The Student Center provides the UC Irvine campus community and its guests a variety of indoor and outdoor event venues and services. It is the primary resource for anyone wishing to conduct a meeting, seminar, conference or large event on campus. The property includes a variety of dining options, shopping, and other retail services as well as guest lounge, business center, computer labs, and study rooms. This wide range of facilities and spaces makes for an enjoyable visitor experience but also presents unique challenges.
From the beginning, UCI has been known for its broad and expansive vision. It has also become known as Under Construction Indefinitely (“U-C-I”). To keep pace with growing demands, the Student Center was built in four phases. The first two phases were completed in the early 1980s with 40,000 assignable square feet. In 1990, phase III added an additional 80,000 assignable square feet. The phase IV expansion was completed in 2007. Maze-like in scale and proportion, “The Center” is now over 304,000 square feet. This type of growth is a welcome problem. But guests often become lost and even late to events. Navigating The Center can be difficult, even for those largely familiar with its layout. First-time visitors frequently lose their way.
Conference centers are experiencing a time of radical innovation and change. Outmoded systems are being replaced with contemporary technology. And with the unique challenges of The Center’s architecture, we needed to rethink the guest experience and come up with ways to facilitate their movement around the facility. After trying various analog solutions, a team of UCI student developers chose Kontakt.io Bluetooth Beacon Pros to satisfy their vision for an indoor-outdoor navigation app for iOS and Android devices. It made sense not only for its extensive functionalities and wayfinding capabilities but for its easy accessibility and integration with familiar consumer technologies like smartphones.
The app is called UCI Now. The team decided on a “Loose Grid” deployment of Bluetooth Kontakt Beacon Pros placed throughout the area. The grid processes the beacon data into user-friendly imagery and directions. Users are provided with real-time, step-by-step instructions with visual references and an accessibility mode for locating all meeting rooms, retail spaces, ATM machines, restrooms, lost and found and points of interest.
Notifications about the availability of UCI Now are placed throughout the UCI campus. Connecting is simple, following the beacon-powered maps and paths is easy, and the feedback has been positive. Now, visitors have a quick and easy way of navigating around a world-class facility.