Called Zones, the company’s newest update to their indoor mapping platform — and indoor is the key word here — allows geo-fence style app push notifications to be scheduled, by drawing polygons on location maps. When customers with the accompanying app walk into one of those indoor areas represented by the polygon on the map…Bam! They get a push notification.
To be sure, it’s a real marketing opportunity and a concept underserved by the current, mostly GPS-based location awareness model for mobile devices.
There are several geo-fencing platforms out there — PlaceCast, Digby Localpoint, Wifarer and ShopKick all come to mind — so what is the big deal here? Meridian’s VP of Marketing Jeff Hardison, believes there are several differences in the Meridian approach.
First of all, this notification system will work even when the accompanying app is not open nor in active use — essentially working while the app is in background mode — without significant battery drain. Other geo-fence providers might be able to do this via GPS or cell tower triangulation, but not by WiFi sensing, which is how Meridian works. This means that once the WiFi network the location is using is recognized, that network can “wake up” the app and send push notifications when different Zones of the store are passed through.
Most importantly, per Meridian’s secret sauce and strategy, this works with Wi-Fi triangulation for indoor maps and can function at a sensitivity of about 10 feet. This gives the system an advantage in locations where GPS antennas often fail — like, say, in a casino under ground parking garage.
To recap how Meridian’s technology works, the company has built a CMS and rapid app building platform so that partnered companies can upload maps of their locations into the CMS.
Once their location maps are digitized and uploaded to the CMS tool, the geo-fences can be drawn on the location maps. The new or existing WiFi hotspots in the locations are then coupled with the map data.
Accompanying mobile apps — also built with this system — can access the map data in order to display accurate indoor maps, based on location. Now the push notifications have been added to the mix.
Software Development Kit
You may have uncovered what could be seen as the Achilles Heel in the strategy, in that a brand’s native app must be built with Meridian’s app rapid builder technology (another offering they have). That could seem like a limitation for brands that already have their own app, and don’t want to rebuild with Meridian’s proprietary app-building tool.
However, Jeff said the team is currently piloting an SDK approach for the Zones platform, so brands with existing apps can use the new push notification system with an existing app. This will be deployed in the coming months.
Meridian is currently wrapping up live pilots with The Bellagio in Las Vegas and also with Fernbank Museum. They’ve also received some recognition from Cisco as a best of breed provider of indoor mapping technology and Cisco has actually integrated some of Meridian’s technology into their own hardware platforms.