How To: Real Time Location

Jackie Micucci
Thursday, Sep 15, 2011 at 10:00 AM

This week we’ve focused on mobile social gaming trends and some brands that have created great user experiences. One way to encourage gamification and enhance game play is to use real time location elements (RTL).

real time location image

Microsoft Tag can aid in implementing RTL because Tag can deliver the location data of each scan no matter where the user may be. It can also help against cheating. For example, in a scavenger hunt game scenario, Tags can be placed in certain locations, such as subways or famous monuments and even if someone moved the Tag, the coordinates of where it was scanned would help the judges with verification.

Check out the below Tag. It uses real time location and Bing search results. If you scan it, the Tag will give you a list of restaurants in your area. So if you scan it at home and then scan it at the office, the results will differ because of your location.

Bing Tag image

How do You Implement RTL?

It begins with putting RTL information into a URL Tag. (A URL Tag opens a web page on your customer’s smartphone and can be anything from a website to a video to a custom mobile site.) You can create or update the URL Tag with location awareness by adding parameters for longitude, latitude, postal code (including international codes) or a combination of the three.

Basically the Tag grabs location information from Tag app scans by using text strings in the URL. When the Tag is scanned, the text strings are replaced with actual location information. In most cases, this allows existing location-specific mobile pages to be displayed, and allows the creation of new location-based dedicated-mobile experiences.

The cool thing about RTL is it can work with any URL. So, for example, to return a postal code, you would use the URL parameter: {!PostalCode}. (This acts as a placeholder until the user scans the Tag.) The URL registered in the Tag Campaign Manager would read: www.foo.com/?zipcode={!PostCode} and the URL returned to the mobile user would read: www.foo.com/?zipcode=55126


What to Keep in Mind    

If you’re going to use Tag for a RTL experience, you need a website that can handle real time location. The Tag won’t create the content for you, but it will tell you where it is. The user also needs to have a smartphone equipped with GPS in the device otherwise it won’t work.

Also, make sure the user is truly getting a location-based experience with content that is relevant to them. If you sell kayaks, put a Tag on them and let your customers track each other’s progress as they check in from around the country. Then award special prizes or have them earn virtual badges for kayaking in certain areas.

Keep in mind real time location is not Big Brother. It will only work in a half of a mile radius of the scan. It will tell you where you are in that zip code, but no more. And finally, location information is only given if the users opt in. Users are given the choice to share location info the first time they use their smartphone and they can change the setting at any time through their device’s settings options. There is no additional prompt to enable RTL when users actually scan a Tag.

How Real Time Location Can Help Gaming

The following video is not only an example of breathing new life into an old favorite, but it is also a great example of using real time location in a mobile social game. Monopoly teamed up with Foursquare to basically turn the player’s home city into a Monopoly board. The game could be enhanced even more with the use of Tag. If RTL Tags were used, they could verify the players’ locations (bearing in mind that most GPS-based games do have a margin of error). Additionally, when a player scans a RTL Tag there can be whole communities built behind it. For example, a player scans a Tag at the Brooklyn Bridge, purchases it, but the Tag can also show the other bids, the other players that have interacted with it and so on. Then the player scans the same Tag, but at the Golden Gate Bridge and has the same experience. It’s the same Tag, but with different information and check in.

What types of games would work well with real time location? Let us know with your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Recent Comments
  • r0bErT4u

    09/18/2011 , 5:42 PM
    How do you send directions to the client after a Tag being scanned? For example, I create a Tag for a Real Estate Property, Party, Craigslist Ad, Event, Meeting, Date, etc. It would be nice to send directions from all their locations.


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