News Column

Shufdy Technology will bring history to your smartphone ; EXPLAINING THE TECHNOLOGY

July 8, 2014

Michael Ribbeck; Michael Ribbeck Chief reporter

THE latest cutting-edge technology is being used to bring Bristol's rich historical heritage and history back to life for visitors and residents alike. Around 200 devices known as iBeacons are being placed at some of the most popular visitor sites across the city.

The devices can transmit detailed information and images to smartphones. The idea is that visitors will be able to download information about Bristol's most important and famous structures as they travel around the city. The work on installing the iBeacons started at the beginning of the month and is being carried out by digital developer Shufdy and Destination Bristol.

The sites include Brunel's ss Great Britain, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and St Mary Redcliffe church.

The devices need very little power and can be used both inside buildings and in the open air. The system works along similar lines to GPS and anyone wanting to load them will need to download the Shufdy app from the iTunes store.

The app automatically recognises when it is close to one of the beacons and will allow the user to download the information relevant to the iBeacon.

There will also be direct links to any websites connected to the various landmarks and buildings. The device is designed to work with Apple devices but work is under way to produce an app for all smartphones.

As the system develops more locations will be added along with extra information.

Simon Richardson, managing director of Shufdy said: "iBeacons are new to the UK and are currently only being used in trials within retail premises as well as individual visitor locations. "We are very excited to be bringing this technology to a large scale tourism based project, encompassing some of the iconic visitor locations in Bristol.

"Tourism is a natural fit for iBeacons and we see opportunities in proximity based guided tours and a reduction in printed brochures and guides."

Kelly Ballard, head of marketing for Destination Bristol, said: "We are delighted that Bristol is the first city to trial this new technology for tourism purposes.

"It has the potential to create an innovative visitor experience and we're always looking at ways to help people have the best time in Bristol."

Shufdy will be experimenting with a handful of flag-ship sites that will be complimented by the large scale coverage in certain areas.

These sites will feature multiple iBeacons and include Brunel's SS Great Britain, Clifton Suspension Bridge, St Mary Redcliffe, The City Museum and Art Gallery, M-Shed and even the Council Offices at City Hall.

? iBeacons are small, lightweight devices which broadcast their unique identifiers within a radius of approximately 50 metres.

iBeacons cannot send information such as adverts to devices.

The app has to recognise the iBeacon which it has found and then it will present the relevant information.

As well as having an obvious advantage in being able to function indoors, they can also be used to recognise moving objects -very different from GPS which works on fixed points.

The iBeacon/ Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology has been around for a while, but Apple announced the incorporation of the system in the latest version of its operating system, iOS7, towards the end of 2013. The system is also available in the latest Android operating system, Android 4.3.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: Bristol Evening Post (England)

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