BLE

  • Connexient and CriticalArc Announce Product Partnership to Integrate Real-Time Navigation and Location Intelligence with SafeZone Safety & Security Response

    NEW YORK and SYDNEY, July 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Connexient and CriticalArc announced today that they have formed a partnership to integrate Connexient's MediNav™ Navigator Edition 2.0 with CriticalArc's SafeZone security response and emergency management solution. The combined solution will revolutionize the ability of organizations with complex campuses and facilities to respond to security and emergency incidents.

    Connexient is the market leader in Digital Wayfinding and Enterprise Indoor Navigation Services for healthcare, with a rapidly growing roster of over 43 hospital clients. Powered by Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons and sophisticated handset sensor fusion technology, MediNav™ Navigator v. 2.0 provides rich indoor maps, "blue dot" indoor navigation and location-based services for patients, visitors and staff.

    CriticalArc is global technology innovator and the creator of the distributed command and control solution, SafeZone, which has been adopted by dozens of universities and hospitals across the world over the last several years. SafeZone fundamentally changes the way organizations manage safety and security operations across dispersed campuses and multi-site organizations, allowing proactive response that positively impacts the outcome of any incident.

    The combined offering will integrate Connexient's indoor navigation and location services, along with its end-to-end outdoor + indoor maps, to enable truly transformative capabilities for large, complex facilities with real time situation awareness, navigation-enabled response and intelligent egress.

    Connexient's Co-Founder and CEO, Mark Green, stated: "As the leader in Enterprise Navigation Services, Connexient is always discussing new use cases for indoor navigation with our clients. One of the most frequent and compelling topics that comes up is Safety and Security. Our clients tell us that they are literally 'flying blind' when they try to respond to issues inside large, complex buildings. We realized that if we could combine indoor mapping and navigation with a robust safety and security solution, the positive impact would be enormous. Our partnership with CriticalArc is focused on exactly that."

    CriticalArc's Co-Founder and CEO, Glenn Farrant, added: "SafeZone empowers first responders and incident managers through real time shared location information and incident details sent simultaneously to the control-room and to mobile responders in the field. This allows optimal response across campuses, satellite locations and for workers in the community. Integrating Connexient's indoor maps and navigation services will enable us to extend the benefits and unique capabilities of the SafeZone solution to large, complex buildings and indoor environments, and add the new and unique element of indoor navigation. Compared to the situation today, that is a truly revolutionary step forward."

    About Connexient

    Connexient (www.connexient.com) provides innovative Indoor Mapping, Navigation and Location-based Services for Enterprises with large, complex buildings and campuses. The MediNav™ Navigator Edition Patient Experience solution helps hospitals and healthcare networks to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, reduce missed or late appointments and improve HCAHPS scores.

    About CriticalArc

    CriticalArc (www.criticalarc.com) designs and delivers the distributed command and control solution, SafeZone™, which is revolutionizing the way organisations manage security and emergency operations. Deployed in hours, SafeZone combines complete situational awareness with the mobile control needed for an efficient and coordinated response to incidents from every-day processes and events through to full-scale emergencies.

    CONNEXIENT CONTACT:
    Geoff Halstead
    310-387-4424
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    CRITICALARC CONTACT:
    Glenn Farrant
    202-701-3092
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  • Hospital Combines Kiosks With BLE App to Help Patients Navigate

    Cincinnati's The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health to helping its patients and visitors navigate its hospital, medical offices and parking area with a wayfinding app that employs Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons. The technology, provided by Connexient, is helping patients to reach their destinations faster and with less anxiety, says Craig Schmidt, the hospital's VP and chief operations officer. According to Schmidt, the hospital hopes to add other features in the long run, such as push notifications and marketing.

     

    The hospital's Right This Way app is available on smartphones, while three kiosks also provide visitors with location information and assists them if they want to download the app. The system deploys Connexient's MediNav digital wayfinding app.

    Read the full article at RFiD Journal.

  • Indoor Positioning Solutions Guide for the Enterprise

    Indoor Positioning Solutions Guide for the Enterprise

    Today's blog is the first of a series intended to provide Enterprises with: (a) an overview of the major approaches and the best solutions for Indoor Positioning ; and (b) important considerations when evaluating your needs and plan for indoor positioning. Readers interested in a more detailed understanding and discussion may wish to contact us for a consultation and evaluation. 

