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Indoor Navigation-Based Consumer Engagement Programme for Malls and Other Venues

Technology Overview

Human beings are naturally adept at engaging in games and competitions. Winning a contest, solving a riddle or simply testing one's skills can be a powerful motivator for many people. This natural tendency can be leveraged through "gamification", a technique that engages people in a quest whose ultimate goal is educating participants while entertaining them. Gamification can be useful in educational settings, such as museums and schools, business settings, like trade shows, team-building events, and employee motivation, and public/private settings such as shopping malls and urban districts.

Mobile apps are an ideal tool to implement deeply engaging experiences. A well-designed app-based game that combines visual elements, text, music, sounds and computation - as required for processing images, internal sensors' signals, mathematical computations and location - is an ideal vehicle for gamification. Here is where indoor location plays a key role.

Imagine, for instance, a high-tech Treasure Hunt in which location-based clues are given in sequence, guiding users on a quest of observation, discovery and learning. Depending on game design, the mobile app will need to know its location to provide the right clues at each stage in the game.  Step-by-step guidance between points of interest ties everything together.

A variety of indoor location technologies are available for implementation.

Technology Features & Specifications

The best fit technology for this application may take advantage of WiFi and possibly also Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) ambient signals patterns.

In environments where the number of Wi-Fi and BLE ambient signals is high, and their sources are relatively static, using ambient signal patterns provides the least expensive and much more accurate solution than competing technologies. It requires performing a "site survey" of the space, to collect a database of ambient signals present in different areas of the target venue. System clients (mobile apps) may then take "snapshots" of ambient signals in their surroundings, and determine their locations by interpolation against the venue's database. Average accuracy may be as high as 1 meter.

An alternative arriving shortly is visual positioning, which relies on image processing of physical features in the environment to enable devices to compute their current position. This technology can deliver higher positioning accuracy than ambient signal patterns, and is not sensitive to environments where ambient signals change a lot. Average accuracy may be a few inches.

Note that indoor location technologies open the door to applications in visitor behavior analysis. Mobile apps can periodically report their location to servers, enabling tracking their whereabouts over time. This can be the raw data for visitor behavior analytics, that can be easily turned into graphical information, such as charts and heatmaps, along with business intelligence reports. 

In addition, note that we refer to these technologies as delivering "indoor location", though they can certainly be used in outdoor areas such as parks, gardens and open-air venues.

Potential Applications

For shopping mall operators, gamification that leverages indoor location technology can be a powerful tool to engage visitors in a creative way. Gamification can enable operators to direct visitors to specific places in their venues, uncover faraway corners and even other venues under the guise of entertainment.

Visitors may therefore be incented in creative ways to visit sections of a mall they would not normally visit, and even visit different venues altogether, moving beyond simplistic proximity-based approaches. Well-designed games can engage the whole family, providing entertainment for children and teenagers who accompany and influence the adults, thereby delivering an exciting experience for the whole family.

Gamification is also used in museums to increase visitors' engagement with the fine points of some exhibits, emphasizing discovery, comparisons, and ultimately learning with a deeper level of attention than simply observing and reading exhibit notes.

Event marketers at trade shows and corporate events also take advantage of the higher level of involvement generated by gamification, to emphasize learning by customers and employees of product features, differentiators and proprietary approaches.

Market Trends and Opportunities

According to research published by MarketsandMarkets, global indoor location was estimated as a USD $935.05 million market in 2014 and is expected to grow to USD $4.4 billion by 2019, representing an estimated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 36.5% from 2014 to 2019.

Retail continues to be the largest market segment for indoor location. North America is expected to be the biggest market in terms of revenue, while Asia Pacific is expected to experience increased market growth during the same time frame.

Specifically about gamification, MarketsandMarkets estimates the global gamification market to grow from USD 1.65 billion in 2015 to USD 11.10 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 46.3%. The base year considered for the study is 2014 and the forecast period is 2015-2020.

For additional information, see Top Marketing Trends for 2014 II.

Customer Benefits

Gamification is the application of human psychology, digital design, and often social media to address needs in business and marketing. Gamification techniques leverage people’s natural desire for competition, achievement, self-expression and status to focus their attention and increase engagement. It applies game thinking to real-world problem-solving in areas such as improving customer engagement, increasing employee productivity and facilitating learning.

Indoor location technologies add an important dimension to gamification by providing the "geography" component: where is the user? where is the target? what is nearby? how to direct users to the next stage? what do players actually do? where do they struggle? where do they spend most of their time? how does the discovery process move along?

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