Atlanta-based Visix has added an interesting new element to its product offer aimed at corporate facilities and campuses – a brand-able wayfinding app for smartphones that can be tied to bluetooth low energy beacons.
The app can be used as an extension of traditional kiosk-based wayfinding or as a stand-alone solution.
“We’ve had great success providing interactive wayfinding for touchscreen kiosks. But, what happens when someone doesn’t know how to find your kiosk, or after they walk away from the screen?” says Jill Perardi, Creative Services Manager for Visix, in a news release. “We saw a need to expand audience coverage and provide a fun, mobile-friendly option for visitors. This app is a great way to expand both wayfinding and messaging services for an improved guest experience at colleges, corporate campuses and healthcare facilities.”
Each app is custom-branded and uses photography from the client’s facility. The app communicates with proximity beacons that are placed at directional milestones throughout a building. As visitors walk through, beacons report their arrival at key areas, and the app provides turn-by-turn directions paired with photos from the facility.
The battery-powered beacons will work with both iOS and Android devices, and also uses geo-fencing. Using GPS, the app knows when the company’s geofenced area is penetrated, and it then sends a push notification to that person’s phone. This allows clients to give visitors directions from the parking lot to any space on a corporate campus.
Clients can also deliver directories, announcements and other content within the mobile app. This allows the app to be paired with other digital signage strategies for improved audience engagement.
I like this, but it’s important to understand none of this works unless the person with the smartphone has downloaded and installed that app, and has Bluetooth on. The GPS is the least likely element to be turned on because it’s one of those things that runs down a phone battery.
So none of this just magically happens, and a big challenge for anyone with an app – campus, retail or otherwise – is getting people to download and use it.
That said, I could see app downloads being encouraged in meeting invitation emails, or as a standard part of sales and service emails, as in: “Coming To Our Atlanta Campus? Download our app so you can easily find your way to the right building!”
Short URLs or QR codes could be used on signs at visitor parking areas, as well. And it’s a good reason to have digital signs in gateway and decision areas running visitor messages that suggest they’ll find their way around easily if they grab this app.
I spent a few weeks a couple years ago working in an office campus in Johannesburg that was vast, multi-levelled and pretty much devoid of directional help. I would have worn out an app that told me where the hell the Mpumalanga meeting room was, and how to get there.
Visix is pretty focused on corporate and campus facilities, and already does meeting room signs, so this seems a nice add-on.
I’m guessing some other signage company also does this sort of thing, but I’m just not aware of it.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.