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    The Inflection Point is Rapidly Approaching for Indoor Positioning

    As a company dedicated to Indoor Navigation and Location-based Services, Connexient keeps a close eye on anything involving indoor positioning.   We made an early and conscious decision not to get involved in the race to perfect solutions in this area - not because it was not important, but rather because there were plenty of companies both large and small with deep expertise and resources already working on the problem.

    The last couple of quarters have seen two developments that represent quantum leaps forward for indoor positioning.

    1. The embrace of BLE by both Apple and Google

    With the release and characteristically effective promotion of its iBeacon standard, Apple made BLE legitimate and highlighted its strengths. After some further assessment, Google followed suit and has also now fully embraced BLE support in Android 4.2 and 4.3 (JellyBean).

    The key impact of this is now highly accurate, handset-based indoor positioning solutions are available across both iOs and Android.  Moreover, Apple iBeacons are seeing rapid adoption and acceptance in retail, which should put to rest any concerns from other Enterprise verticals.

    2. Apple’s Integration of Indoor Positioning into iOs 8.0

    b2ap3_thumbnail_iBeacon-logo.pngApple announced at their WWDC earlier this year that its own Indoor Positioning technology is now built in to iOs 8.0.This uses handset sensor-fusion technology - with no BLE beacons - from a company called WiFiSlam, which Apple purchased in 2013. We tested WiFiSlam back then and and found it to be quite solid, so it will be very interesting to see how it performs!   While we still believe beacons are part of the reliable solution, the widespread availability of at least baseline indoor positioning in iOs 8 will in our view greatly accelerate user interest in and demand for indoor positioning and location-based services.

    3. Cisco's roadmap for Mobility Services Engine (MSE)

    b2ap3_thumbnail_cisco-logo-med.pngOver the last year, we have been privileged to work closely with Cisco in several different pilots and gain an understanding of their current capabilities as well as their roadmap for the Indoor Positioning performance of Cisco MSE, which is part of the Cisco CMX (Connected Mobile Experiences) platform. Without disclosing any details, which are confidential, what we can tell you is that starting with the just released MSE version 8.0, Cisco is rolling out a credible, comprehensive path over the next 12 - 18 months that will deliver highly accurate and low latency (i.e. high refresh rates) indoor positioning. This will be a true Enterprise solution for not only Indoor Navigation, but the entire range of Indoor location-based services that will drive value and ROI.

    We believe that these three waves of innovation will mark the inflection point in the market for the widespread adoption of Enterprise Indoor Location-based Services.

    Needless to say, we find that to be quite exciting!

    Overview of Indoor Positioning Technologies

    There are four basic approaches to solving the problem of indoor positioning that have been improving and evolving rapidly - and now starting to converge - over the last several years.

    1. WiFi Fingerprinting

    A software only, device-based approach that reads the digital signatures of the WiFi network.

    • Pros: Device-based software only, low cost, easy to calibrate.

    • Cons: Simply not accurate or reliable enough.

    2. Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons / iBeacons

    Simple, low-cost transmitters (“beacons”) that can be placed around a venue. Application software on the device and then be programmed to read these signals to drive a wide range of user interactions and engagement.

    • Pros: Low-cost and maintenance, standard embraced by Apple and now Google.

    • Cons: Beacon infrastructure to maintain, not suitable on their own for wayfinding or navigation.

    3. Handset Sensor Fusion

    This involves accessing data from multiple sensors on the phone such as the compass, gyroscope - in addition to WiFi fingerprinting and/or BLE Beacons - and applying sophisticated algorithms and techniques to "fuse" these together into an optimal estimate of the device's position.

    • Pros:  Device-based software only, low cost, easy to calibrate.

    • Cons:Good for some use cases but not reliable enough on its own for indoor navigation.

    4. Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE). A network-based approach that leverages an array of techniques to position all devices connecting or visible to the network, not just smartphones.

    • Pros: A true Enterprise solution, addressing infrastructure security and management..

    • Cons: Accuracy and refresh rates currently suitable only for some use cases.

