A new way to network: iBeacons connect SXSW festival-goers

Organisers at the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) interactive, film and music festival have scattered more than one thousand bluetooth iBeacons across Austin, Texas to help attendees make personal connections with one another.

The 10-day event, which kicked off on Friday, hosts about 75,000 highly-connected individuals, the vast majority of whom carry bluetooth-enabled smartphones.

Whenever users opt-in to beacon alerts on the official app, they are matched with attendees sharing similar interests when they come within range of each other at selected venues.

Smart beacons have existed for a couple of years, but have so far gained limited traction. They can for example alert shoppers in or near stores to special offers.

The BBC's North America technology correspondent Richard Taylor spoke to SXSW app creator Ben West about the deployment.