June 26, 2017

Beacon Developer NetObjex Enters Library Market with SmartLibrary

NetObjex beaconNewport Beach, CA-based NetObjex, developer of turnkey “Internet of Things” (IoT) device management solutions for commercial enterprises, recently announced the launch of SmartLibrary, a system that enables libraries to transmit targeted, location-relevant messages to their patrons’ smartphones and mobile devices. IoT is a new area of computing and includes smart devices such as beacons and sensors that enable machine to machine communications. The company joins library app developers Capira Technologies and BluuBeam, which each separately announced the launch of beacon services in the fall of 2014.

Beacons are small, coin cell battery–powered wireless devices that transmit Bluetooth signals within an adjustable range of one foot to 250 feet. For example, a beacon placed in a library’s computer area could be programmed to send a schedule of upcoming computer courses only to patrons who approach or enter the area. A separate beacon might be deployed in a local café or commuter rail station to transmit more general messages about the library and upcoming events. Beacon messages also facilitate sharing. An individual can easily forward a message about an upcoming event to a friend who might be interested, or post the event on social media platforms if he or she plans to attend.

In a message sent to LJ, NetObjex officials added that the system works with beacons/sensors from any vendor, and can also be used for asset tracking, or to generate “heat maps” of patron traffic and activity within a library building by gathering data on the number of messages that were sent by each of their beacons during a specific time frame.

The NetObjex SmartLibrary is a cloud-based Platform as a Service (PaaS) that includes a suite of components for using the IoT devices, including a content management system for creating messages, a point-and-click device registry and admin interface for controlling the beacons/sensors, an analytics service, and a custom mobile app that patrons can download to begin receiving messages.

Unlike the apps from Capira and BluuBeam, the NetObjex Browsa! beacon app and web browser can also receive messages, such as coupons, special offers, and notifications from enterprises that use the company’s Content Management System. When asked whether some libraries and library patrons might prefer not to receive commercial content when using an app that they signed up for at their library, company officials told LJ that patrons who only wish to receive messages from libraries and non-commercial institutions such as museums will be able to opt out of receiving messages from businesses on an individual basis.

Capira and BluuBeam have made a point of creating beacon apps that are exclusive to libraries and cultural institutions, but according to NetObjex officials, the company’s view is that early adopters of this technology are interested in receiving location-specific messages from a variety of sources, and might be disappointed with an app that is only responsive within a library or museum. If a patron does not want to receive certain messages, he or she can simply opt out.

NetObjex is currently beta testing LibrarySmart with two library systems, and expects be widely available beginning in June.

Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Associate Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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