Tech company GeLo, based in Grand Rapids, is poised to give sight to cell phones and mobile devices along Michigan nature trails and in cities. The new beacons could possibly make trail signs obsolete.
App and beacon innovator GeLo has partnered with East Lansing-based economic development catalyst Prima Civitas to develop state and city projects across Michigan using the hot new beacon technology that is being used by Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA and national retailers like Macy’s.
“GeLo apps and beacons can replace physical signs with precise location information delivered in a multimedia format of photo, text, video, audio and graphics,” said Al Juarez, Gelo vice president of Sales and Marketing.
The first GeLo beacon project is planned for a 27-mile section of the North Central Trail in Michigan that will have about 500 beacons spread along the trail to trigger sight specific and historical information to mobile devices like cell phones and tablets.
"Beacons can be used in many types of settings to trigger the app, designed and loaded with all kinds of creative content developed by the communities or local entities who utilize it," said Chris Byrnes, chairman of GeLo. "The app content can be changed to coordinate with local events, or be ongoing about local history or the natural environment. The possibilities are endless."
Byrnes founded and operated GeLo in Holland from 2011 to the fall of 2013 when it was moved to the Makers Building at 401 Hall St. 401 Hall St. in Grand Rapids.
Prima Civitas is the sole state provider of GeLo and will be merging the technology with state programs like MiSpaces and Pathways in both rural and municipal sites across the state.
Trails may be rural, like most Rails to Trails projects, or urban, where visitors stroll downtown areas to enjoy architecture, historical sites, art and more. Water trails are another variation along with creative trails that invite visitors to explore food, wine, agriculture, and other attractions.
GeLo made its debut last fall at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, where GeLo beacons were used by some of the events 500,000 visitors to access information on art installations and artists.
Beacon applications have also been deployed by GeLo at the Henry Ford Museum, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Ottawa County Parks Hemlock Crossings Nature Education Center and are going into a major metropolitan zoo and Fortune 500 manufacturing plants.
GeLo uses Bluetooth Low Energy beacons that transmit messages and app prompts to any mobile messaging device. The matchbox-sixe weatherproof beacons can be attached anywhere and have a signal range from one foot to 300 feet.
“The beacon market is expected to top $4 billion by 2017 and GeLo is one of the growing leaders in the industry,” said company CEO Jason Hall, noting beacon use across a broad spectrum of industries got a major bump when Apple entered the market with its own Bluetooth Smart iBeacons.
Site applications for use of the GeLo platform being targeted by the company include trails, wayfinding, zoos, museums, trade shows, transit sites and national retail stores. Hall believes the applications for beacon site-specific will soon impact every industry and consumer.
The GeLo system can in most cases work without WiFi or satellite connectivity and is much more precise than Global Positioning Devices.
GeLo received approximately $100,000 in funding from the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Entergy Center at Grand Valley State University and the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund of Pure Michigan with and the Michigan Business Accelerator Fund.
For more information on GeLo beacons and GeLo Spaces contact Al Juarez by email at firstname.lastname@example.org at 616-550-9996. Follow GeLo news on Twitter @geloinc and on Facebook.