Apple's iBeacons hitting a Grand Slam in 2014 with Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball has already dabbled with Apple's iBeacons at Citi Field in New York, but now it looks set to roll out across the league. According to MacRumors, by Opening Day this season, 20 stadiums across the U.S. will have been fitted out:

The league is looking to have twenty parks outfitted with roughly 100 iBeacons each by Opening Day at the end of March. Boston, Milwaukee, San Diego, LA Dodgers, and San Francisco are among the teams that will have iBeacons installed.

The iBeacons work in tandem with the MLB At The Ballpark app for iPhone, which will also be primed and ready by opening day. Most interestingly, the same source goes on to explain that the use of iBeacons isn't revenue driven:

The main purpose of the iBeacons, according to our source, is to improve the fan experience -- not make money. The league is taking a "longer range view" and iBeacon isn't designed to drive revenue in a direct sense. "Time is more valuable than money", so MLB wants to make the fan experience "as efficient as possible". It is looking to eliminate time wasters like waiting in line at the will call window, and it doesn't want fans wandering the ballpark looking for their seats.

iBeacons are a perfect fit for this kind of venue. NFC wouldn't work – even if the iPhone had it – because of the proximity required to the sensor, while GPS just doesn't work that great indoors. With a range of up to 50 feet and using Bluetooth Low Energy, iBeacons is a definite winner for a busy ball park for the type of interaction laid out here.

So, given all this, do you think iBeacons can genuinely enhance your experience at the ball game this season? Perhaps more so if you're a visiting fan? Sound off in the comments below!

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Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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Reader comments

Apple's iBeacons hitting a Grand Slam in 2014 with Major League Baseball

12 Comments

This sounds really great. I can actually think of how this type of tech could benefit many, if not all sporting venues and events.

"So, given all this, do you think iBeacons can genuinely enhance your experience at the ball game this season? Perhaps more so if you're a visiting fan?"

I could answer the question if any of the stories about this spelled out just exactly what the iBeacons will do for fans.

Go wild. It's not here yet so no-one can say for sure. But a Bluetooth beacon filled ball park, an official app from MLB bringing you potentially deals, directions to your seat, delivering your ticket to your phone when you get to the stadium...do you think the technology could help improve some of the crappier things about being at a game?

iBeacon locates you, invites you to prepare a text message to your buddies which they will post on the jumbotron the same time they put up a live video feed of you in 3, 2, 1. . .

I love this! just one problem....

It would be better if I could actually afford tickets to a MLB game!!! (Fenway Park in particular...)

The current MLB At the Park app has seating layouts and where concessions are as well as rest rooms. That said, many stadiums have have exhibits, statues, and such scattered around the park. Many of these have only the barest explanation of their importance. The iBeacons could be used to give further details on the exhibits as well as give heads up on specials or menus at concession stands/restaurants within the park as you get closer to the specific sites.

I guess I'm old school, but when I go to watch the Mets, I actually go to watch the Mets - not play with my phone. (Now, yes, one could successfully argue that my phone would offer more satisfaction than the Mets, but I'm there because I love watching a baseball game.)

I agree the game is why you are there but the iBeacons if done right could add to that experience. For example as you get close to a team store it could send you the inventory and prices so you would know if they have what you want. I was at a Braves game last year and wanted to find a team logo on an iPhone case. I waited in line at the main gift shop just to get inside the store and when I did finally get in, they didn't have what I was looking for. The iBeacons could have saved me that wait.

Why is NFC even mentioned in the same breath as iBeacons? They are completely different technologies. NFC is made for high security applications (Metro passes, CC transactions, etc). NFC can also be used for info apps (URLs, etc), but it is a secondary to the work on the security aspects. iBeacons are designed for broadcast applications. Most along the lines of WiFi, but without the connect and passphrase stuff. I suppose you could use Bluetooth and iBeacons for paying for stuff, but why use a broadcast technology?