“Location, location, location.” It’s no longer just the rallying cry of the real estate industry. Today, businesses of all stripes are tracking the location of smartphones—presumably attached to people roaming their stores, facilities and offices—to gain critical insights into how, when, and why they interact with these environments.
Location provides the context needed to bridge the gap between the digital and physical experiences your customers have with your brand (what retailers refer to as omnichannel). Insights gained can be used to enhance that experience—a supermarket adds a cashier when lines get too long—or to provide more relevant, personalized engagement—a mall offers free popcorn to the customer who hopped onto their free web portal, because he’s standing in their movie theater lobby.
You’re only limited by your imagination. And, of course, your ability to accurately locate mobile devices indoors. Which, until recently, has had its challenges.
Learn all about indoor location accuracy, the innovations that are improving it, and the new products that are powering the indoor location revolution in this episode of TechWiseTV.
(Watch a short below here…or just go right the full episode)
Location 101: Granularity, Currency, Latency
In this episode, Darryl Sladden walks us through the three-legged stool that defines accuracy: granularity (location precision), currency (data freshness), and latency (time it all takes).
Then we’re off to the whiteboard to review the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) techniques used to enhance location accuracy:
- RSSI triangulation – three or more wireless access points (APs), acting much like GPS
satellites, use received signal strength from the mobile device to increase location accuracy (to
within 5-7 meters).
- Angle of Arrival (AoA) – by determining the angle at which the radio energy arrived, you can further
increase location accuracy (within 1-3 meters). This requires a special antenna array, and knowing the
x/y location, height, and orientation (the direction they’re facing) of all your APs.
- Fingerprinting – compares signal strengths from multiple beacons with fixed locations to
determine the location of a mobile device.
Darryl does a fantastic job of simplifying these concepts, so I won’t belabor them here. Instead, let’s move on to how these advancements have made their way into Cisco’s wireless mobility and indoor positioning solutions.
Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) is a software solution that helps customers create relevant location-based user experiences (CMX Connect), and collect valuable location-based insights (CMX Analytics). It can run on the Cisco 3365 Mobility Services Engine, or as a virtual machine. And both have received a massive boost in capabilities thanks to two new hardware devices:
The Cisco Hyperlocation Solution uses all the advanced Wi-Fi location services we review in this episode to provide accuracy to within one to three meters, depending upon deployment. It includes an innovative snap-around antenna for determining AoA (actually, it’s forty miniaturized antennas. We crack one open in this episode). And, it’s sold as a field-upgradeable module for the Cisco Aironet 3600 and 3700 Series, so Cisco customers can leverage their existing wireless infrastructure.
Ever since BLE became a default standard on most smart devices, beacons have become enormously popular for pushing location-based apps and content. They’re small, battery-operated, and cheap—at least to purchase. The expense comes with deployment. Comprehensive site surveys are often required, and need to be redone each time your space changes or you want to move beacons. They’re easily lost or stolen. And the more you beacon to get accurate and timely information, the faster you’ll be replacing batteries. All in all, studies estimate it costs large organizations $300 per beacon a year to manage.
Cisco’s new Virtual BLE Beacon solution solves these problems by combining the high-accuracy Cisco Beacon Point— a PoE-powered hardware device you attach to the ceiling—with CMX Cloud Beacon Center management that lets you drag and drop multiple virtual beacons anywhere in your coverage area.
As you can see in this episode, there’s a lot to indoor positioning technology. The key to success is to focus on your unique use cases so you can architect your network to meet the unique location data collection needs of your business.
If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend you watch this episode on Indoor Location Accuracy. And when you’re ready, work with a wireless partner with experience, not just in Wi-Fi and BLE deployments, but with location positioning.
P.S. Learn even more about how indoor location can change the way you engage your customers. Register for our live, interactive workshop, taking place November 16th. Use the same link even if you miss the live event…we will record it for you!