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MLB demos interactive game experience using iBeacon

The MLB is testing a new bit of tech that could make bringing your phone to the game as important as remembering your tickets. 

Actually, with this updated version of MLB’s At Bat app, your phone will be your ticket. And thanks to Apple’s new iBeacon system, that’s not its only feature. (Image: MLB via Mashable)

You might have missed the iBeacon news in the slew of reporting on Apple’s redesigned iOS 7. As a refresher, it’s a system that uses cheap, low-powered transmitters – or beacons – to communicate with nearby phones. (Video: Apple)

It’s essentially Apple’s answer to Near Field Communication, which you’ve likely seen used in payment apps like Google Wallet. The MLB saw immediate use for the location-based tech inside its ballparks.

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 So the league placed beacons around the New York Mets’ Citi Field and had users give the early version a test-run. (Video: CNET)

 The app sends out bluetooth signals to find your location. When you pass a landmark, like the Met’s apple statute, for example, it sends you information on that spot. (Images: Wikimedia Commons)

 The app not only stores your ticket, but it also helps you find your seats. Or as CNET's Bridget Carey discovered –

(Image: MLB via Mashable)

“My ticket was just scanned, and oh, I just got a pop up for two dollars off a hotdog.”

The list of potential uses for Apple’s iBeacons is long, but the MLB has reportedly been thinking about in-park tech for a while now. It’s tried using NFC and QR codes unsuccessfully. An MLB developer tells Mashable –

“...GPS is notorious for not working indoors, especially when you are in a building made of steel.”

So Apple’s tech seems like the answer. Of course, the league still has a few things to work out before it hopes to launch the system in 2014. Mainly, the bluetooth beacons aren’t one-size-fits-all.

Outfitting an older park, like Fenway, with bluetooth transmitters is likely going to be a much different process than adding beacons into Minneapolis’ Target Field, which opened just a few years ago. (Images: Wikimedia Commons)

Sounds time-consuming, but the MLB’s SVP of Mobile Product Development tells TechCrunch taking the time to do it right is key.

“We’re baseball, we’re not a small startup. We want to be nimble and quick and take new opportunities, but we also don’t want to roll something out that’s going to confuse fans.”

For now, Bluetooth low energy technology will only work with iPhones 4S and above, but Android has promised to add LE to its upcoming 4.3 software update.

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