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Buildings 'Talk' to Tourists in Portugal and Italy via BLE Technology

The SMIITY app, from Mobinteg, enables villages and cities to provide tourists with content regarding historical structures, businesses and events in their community, based on an app user's location.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 06, 2017

Mobile software and app services company Mobinteg has deployed a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon-based solution within several cities and villages throughout Portugal and Italy, in order to connect app users with information about city buildings, businesses and historical monuments. The system, known as SMIITY (SMart Interactive cITY), connects app-using tourists with local history, events and attractions, as well as trail information in a mountainous hiking area. The company has also developed a device called the SMIITY Box, which senses air quality (such as the presence of carbon monoxide) and noise levels, and shares that data via a BLE or Wi-Fi connection.

Mobinteg was launched in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2012 as a mobile development services company, says founder Fernando Pinto. During the past few years, the firm has been looking into new technologies that would automatically put information about physical surroundings into the hands of smartphone users. "We think the smartphone serves as an extension of the human body," he says, and the company has thus been developing solutions for wearable devices to track the activities of athletes, as well as devices to monitor falls or activities of senior citizens with health issues.

Mobinteg's Fernando Pinto
Last year, Mobinteg began deploying its SMIITY solution for city governments. The first installation was in Óbidos, Portugal, a town featuring such historic sites as a town gate and castle, as well as specialty tourist-oriented stores and restaurants. The company has installed approximately 150 beacons around the community to date.

"This small village has a lot of stories to tell," Pinto says, and the SMIITY system is designed to help buildings and businesses tell that story according to a particular app user's interests. First, a visitor or resident downloads the app at either the Google Play or iTunes websites. If a person so chooses, he or she can link a social-network account, such as Facebook, to the app so that the SMIITY content-management software can then use that individual's interests to filter content specifically of his or her preferences. Users can also input their own interests.

The SMIITY app
As the individual moves around the city, beacons deployed on building walls, doorways and other structures transmit their ID numbers. The user's phone captures that information and accesses the relevant data for each location. This means that a person, upon passing an historic church, for instance, can view details about that building and its history. The individual can also receive a notification if he or she is interested in buying pastries and nears a business selling them.

Additionally, the app can provide general content, such as events taking place within the town and a map to reach the location of a selected event. Users can select their language of choice to receive that content.

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