Students team up with tech company to test iBeacons

Students from the Cardiff University Software Academy have teamed up GCell to test iBeacon technology.

The Newport-based solar tech manufacturer has been working with the students on testing the pros and cons of beacon technology.

As part of their semester 2 module in mobile development, the students have been learning about Android and Java and how they combine with beacons.

They’ve worked on a number of client-based projects, which have involved them using iBeacons to bring proximity awareness to work being done in heritage, tourism and music locations.

The apps created by the students use Bluetooth connectivity to aid navigation and receive information from beacon technology. Tech developed by Gcell has been used in the experiments.

In just a few weeks, the students worked with Newport Museum on a potential app for the transporter Bridge and with the Western Front Association on a potential historical trail in Newport to commemorate World War 1.

Matthew Turner, who runs the software academy, is impressed with the results. He said: “Gcell and I met at Digital 2015.  The beacon technology GCell have developed sounded fantastic and we were keen to expose the students to it.

“The students have produced prototype apps for each of the three projects. From my point of view, it fits perfectly with the ethos of the Software Academy – to expose students to real world projects and up to date technologies.

Talking about the relationship between the academy and GCell, Turner said: “We would certainly hope to work with GCell again.  Both in terms of student projects but also in other areas of mutual interest. We’ve really enjoyed working with Dave and the wider company.”

David Pugh, who works at GCell, said: “For GCell, we were keen to get a new eager bunch of developers familiar with and working with iBeacons. We were especially interested in how they saw beacons enhancing apps and bringing another dimension to user experience.

“Experiencing that energy and seeing the projects develop was a real pleasure. Having 25 new pairs of eyes working with a new technology and giving their feedback on the good and the bad was also important to us.

“We didn’t see it specifically as a promotion of GCell or a marketing opportunity – that was very much secondary. We were far more interested in supporting the students and seeing them using the technology.”

Image credit: Jona Nalder