Tennessee Aquarium is using Beacon technology to turn their visitors into animal-trackers.
The system is already used by scientists to tag and track both wild animal populations and also those that have been released from captivity as part of a conservation programme. Tiny microscopic tags are attached to the creatures so researchers can monitor their health and movements.
The new aquarium app taps into the same tagging system, notifying visitors via their mobile phone when they are close to a tagged animal.
Thaddeus Taylor, one of the Aquarium’s senior educators, explains: “We’re using Beacon technology to put our guests in a more active role during their time with us. I’m excited about adding another layer to our experience, one with a game-play feel that increases learning about our animals because it’s so much fun.”
Beacons allow mobile apps to understand their position with extreme accuracy.The information can then be transmitted via Bluetooth. Guests are invited to opt into the programme by downloading the free Tennessee Aquarium app. Once device settings allow Bluetooth connections and push notifications, they’re ready to begin tracking. “It’s exciting to be on the forefront of this new technology, creating some engaging content for our guests, ” said Taylor.
Characters such as herpetologist, Ana Conda, entomologist, Olive Buggs and ichthyologist, Finn Skales, task children and their families to help them find specific creatures.
Justin Junda, Jason Provonsha and Peter Van de Put, co-founders of CloudBeacon, the company who have developed the content management system behind the High-Tec Animal Tracker Programme, say they are ready to create many more engaging experiences like the one they are launching with the Aquarium.
“We have some pretty lofty goals about how to bring beacons to this city and many others, ” reports Junda. “Chattanooga is developing quite a reputation as a technology hub and we are glad to be a part of that growing reputation. The Aquarium project is a great test case as we continue to expand.”
The Aquarium now plans to bring out new beacon programmes throughout the year. “I hope this alters the way our guests look at animals, ” comments Taylor. “So that even after they leave the Aquarium, there is a long-reaching effect of creating a desire to closely observe the wildlife around us rather than simply noticing the animals.”