Apple working with MLB on interactive Ballpark app

mlb in the park

Apple has teamed up with Major League Baseball developers to enhance their ‘ at the Park’ app, according to a new report from Mashable. They’re said to be working to create custom, interactive stadium experiences for fans.

The app, which has apparently been worked on by the pair since February, takes advantage of Apple’s new iBeacon micro-location APIs in iOS 7 to provide users with info on their devices specific to where they’re at in the ballpark…

From Mashable’s report:

“We’ve been looking at customizing the app based on where you are within the stadium, but GPS is notorious for not working indoors, especially when you are in a building made of steel,” Marc Abramson, iOS developer for MLB, told Mashable. “Instead, we are incorporating Apple’s new Bluetooth and iBeacon technologies for iOS 7 and couldn’t be more excited about the potential.”

GPS may be reliable for routing you to target destinations, but navigating the great indoors hasn’t largely been mastered. iBeacon is Apple’s solution to fix this issue.”

The MLB actually setup a demo of the app yesterday at Citi Field in New York City to show how a team like the Mets would be able to utilize the tech in their ballparks. And it started as soon as the user stepped off the subway, with a stadium guide.

From there, the possibilities are virtually endless. The app can display your ticket’s barcode on screen, via Passbook, as you near the park gates, as well as a map to your seats. It can also offer points of interest, like the Mets’ iconic apple statue.

“Not everyone who comes to the games is a super fan, so this adds a new dimension to the experience,” Abramson said.

As with a loyalty card you might get at a local restaurant or deli, fans receive a virtual hole punch every time they attend a game. The team can elect to reward fans for multiple visits with coupons for items such as a free soda or hot dog. Discounts can also be pushed out when you enter the team store. 

“The whole concept is to give the user an individualized experience that is always different,” he said. “The next time a fan comes to Citi Field, you might not get a prompt to visit the apple because it knows you’ve been there. Instead, it will highlight another area of the stadium.”

The technology, which the Mets are testing right now, is slated for a 2014 season launch. And while a number of teams have reportedly expressed interest in utilizing it in their respective stadiums, the League isn’t saying which ones will get it.

Apple has a surprisingly close relationship with the MLB—it was among the first to test out Passbook tickets, and one of the initial channels offered on the Apple TV. It’ll certainly be interesting to watch how this new initiative blossoms.