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U.S. Malls, Hospitals Use Senion's Beacon-based Solution

A California hospital and a mall have installed the Swedish company's StepInside technology to track and analyze traffic patterns at their facilities; the software also enables them to share location-based content with app users.
By Claire Swedberg

The technology not only enables a company to send location-based content to smartphone users via the app, but also collects analytical data regarding behavioral patterns, such as where crowds do and do not gather within a mall, and how long they congregate in specific areas. "It provides you with traffic patterns, where there are sections where people go, and where they don't," Andersson says. The data collected can then be used to determine what content will interest a particular individual, based on where he or she is going at any given time.

So far, the technology is in use at a hospital in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and at a mall in San Francisco. Both the hospital and mall worked with Phunware, an app developer in Austin, Texas, to create smartphone apps that leveraged the location data provided by the StepInside system. A Vancouver mall is currently in the process of deploying the technology as well, and another mall in New York plans to take the solution live later this summer. Senion's technology is also in use in London, parts of Australia, Israel, Egypt, Korea, Switzerland, and Stockholm, Sweden.

The StepInside app allows a company to send location-based content to smartphone users, while collecting analytical data regarding their behavioral patterns within a mall.
A patron typically first downloads the mall's app and enables his or her phone's Bluetooth functionality, allowing the phone to receive transmissions from the beacons. The phone calculates that person's position based on the beacon transmissions, as well as on motion sensors built into the device to pinpoint his or her location. The app, in turn, sends appropriate content to that user.

But it does more than that, Andersson explains. The system also receives sensor data from the phone, such as altimeter readings that indicate the specific floor on which the individual is located. For instance, Andersson says, the altimeter and beacon data enable the system to identify when an individual reaches a new floor while moving on an escalator. The combination of motion sensors in the device help the StepInside app to determine how the user is moving throughout the space, as well as how quickly. In that way, the system knows where that individual is headed, and thus what lies ahead for him or her. If, for example, an individual is nearing a shoe store and the StepInside software already knows that he or she was earlier shopping for shoes via browsing behavior on the app, the consumer can receive content at the appropriate time before reaching that store.

The system is also designed to be easy to install. As each beacon goes live, the installers can view its location in real time, so that multiple individuals could install the system within a space simultaneously, such as at a mall.

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