Beacons and Mobility: How Cisco Aims to Transform Indoor Location Services
It’s difficult to imagine our world today without outdoor location-based services like maps and taxi-hailing apps. Indoor location-based services, however, have lagged behind as a technology despite its many uses. With the ability to track traffic flow and location-usage, comes data and metrics that can transform how we interact with the world.
Cisco CMX or Connected Mobile Experiences is all set to redefine and advance virtual-human interactions. The technology backbone supporting these mobile experiences is High Accuracy Location that combines ‘Hyperlocation’ and ‘Bluetooth Low Energy’ (BLE) technologies.
Hyperlocation and BLE have individual use cases that are driving tremendous disruption. However, their combined synergy can truly revolutionize indoor location-based services.
Accurate knowledge of locations within a facility can inform and transform our real-world interactions. A hospital manager can look at the concentration of activity within his facility and determine where bottlenecks are that could be removed, saving lives. A retail store owner can determine which areas of the store people tend to congregate in and move featured inventory for better display. An employer can better understand which areas of the workplace are most-conducive to teamwork and collaboration thereby improving productivity. Hyperlocation allows for geo-fencing and highly advanced location analytics that can yield a rich consumer experience. For instance, a college can text message all students within a geo-fence of a certain building or message students about overdue books when they are near the library. Not just content and targeted messages, but shopper analytics too can be conducted based on specific sections of the store visited.
The challenge, however, is usually on the infrastructure side – how can the wireless network leverage BLE in a scalable, reliable and cost-effective way? Traditionally it has been very time consuming and expensive to deploy and manage physical beacons for BLE. The installation often requires comprehensive site surveys, which have to be redone whenever beacon placement changes (or the RF environment is altered). In addition, batteries in the beacons are expensive to replace, and the beacons themselves can be lost or stolen. With the introduction of Cisco Beacon Point, an industry-first Virtual Bluetooth Low Energy (VBLE) beacon consul, we have developed a unique and highly innovative solution to address this challenge.
Each beacon point can replace eight physical beacons with a software-defined beacon, allowing for battery-free use and operational simplicity. These software-defined beacons plug into a cloud-based portal that allows easy management of software-defined beacons while making available the reporting data. Cisco Beacon Point supports beaconing in Apple iBeacon, Google Eddystone and AltBeacon advertising formats.
There’s never been a better time to innovate and launch new technology. We predict new and creative ways to use High Accuracy Location that will open up as the technology goes mainstream. The possibilities are endless as technology changes the way we live, do business, and interact every day.
Would love to continue the discussion @aoswal1234.