Fort Bend County Libraries Embrace New “Beam” Technology To Help Visitors

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There is always something going on at Fort Bend County Libraries – whether it is an interesting talk, a fun program for kids, or new features and services. To help keep library patrons current on new happenings, Fort Bend County Libraries is embracing BluuBeam iBeacon technology that will send out alerts to patrons’ smartphones when they visit different parts of the library.

The alerts, or “beams,” are location-specific, which means the message a patron receives will be tailored to where they are in the library, like a “virtual tap on the shoulder” letting people know about news and events in that part of the library. If they are in the children’s department, they may get an update about an upcoming Story Time activity. In another area, they may get a beam about new releases that are available in the book, movie, or music collections.

The beams are transmitted from iBeacons, small devices that broadcast a Bluetooth radio signal, triggering alerts or messages to be sent to patrons’ smartphones – but only if they want to receive them. The new technology is an “opt-in” feature that patrons can turn on or off at their discretion.

To begin receiving the library beams, patrons will need to download the free BluuBeam app onto their smartphone from the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores and turn on their Bluetooth and location services while at any of the locations in the Fort Bend County library system. Since there are other apps that use the word “BluuBeam,” patrons should look for the BluuBeam logo to select the correct app.

The technology works with iOS 7 or newer operating systems on Apple phones (iPhone 4S and newer), iPods (third generation or later), iPad minis, and iPod touches (fifth generation or later). iBeacons are also compatible with Android devices, version 4.3 and above, that run on KitKat or newer operating systems.

When a smartphone with the BluuBeam app installed comes within range of a beacon, it receives whatever message the beacon has been programmed to send. Beam notifications received by a smartphone will remain in the phone until the phone owner deletes them. Beams can also be shared to Twitter, Facebook, SMS (texting), and Gmail.

Smartphones will receive a specific beam only the first time the patron walks through a particular area; they will not get the same beam over and over each time the patron passes through the area. The beams may also include links so patrons can get additional information or register for a class directly from their smartphone.

BluuBeam is Fort Bend County Libraries’ latest move to adopt cutting-edge technology and stay ahead in a digital-savvy world. Mobile technology has enabled people to become increasingly connected to the world around them, and this new service will provide the library with another way to keep patrons informed of entertaining and educational opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed during their library visits.

For more information, call the library system’s Public Information Office at 281-633-4734 or ask at any of the libraries in the Fort Bend County library system.