    Up until recently, these were each separate technologies and strategies for Indoor Positioning. Now they are starting to converge - or at least be used in combination when needed.

    Which Solution is Best for Indoor LBS?

    Well, that depends!   The answer depends on your organizations needs and objectives for Indoor Location-based Services. Connexient develops applications and use cases for Digital Wayfinding and Indoor Navigation that require strong indoor positioning performance, so we will focus there.   Why?  Because these are where the most value for the end user and the highest ROI for the Enterprise can be found.

    Let’s start with defining the three levels of indoor positioning quality that are relevant to our solutions. 

    1. Location-Enhanced Wayfinding.We define this as a solution that can answer the basic question: Where am I? It must do this accurately and quickly enough to be actionable - i.e. a user actively navigating a venue can make useful decisions.

    2. Location-Enhanced Routing.   Here the indoor positioning accuracy and refresh rates are sufficient to be dynamically integrated into route visualization and we can start to actively guide the prompt user actions based on their position and let them know when they are off track.  

    3. Indoor Navigation.  Indoor Navigation is, of course, our Holy Grail.  This requires an very high level of accuracy and refresh for indoor location to support 3 key capabilities:  

      • driving the route visualization - i.e. the camera view of the route;

      • anticipating and prompting for upcoming turns; and

      • providing audio prompts and/or voice direction of navigation.

    Our Take on Indoor Positioning Technologies

    Over the last several years, we’ve been fortunate to have tested all of these various solutions in one way or another, including now in several pilots integrating them with our application. At the end of the day, there are in our view two viable solutions today, with a hybrid, step-by-step approach being the best for Enterprise clients.

    Here’s the what and why.

    1. Handset-based Sensor Fusion + BLE Beacons

    While iBeacons are fine for proximity-based interactions and engagement - whose use cases tend to fit better in retail environments - they are not suitable on their own for wayfinding or navigation. For that, the additional capability of handset sensor fusion is critical to providing continuous accurate and reliable positioning.  The good news is this combined approach, in our testing, is yielding outstanding positioning performance.

    Recommended Solutions

    Pros

    • High accuracy & refresh rates: 1 - 2 Meters, sub-second refresh frequency
    • Flexible:  Can work with WiFi Fingerprinting alone for Android and without any outside inputs where there are gaps in either WiFi or BLE Beacon coverage.
    • Relatively Low Cost:
      • About $50 - $70 per beacon.
      • Annual license fees in addition to Beacon deployment.
    • Easy to install:  Beacons are about the size of a matchbox
    • Easy to Calibrate:  Literally a few hours to a few days depending on the size of the facility.
    • Easy to maintain:  Between 2 - 5 year battery life.Easy to integrate:  both Senion and Polestar have excellent SDKs

    Cons

    • Really must have BLE Beacons to maintain consistent accuracy.
    • In effect a new wireless network to manage
    • Short range - about 20 to 40 meters maximum
    • Low energy:  will not penetrate walls, metal, etc.

     

    The Bottom Line  

    BLE Beacons combined with Handset-based Sensor Fusion is the most accurate, reliable and robust technology solution for Indoor Navigation quality indoor positioning available today - so long as you only need to position smartphones and tablets.

    2.  Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE)

    Cisco MSE, which is part of the Cisco CMX platform,  brings an entirely different, network-based approach to indoor positioning.   This is not surprising, of course, since Cisco powers that network.  While the current performance of MSE is not comparable to Sensor Fusion + BLE, there are important advantages to this approach for Enterprise clients, which we will discuss further below.  

     Even more importantly:

    1. the latest MSE 8.0 release - with FastLocate module add-on for 3600 and 3700 APs - is now sufficient for Location-Enhanced Wayfinding;

    2. Cisco is rapidly improving the indoor positioning performance of MSE over the next 12 to 18 months to get to true Indoor Navigation capability; and

    3. Enterprise clients can supplement Cisco MSE today with Handset Sensor Fusion + BLE to get Indoor Navigation quality wayfinding today.

     Here are the key data points.

