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Indoor Wi-Fi Location and Beacons: Better Together Part 2

wifibeaconLocation-based services have been getting a lot of attention lately and people are increasingly curious about how Wi-Fi and beacons play together in the hot space that is indoor location technology. In my last blog I reviewed how beacons work and how to differentiate when to use Wi-Fi and beacons. There’ve been some great questions about beacon technology and how it complements Cisco’s location-based Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution, so I want to follow up on these topics with everyone.

What types of beacons are there?

Generally, there are two different classes of beacons: transmit only and backhaul enabled.

Transmit only beacons are exactly as they sound -- they simply transmit information to anyone that is capable of hearing (bluetooth enabled smartphones). They do not receive or pass any data or information upstream.

Apple’s iBeacon is the best example of this type of BLE beacon. You can think of them like the navigational beacons used by airplanes when on approach to major airports. The beacon doesn’t even know the plane is there, but the plane is aware of the beacon and knows where the beacon is allowing it to take the correct action. Same is true for smartphones and transmit only beacons like iBeacon -- the intelligence is located in the mobile application which must recognize the beacon and take appropriate action.

Backhaul enabled beacons generally include a Wi-Fi chipset for either management or data capabilities. Some backhaul enabled beacons are USB enabled and take advantage of whatever connectivity exists within the PC they are connected. Read More »

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Mobile Technology Spotlight: Mobile Phone Microscopes for the Developing World

Aydogan Ozcan_IMAGEThis is a guest blog contributed by Dr. Aydogan Ozcan, Chancellor’s Professor at UCLA. **

In many developing regions today, cellphones and other mobile devices have begun to play a significant role in healthcare distribution. Local networks operated by service providers allow medical staff to utilize mobile technology to treat, educate, and set follow-up appointment dates with patients. Not only can patients access information about their health, but they can meet with physicians via video over the mobile network. For regions where people may be hundreds or even thousands of miles from a local doctor or hospital, these mobile devices can become lifesaving tools.

While cell phones and other mobile devices such as PCs and tablets can serve as a source of medical information or as a virtual meeting place between a doctor and patient, the technology itself can play a more important role of improving health care in developing regions as an actual medical device. Take for example, the work of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Chancellor’s Professor, Dr. Aydogan Ozcan. Ozcan is creating portable and lightweight microscopes that affix to the mobile phones, thus transforming them into a platform for conducting microanalysis of blood, bodily fluids and water samples. With Dr. Ozcan’s vision and technology research, cellphones can become a mobile medical lab that can diagnose life-threatening diseases. Read More »

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Three Steps for IT to Deliver Better Business Results

The situation that many IT people find themselves in today is dripping with irony. They’ve deployed so many innovations over the years to address so many business challenges, that now most of their time is dedicated to simply keeping their systems running. Without incremental resources during these lean budget times, their new innovation cycles decline in direct proportion to their past innovations.

Given the current budget realities, how can IT break out of this innovation trap?

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Indoor WiFi Location and Beacons: Better Together

wifibeaconIn just two years, indoor location technology has taken off and attracted a lot of buzz across industries, from retailers to healthcare. But it’s no longer a conversation about just Wi-Fi – the introduction of beacon devices, including iBeacon, has added a new dimension to location technology for IT and their line of business counterparts to grapple with on how to leverage it to better reach their customer base.

Some customers have been asking about beacon technology and how it fits in with Wi-Fi, so let’s start from the beginning:

How do beacons work?

Beacons are sensors that send out Bluetooth low energy (BLE) tracking tags.  These sensors can be placed around a venue, such as a store, and a mobile device can pick up the BLE signal and determine that it is in close proximity. When a mobile app is built off of this technology, it can be used in interesting ways to interact with the end user, such as notifying a customer of a promotion for an item they are close to.

I’m having trouble differentiating Wi-Fi and beacons. What do I need to know? Read More »

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A Major IT Shift – Delivering Business Outcomes

During geek-fests like CiscoLive, it’s easy to become hypnotized by all the amazing technology. So many smart people are innovating in so many amazing ways. When the party’s over, though, we all need to get back to business. Not just CIO’s and CTO’s -- everyone in IT needs to focus on business outcomes -- now more than ever. Here’s why.

IT is under increasing pressure to innovate and help deliver business results, as evidenced by several new data points in our industry. Understanding these trends and next steps can help IT, business, and operations teams all work better together to deliver more value from technology.

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