Gimbal, Urban Airship provide tech for beacons on Broadway

Beacons are officially making their Broadway debut, with Gimbal providing its location intelligence platform in partnership with Broadway Voice and Urban Airship providing the mobile engagement platform. Called Playbill Passport, the app is now available in all Broadway theaters serviced by the 130-year-old Playbill brand magazine.

Here's how it works. A combination of Gimbal proximity location services and technology around the 41 Broadway theaters trigger Urban Airship's platform to deliver a variety of messaging experiences, including content personalized to the theater goer's interests and the show they're seeing. Inside the theater, users have the ability to scan their Playbill cover to access premium show content, including players, creators, photos and videos, and they can access the content at any time afterward, in addition to sharing on social media. Through the app, users also have access to show and theater information including run time, intermission, concession and other services available in the theater.

Playbill Passport also is designed to serve those who are planning their upcoming theater experiences by providing ticketing information, local travel and reservation services for nearby restaurants and attractions.

"Playbill Passport allows us to expand on the services we've been offering to Broadway audiences for over 130 years," says Philip Birsh, president and CEO of Playbill, in a press release. "Broadway just had its best-attended and highest-grossing year to date. We are in the midst of an exciting theatrical renaissance. Times Square is booming with new businesses, thousands of offerings and no real touchstone to maximize the experience. Theatregoers have come to rely on their Playbill and the information therein for over a century. Playbill Passport will expand on that service by giving audiences a way to learn and interact with the show they are seeing, attend other shows of interest, obtain practical theatre-related information, use discounts and take advantage of all Times Square has to offer."

Gimbal and Urban Airship announced in 2014 that they would be combining their expertise to deliver the right message at the right time, and apparently it's the right time for Playbill despite the angst that cell phones cause in theaters. Playbill Passport is currently available in the iTunes app store; an Android version will be released later this year.

Total Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon shipments are expected to exceed 400 million units in 2020, according to ABI Research. It helped last year when Google got into the act by releasing its Eddystone open format for developers to build apps for BLE beacons. Eddystone is an open format for BLE beacons and available for anyone to use, as it supports multiple frame types for different use cases.

Beacon company Estimote recently closed an $10.7 million in Series A funding round, TechCrunch reported, and just last week, InMarket said it provided 4,500 beacons to Rite Aid in what's being called the biggest retail beacon rollout of all time, surpassing Macy's.

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Related articles:
ABI: Beacons are not just for retail; asset tracking, industrial uses expected to rise
Gimbal wants to turn Bluetooth LE devices into beacons
Wi-Fi technology goes beacon-like with upcoming Wi-Fi Aware feature
Gimbal, Urban Airship combine beacon, messaging expertise

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