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Aristotle App BeaconSage Wins International Award

3 min read

This month, Little Rock web developer Aristotle announced that its new product, BeaconSage, had attracted worldwide attention by winning an Umbraco Award for Best Technical Solution at Codegarden, an international conference for developers held in June in Odense, Denmark.

Aristotle says it is the first U.S. company to receive an award at the event, which has been held annually since 2005.

BeaconSage, the Aristotle Labs team’s solution that beat out 88 entries, is a management platform for Bluetooth beacons. It is an app that can be downloaded for free on Android and Apple smartphones.

The way this “internet of things” technology works is that a Bluetooth device called a beacon, placed on any surface inside or out, sends out a signal with a link to a website every second to people’s smartphones, according to Aristotle Labs Director Matt Shull.

The beacons’ range is 300 feet, and they come in several sizes, with battery lives of two to 14 years, he said.

Beacon technology works a lot like a quick response (QR) code, but without the need for users to scan with their phone that barcode-like square.

What BeaconSage does is allow users to see on their smartphones where nearby beacons are and to click on them, loading a website with information for them to view. It also offers lock-screen notifications that alert users about nearby beacons, Shull said.

Companies access BeaconSage in a different way, he explained, to manage the beacons they’ve placed. Shull said it’s not a free service for them; the cost is $25 a month for five connected web pages and about $30 per beacon. A company could get started for as little as $55.

“So you’re looking at a small investment that could have huge gains,” Shull said. “I think the key in all of this is driving that user engagement and being able to provide stores, big and small, or individuals or anybody — Realtors, retailers — with the ability to interact with their users.”

Aristotle was represented at Codegarden for the first time this year because conference organizers saw Shull give a talk about site speed optimization at another event and invited him to speak on the same topic in Denmark.

Shull also led the firm into this new venture. He said a talk given by technology giant Google’s Scott Jenson piqued his interest in beacons.

Shull’s team — formed in May 2015 — began working on practical applications and BeaconSage was birthed.

Aristotle’s goal is to mainstream this technology, Shull said.

He said the BeaconSage app could do that by making it easier for people to use beacons. For emphasis, Shull used an example. He said that before, users would have had to download the 20 apps for 20 stores at a mall. Now, they can download BeaconSage and interact with each store that has a beacon using Aristotle’s all-in-one platform.

Shull also said the firm is working with Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs and the Little Rock Zoo to install beacons at exhibits so that visitors can pull up additional information about the animals they’re seeing.

His team is in discussion with other companies as well and working on new ways for its clients to engage their customers.

Aristotle Labs plans to add real-time polling and “scratch-off” games to its BeaconSage app. The scratch-off users can win prizes, such as a percentage-off deal. Companies managing the beacons will be able to set the probabilities, and users will have a section in the app where they can store their prizes or rewards, Shull said.

He also said his team is speaking with a grocery store chain in Texas about using BeaconSage so that its customers can collect coupons and add them to a list on their phones while shopping. The solution is being tested at three stores in September, Shull said, and will be used at 2,200 stores if all goes well.

Shull added that his team, which has developed two other products in just over a year, draws on the firm’s greatest strength: its 21-year history of creating quality user experiences and website designs.

“I think having that experience, but also having that startup mentality in Aristotle Labs, is what allows us to be very nimble, to pivot when we need to,” adding that technology “changes at the drop of a hat.”

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