Indoor Tracking with Ultra-thin Sensor Beacons Promises to Revolutionize Event Management, While Visitors Enjoy an Enhanced Experience

The Microsoft Japan event “FEST2015,” held on September 3, 2015 at the Prince Park Tower Tokyo in Minato City, featured exhibits of over 50 partners. Fujitsu took the opportunity to showcase a selection of the latest IoT devices and demonstrate the “Next-Generation Event Management Solution” that features lightweight ultra-thin sensor beacons. Read on to hear more about the event.

Real-time Display of Most Popular Exhibits and Visitor Movement within the Event Space

FEST2015 is a major annual event hosted by Microsoft Japan. The 2015 theme was “Revolution and Co-creating for the Future.” The event was a resounding success. Visitors were able to inspect and in many cases experience a wide variety of new products and solutions in fields ranging from business to technology.

At the entrance, each visitor was presented with a venue guide and a light-blue card in a holder about the size of your hand. The blue card was a compact radio transmitter known as a sensor beacon. Sensor beacons are a key element of the IoT (Internet of Things) where a myriad of everyday objects are equipped with transmission functionality and connected via the Internet. FEST2015 attendees wore the blue sensor beacons on a lanyard together with a name tag.

Compact sensor beacon

A venue map was displayed on monitors inside the venue and on a large screen behind the stage. The map showed the movement of visitors and the most popular exhibits, including a popularity ranking that was updated in real time, and an overall picture of traffic flows and congestion hotspots. Visitors were encouraged to vote for exhibits that they particularly liked simply by flipping over the sensor beacon holder, with the results updated instantaneously on the venue map. Each vote was tallied immediately in the popularity ranking for exhibits in that area.

The sensor beacons, developed by Fujitsu Advanced Engineering together with Fujitsu group company FDK, were part of a trial of the Next-Generation Event Management Solution designed for exhibitions and trade shows.

Traffic flows in the venue were displayed in real time on three large screens

About the Next-Generation Event Management Solution

The Fujitsu-made sensor beacons transmit a beacon ID and are able to detect specific physical actions by the wearer. Sensor beacon signals are picked up by 25 gateways dotted around the venue and stored together with location information from the gateway ID in a cloud-based platform called Cloud A5 for Microsoft Azure. Location data for all visitors is analyzed and integrated with applications to track traffic flow throughout the venue space and monitor popularity rankings for individual exhibits. Information is updated in real time on dashboard screens in the venue.

Developing Tailored Strategies at Exhibits

The Next-Generation Event Management Solution has benefits for three key stakeholder groups. Firstly, it provides visitors to an event with an IoT service that involves them directly, where they can register their interest in or appreciation of an exhibit via a simple movement with the name tag. The system is easy to use, and there is no need to install a dedicated smartphone app. For event managers, it provides a real-time display of the popularity of individual exhibits as well as indicating potential congestion hotspots, for better crowd control. This is a significant improvement on conventional barcode and RFID systems. Data on traffic flows and the popularity of exhibits also provide useful information for marketing purposes. And finally, the solution provides exhibitors with real-time updates of attendance numbers and traffic flows within the venue, allowing for more tailored strategies at exhibit booths.

Enormous Potential in a Range of Fields

In recent years we have witnessed explosive growth in smart devices along with significant advances in positioning technologies, particularly GPS,*1 WiFi*2 and Bluetooth LE.*3 This combination holds significant potential for measurement technologies in a range of fields, including indoor location tracking, car navigation and o2o (online-to-online) services. It has generated significant interest with respect to potential benefits in terms of enhanced customer experience and marketing opportunities.

The Next-Generation Event Management Solution is slated for launch in January 2016, and will provide support for a range of environments such as offices, commercial facilities, factories, train stations and airports as well as exhibition venues.

*1 GPS = global positioning system
*2 WiFi = Wireless Fidelity, a wireless LAN standard
*3 Bluetooth LE = Bluetooth Low Energy, a version of Bluetooth (a short-range wireless transmission technology) with very low power consumption