Having a small presence at an international showcasing of technological innovation, like Austin's South by Southwest, is a privilege for any young tech company. Designing the official application for the event, with direct financial investment from organizers themselves, puts Vancouver-based Eventbase at an entirely new level.
Founded one year before the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games in order to deliver the event's official application, Eventbase has been behind the official app of every Olympic games since, not to mention some of the world's largest gatherings, including music festival like Lollapalooza, film festivals like the Sundance Film Festival and a variety conferences in the medical and technology industries.
"South by Southwest is a special one for us for a number of reasons," said Ben West, a co-founder of Eventbase, adding that the company has been in charge of producing the event's official app since 2011, after proving themselves at the Vancouver games. "We've worked quite closely with them for a number of years and we ended up getting a little closer to them last year when they invested US $2 million into our company to help us develop some of the technology that they really see changing the event space for them."
With that investment Eventbase is filling this year's SXSW application with a myriad of new and innovative features.
Deploying over 1,000 iBeacons throughout the SXSW event space — Apple Inc's low cost, low powered Bluetooth-based indoor positioning transmitters — this years app will allow attendees to have a more personalized experience, with or without GPS and internet connection.
"We can understand where you are in the venue by using this mesh network of iBeacons to allow interaction with sessions in ways that weren't previously possible," said West. "The reason we go to events is to connect with likeminded individuals, whether through new connections, new friendships or new business partnerships, but at the size of the events we tend to service it's hard to find the right person."
This 2015 SXSW application will play matchmaker for users, allowing them to connect with likeminded individuals within the massive, anonymous crowds.
"You can see who in that room right now knows about mobile security, or user experience design, and then by messaging them you can meet up with them and start a conversation," said West. "We want to facilitate that human connection that is very difficult when there's an abundance of possibilities in one room."
Other features enabled by iBeacon technology include 3d mapping of event venue spaces, as well as room specific content like live polling.
"I think we've brought a distinctly Canadian approach to what we build," said West. "We're now in a position where we've done three Olympic games, we're doing some of the most significant events in the world, and we're excited to be able to do that from Canada and export this technology around the globe."