Since 1984 TED conferences have been blowing people’s minds around the world combining Tech, design and entertainment. That’s even longer than some of our developers have been around! At Tooploox we are all big fans of what TED conferences do so when our very own TEDx Wroclaw asked us to work together we put our blood, toil, sweat and tears into creating the best product we could, but at that point we had no idea what to do for them.
We knew that we would like to engage TEDx attendees in a crazy and unforgettable experience. All kinds of more or less crazy ideas popped up during the brainstorming phase. We thought of covering the capitol building map with fog that you have to disperse by exploring or engaging other users in activities which would make them group with other people. We even got close to creating a Monster fight inside the building! But time and resources were not on our side.
Tooploox is an Estimote Technology Partner and we have been working with Estimote beacons for quite some time now. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to experiment and put a great beacon experience together leveraging Estimote hardware. Our team finally came up with the idea of having a game in which attendees will gain points by exploring and performing some tasks in the building - like finding someone from the TEDx team or some real-life clues to an answer.
The app was build around the idea of giving the TEDx participants an entertaining way of discovering the Capitol complex, where the TEDx event was being held. All five floors were presented as an interactive map with stands users could visit during the breaks.To make the exploration more interesting we gave attendees the ability to collect points and compete with other users. Depending on the area in which you were currently in, a proper context information was presented.
We divided the spots into three categories:
- places, where a user could read about the history and curiosities of the building
- game tasks, where the attendee could solve a riddle or quiz
- sponsored stands - places prepared by TEDx sponsors with additional activities
All those points were spread across the entire building so visiting them all encouraged you to participate in cool activities, meeting new mates and experiencing the TEDx spirit. Wroclaw is known for having little dwarfs all around town, so of course, the star of the app needed to be a dwarf.
All these crazy ideas were possible thanks to the latest beacon technology that was easy and intuitive to use - the Estimote Beacons, which essentially are small wireless sensors powered by a coin battery which can be attached to almost any surface. It has motion & temperature sensors and emits radio signals that are received and interpreted by smartphones with Bluetooth Low Energy. Every beacon also has a manageable unique identifier consisting of
minor and Transmit Power, which can be set using Estimote’s application. Estimote offers three types of beacons: Stickers, Beacons and Location Beacons*.
How did we use them?
Since the TEDx Wroclaw “Break The Silence” app’s purpose was to provide different actions based on the beacon’s identifier, we decided to use only basic beacons functionality. We’ve separated beacons into three groups: places in Capitol, activities (partners’ stands) and questions. Each group had a different
major assigned to it. As
UUID we used default value same for all Estimote’s beacons.
Minors where numbers from 1-8. For the conference we’ve decided to set weak transmit power (ranging up to 3.5-15m depends on location) and short advertising intervals for better responsiveness. Then we went on a visit to The Capitol and placed all the beacons.
Very much like the opening of Disneyland in 1955 or Jurassic Park in 1993, things can go wrong and they did. A few of our ideas didn’t work the way we wanted them to, so we did what most people would. We PANICKED, but only for a minute. We went all hands on deck and got to fix whatever needed to be fixed. The best part of it was that 99% of errors were easy to fix, the beacon technology allowed us to correct mistakes on the fly and nobody noticed anything wrong. In fact, people loved the experience.
Out of 550 attendees, 200 decided to participate. Since we’ve never developed any sort of similar app before, we didn't know if anyone will be interested to make it through its whole content - and people actually did. It was fun to see them walking through the building and playing the game. The development process taught us how to work in tight time constraints and how to move fast with unusual ideas. It was a very interesting project and the know-how gained is something we can apply to several different fields.