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FileMaker 15: Real World Scenario with iBeacons

Now that FileMaker can detect iBeacons that are in range, FileMaker apps have a new way to provide information to users. In this video, Martha Zink shares a demo file created by Bill Heizer, showing how FileMaker Go can use iBeacons to provide valuable information to attendees of a boat show, giving them live information about nearby vendors.

Video Transcript:

Hi, my name is Martha Zink and I’m with Soliant Consulting.

This is another video on iBeacons in FileMaker15. In this video, we’re looking at a use case of the technology.

A huge thanks to my team member, Bill Heizer. He’s the one who put this file together. I love this demo. I think it really drives the point home on how we can use this technology. And I think we’re going to see a lot of the use cases pop up now that FileMaker 15 is out.

Assume you’re at a boat show. You could be at any other kind of event where we’re dealing with vendors where there is a conference hall of some sort or a vendor hall. Imagine opening up a FileMaker app and being able to get information based on where you are.

So, let’s go ahead and click on this button in the center. What we’re looking at here is a list of vendors in order, based on how close they are to me. On the right-hand side, we’ve got a lot of FileMaker stuff. We may or may not show this to our users. A lot of this we probably wouldn’t. So, we’ve got an idea of how far we think that iBeacon is or in concept, how far that vendor is. The major is what is defining who the vendor is and that’s all being driven by FileMaker. Then, the strength of the signal is measured in decibels below the major.

There is some other cool stuff. Bill has given us a nice scale to give us an idea of how far we are from that iBeacon or that vendor. What’s great about this is that the technology is iBeacon, but really, the iBeacon just defines something else. In this case, it defines a vendor. And if we were talking about a larger venue or something with a lot more stuff and products in it, an iBeacon could even be a product. It really just depends on what we’re trying to encompass and what we’re trying to define. But, what I love about it is the amount of flexibility that we have here.

When I clicked on the center button, it ran a script that basically sent FileMaker some iBeacon information. Let me open up the demo button and show you what that looks like. We’ve got a long list of different things. The first three things in each of these rows have to do with the ID of the iBeacon as well as the major and minor value. And then the other three numbers that come after that have to do with the distance and the accuracy as well as the strength of the signal in decibels.

FileMaker is taking this list, it’s parsing out the important things, which in this case would be the major number (1, 2, 3, and so on), and it’s basically giving us an idea of how far we are from those. This gives us the ability to sort this data in a way that is pertinent to where we are.

I can’t demo this very well sitting here at my desk, but I will pretend that I have now moved across the hall. If I click on the demo, let’s pretend that I have moved over to location 2. You’ll see that if I had, from a real-world perspective, I might have a refresh button like I did in my other demo there. But the idea would be that when I refreshed this screen, it now knows where I am because I’ve moved locations. It’s gone out and checked from iBeacons in range and it’s giving me new values. I don’t think I was looking at this too closely here at the data, but these numbers would have been very different based on where we were before.

From the iBeacon perspective, that’s really as far as it goes. It tells us some information about the iBeacons around us, and now we’re fully dependent on FileMaker to interpret that for us.

Let’s go back to location 1. Let’s pretend that I walked back toward Yamaha. If I click on “Yamaha,” Bill I can see the products Yamaha has. Now, some of these might be here at the boat show, some of them might not be. That’s dependent on what we decide to store in FileMaker and how we choose to communicate that. But now I can scroll through the app and see a bunch of data. This is all FileMaker does all day, every day. And now we’re just dependent on how much we want to put in FileMaker. That said, FileMaker Go (FileMaker on iOS) really has a lot of functionality that’s great for this kind of event.

Now, I can click on one of these boats. I’ll click on this E-Series here. It’s got a nice description displayed, so I know the cost. I can scroll through here and see what other images exist. Then, we have the ability to take advantage of all of FileMaker. We could favorite things, we could email things, and we could create a PDF and send that off to someone who might be interested in something. We also have this little video button, so let me demo that. I’m going to click on the video icon. And now we’re able to watch a video about this product right on the iPhone.

This may not feel any different than a normal FileMaker Go app or something that we would build on even a desktop or a website. But, the big perk here is that we got here based on our location. I looked at that boat, I walked down that path of looking at that boat because Yamaha was the closest vendor to me. I may have walked over to them and really liked them and really liked their boats and thought “let me get some more information about it.”

Now, the extra little thing that Bill built in here that I really liked is this map view. I’m going to click on “Map.” Now we see is a drawing of where we are. If you look carefully, all of those icons have a different color to them. It’s either green, yellow, or red depending on how close I am. And again, that’s being defined very similarly to the list view. The list view was showing us something based on a scale versus the map view is giving us a hot vs. cold feeling almost.

In this case, in this demo file, the locations were all hard coded. There are ways to make this more dynamic and more flexible, but the reality is that when it comes to something like a conference of a boat show, things are pretty static for every show or for every conference. It’s going to be very different depending on the location. So, I think this is a perfectly acceptable way of handling this. And Bill has thought this out.

It’s not just that we can look at the map and hope for more information. If I’m standing by Yamaha, which is the closest one I’m standing by, I might be curious what MasterCraft has. In the list view, it might not have caught my attention to scroll down that far, or even SeaDoo or some of these others. But I can click right on the any of these on the map view and I’ll be taken to the details for that vendor.

I’m taking advantage of iBeacons in that I can depend on my location to give me the location that I want. But, then I get to leverage FileMaker to give me more information when I don’t want to be limited by location. Or, more so, it lets me get started by knowing where my location is but then it lets me walk down a path of knowing more about the vendor, knowing more about their products without potentially having to talk to anybody just at that moment. I might be able to go up to someone at Yamaha ask about a specific boat, show someone my iPhone and say, “Hey, I was checking this one out, what are your thoughts?” The conversation can become really valuable there.

I’m looking forward to seeing this technology be applied for FileMaker apps. I think it’s cool technology. It’s fun to get these things set up and test them out. I think that it’s going to add a lot of value for users. Now we get a lot of information right in the palm of our hand and we get to search for data when we need to. But, it’s very dependent on where we are and it makes technology that much smarter for us.

Again, a huge thanks to Bill Heizer for putting this together. Make sure to subscribe to Soliant TV. And, thank you for watching.

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