Guggenheim Near Me

iBeacon navigation

The Guggenheim museum began offering iBeacon-led content navigation in December 2015, when the Near Me feature was launched on the Guggenheim app. Near Me connected the Guggenheim app with over 100 iBeacon signals, strategically deployed to blanket the museum space. I was part of the two-person team that managed iBeacon deployment and feature design at the museum, in collaboration with developers from Acoustiguide. My work on the feature included signal shaping, development of the goals framework for our artwork/signal relationships, and design and production of mobile user testing experiences. I also proposed a client-side signal blocking technique that gave our team the control to create an accurate experience in our museum's unusual architectural environment.

Over the course of 2016, app use of the Near Me feature grew to exceed more traditional navigation paths, including screens for entering artwork wall numbers and browsing multimedia guide lists. By the end of 2016, the Near Me screen had been viewed twice as often as the wall number screen, and ten percent more frequently than guide list screens.

Our small team promoted as well as built the new app feature. I shot this video to announce Near Me in December 2015:


Installing beacons in the Guggenheim proved a special challenge. The building’s unique architecture amplified beacons beyond their expected range, bouncing Bluetooth signals off the rotunda skylight and making them accessible at certain points across the circular rotunda. Some wall and floor materials proved too lightweight to block beacon signals, creating bleed between different gallery spaces. I designed a system for reshaping beacon signals to accommodate building architecture, proposing client-side signal blocking through the Guggenheim app. Once implemented, we could carve individual beacon ranges from spheres to other shapes, by setting certain signals to block others on a beacon-by-beacon basis. This modularity allowed me to reduce bounce and bleed and create a working experience, with content customized to building gallery materials.

Based on the success of Near Me, the Guggenheim museum launched a second beacon-based feature in 2017.