Mist simplifies mobile asset visibility with virtual BLE beacons


For decades, the enterprise Wi-Fi network served one purpose: to connect users devices to the company network. However, the rise of digital transformation has caused many organizations to leverage Wi-Fi to create new experiences.

A good example of an early adopter of this concept is the Orlando Airport, which went fully wireless a couple years ago. However, as I pointed out in the article, creating a differentiated indoor mobile experience is difficult with Wi-Fi only because Wi-Fi triangulation is accurate to roughly 5 to 15 meters. That may be sufficient for a handful of use cases, but most indoor services need to be more accurate than this. Consider a nurse trying to locate a critical piece of medical equipment. An accuracy range of 10 meters could pose quite a challenge. 

To increase the accuracy of indoor location, many businesses have turned to beacons, which are accurate to about 1 meter. For example, Levis Stadium has deployed over 2,000 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to provide location services to patrons of the stadium.

While beacons do hold tremendous potential, there is some downside to them. BLE beacons are small, physical devices that are powered by batteries. They can be attached almost anywhere—walls, ceilings, the back of digital signs or any other place than can be reached. Typically they are deployed somewhere in the range of 50 feet apart, which is why a stadium would need 2,000. Before deployment, the organization needs to do a comprehensive site survey because the configuration and mounting must be done manually, making it extremely time consuming.

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