks for the event, and were taken down after the festival concluded.

Mobinteg uses its own BLE-enabled beacons, which are powered by batteries with a typical two-year life. The beacons can transmit at a distance of up to 50 meters (164 feet).

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