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by Michael Shapiro | November 13, 2014

This year's EIBTM Technology Watch Award went to The Live Group, a U.K.-based digital communications agency, for an app called Locator Function. The app is an indoor positioning system that runs on Bluetooth Low Energy — or what Apple calls "iBeacon." Because it runs on the Bluetooth protocol, beacon technology is compatible with most modern-day smartphones. The beacons themselves are inexpensive pieces of hardware that can be set up in strategic locations at a conference or trade show; even later-model iPhone and Android devices can serve as beacons. Most importantly, it can work accurately inside a convention center, as opposed to GPS.

So what can we do with this beacon-based technology? The Live Group's Locator Function is the best example we've seen yet of how the tech can be applied to meetings, according to the Tech Watch judging panel chair, Corbin Ball. Using the app, attendees can orient themselves in the venue, locate others and find specific destinations on an interactive floor plan. The app checks in attendees automatically when they arrive at the venue, and can send push notifications to specific delegate types; it captures the flow of attendee traffic as well. "It offers huge opportunities for profile raising and marketing to sponsors and exhibitors," says Ball.

The Live Group has been using the app at its own events, notes Ball. The award goes to emerging technology, but The Live Group does have a track record of success with Locator Function. "Other companies, such as DoubleDutch, are beginning to do this as well," says Ball. "Live Group's entry seemed to be the most complete."

I spoke with DoubleDutch CEO Lawrence Coburn when Apple first announced iBeacon, as DoubleDutch was one of the first app developers to embrace the technology publicly; some of what we discussed was being planned but had yet to be implemented. The possibilities of BLE beacon technology at events are quite exciting, and it's good to see that different suppliers are experimenting with it. I look forward to checking out The Live Group's implementation at EIBTM next week.