Beacon Technology Application: Service Tool with Money Stream

by RaeAnne Marsh

BlindAppSightCompass was conceived as a solution for blind and visually impaired individuals needing to navigate in unfamiliar locations. But in the short time since beginning to build the technology — in 2011 — founders Briggs Cunningham, Ken Hirsch and Steve Lippert have identified much broader application in the marketplace, with tremendous revenue-generating potential, and are rebranding the company as World Beacon Technologies, with SightCompass a subsidiary.

The SightCompass tool uses audio signals to provide a detailed map of an environment. “We are bringing it into stadiums, malls, workplaces — places the blind visit outside of the schools that have already bought into this concept,” says CEO Lippert about the technology that enables them to map out any site and feed that information to the user on his or her smartphone. Being text-based, it can also accommodate hyperlinks, photos, “any kind of data we can put in this field,” Lippert says.

In a stadium, for instance, in addition to mapping out the entire facility for the blind and visually impaired, it makes available a convenience the stadium can also offer sighted patrons: They can place an order for food and pay for it from their seat, creating a different money stream for the stadium and a different experience for the patron. Malls, where the interest had been lukewarm when the men had tried to show how their technology would bring more visually impaired people to shop and spend their money, showed excitement about the tool enabling them to do real-time marketing to people in its proximity. “It’s a push of information, versus responding to people looking for information,” Lippert says, explaining the advantage.

Among other applications, the technology can provide information translated in different languages, useful in situations from transit stations to restaurants. Lippert recently met with the mayor of Park City, Utah, and says the mayor “sees the ability to map out the whole city in the major languages spoken there as a big deal.”

Relating that his company had to wait three weeks for Apple to catch up with them so they could build a back end to make their technology fit Apple’s phones, Lippert notes that beacon technology is one of the fastest-growing technology industries and that his company — with its tool invented, created and manufactured here in Arizona — is the only one with a product in the marketplace at this moment.

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