A number of industries including retail are starting to use wireless beacons to locate customers or visitors and push out messages. One problem has been accuracy to ensure people in and not just near a store or near a floor are getting the right message.
Cisco Systems has announced a new beacon system to which it says offers high accuracy. It is part of the company’s CMX mobile platform for providing and analyzing location data.
As outlined in a recent company blog, Cisco Beacon Point uses virtual Bluetooth Low Energy beacons for indoor location services. The solution includes an appliance that can generate up to eight virtual beacons, a cloud-based management dashboard, and a software development kit (SDK) that uses the virtual beacons to determine location.
Also announced is an enhanced Hyperlocation Solution, a new module and antenna that plugs into certain Cisco Aironet access points for improved location accuracy. An accompanying new client-side application improves accuracy by leveraging the sensors on the mobile device for Wi-Fi high accuracy and near-real time refresh.
Adoption of enterprise-grade indoor location based services has been slow, writes Greg Dorai, vice-president of product management and strategy for Cisco’s enterprise infrastructure and solutions group. because they were seen as too expensive, they lacked expected accuracy, and the refresh rate lagged. Deployment was seen as complex because indoor location accuracy required an equally accurate infrastructure. And, he admits, the expectations of customers often outstripped the abilities of the technology.
But Dorai says the new solutions should appeal to enterprises. The virtual beacon solution “overcomes the many management challenges of physical BLE beacons, including dead batteries, lost beacons, and complicated placement.” Virtual beacons “are as easily deployed as dropping a pin on a Google map.”
Second, it offers best uses for two wireless technologies –Wi-Fi for analytics, and virtual beacons for applications, such as proximity marketing, that require faster refresh rates.