    Baseline Requirements  

    • MSE v. 8.0
    • 3600 or 3700 Series APs
    • Associated requirements for PI (Prime Infrastucture) version

    Pros

    • Enterprise Solution:  Cisco has and continues to think through and address all the broader Enterprise IT issues of wireless network management, including:
      • Device / Tag management
      • Minimizing or eliminating Interference
      • Security
      • Unified Management
    • Improving Rapidly:  Cisco has laid out a credible and compelling roadmap to rapidly improve indoor positioning - which will include BLE - to accuracy and refresh rates suitable for Indoor Navigation and all other Indoor LBS use cases.
    • Trusted partner:  Organizations can rely on Cisco to deliver Enterprise-grade solutions that address infrastructure management and security.

    Cons

    • Accuracy:  5 - 7 meters - not suitable for indoor navigation, but very useful for Location-Enhanced Wayfinding.
    • Latency:  Starting with MSE 8.0, notifications and refresh rates can be reduced to approximately 10 seconds.
    • Deployment:  Requires high AP density and accuracy is highly dependent on the right density, location, calibration and other factors.
    • Cost:  More expensive than BLE solution - but depends on what AP's and coverage are already in place.

    The Bottom Line

    • Starting with MSE v. 8.0, Cisco CMX is a real option for Enterprise’s seeking to deploy Indoor Positioning solutions for Location-Enhanced Wayfinding.
    • Enterprises that want navigation-quality indoor positioning today should supplement their current Cisco WiFi and MSE infrastructure with Handset-based Sensor Fusion plus BLE Beacons.   
    • Enterprises alternatively can:
      • lay the foundation and address user needs now with stand-alone Indoor Mapping and Digital Wayfinding; and
      • plan their Indoor LBS infrastructure around the Cisco MSE roadmap - starting with MSE 8.0 and 3600 or 3700 Series APs.

    More Information

    Readers that are interested in more information on how BLE Beacons can complement Cisco MSE may be interested to review this blog and other resources on Cisco.com.

    How to Get Started

    So the great news is that any Enterprise which wants to provide anything from Location-Enhanced Wayfinding to true Indoor Navigation can do so right now!   Absolutely, there are considerations and decisions to weigh, and deployments should be carefully planned.  But there are no barriers to starting to leverage Indoor Positioning right now to: 

    1. provide a great Patient Experience;

    2. improve operational efficiency; and

    3. reduce lost revenues.

     For an evaluation and consultation on the best Indoor Positioning solution options for your Enterprise, please contact us.

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    Contact Connexient for a Free Consultation on Indoor Positioning Solutions

  • The Complementarity of Indoor Navigation and RTLS

    Part 1: The Path to Infrastructure Convergence

    At Connexient, we often talk to our clients about how Patient Experience is just the first “killer application” of indoor navigation and navigation-based services in large, complex facilities. Indeed, our vision for MediNav is about Navigation-enabling the Enterprise: where these services can bring compelling value to users and increasing ROI to the organization as they are integrated to address high value use cases across operations, safety & security, facility management and more.

    It has been exciting and gratifying to see that this vision is shared with many of our clients. Over the last several quarters, as we have moved forward in our strategic planning with several of them, some recurring questions frequently comes up, such as::

    1. How do RTLS and Indoor Navigation fit together today and in our future roadmap?
    2. Will these infrastructures - and particularly the BLE Beacons - work together?

    The good news is that these are indeed very complimentary solutions today, and in the future will only become more so. The key to achieving this is a spirit of collaboration and focus on integration.

    Today Positioning for Indoor Navigation and RTLS Are Complimentary Deployments

    b2ap3_thumbnail_RTLS-icon.jpgFirst and foremost, when it comes to "Location Services", it is important to understand that we are agnostic to the indoor positioning / location services solution - so long as it is navigation quality. We have always expected over time that this will become part of the infrastructure of every large facility, and our experience in the market thus far has reinforced that conviction.

    But that time frame is likely to be quite long - a decade or more - and there will often be a need for us to supplement or compliment with our capabilities. There are several reasons for this.

    First, BLE Beacons and other potential position data sources will often typically be deployed for the particular purpose of asset tracking, not navigation. A system that is deployed for RTLS - today at least - is almost always incomplete and inadequate to the needs of navigation. We then need to supplement with our own to fill those gaps.  When there are RTLS or positioning infrastructure partners that do provide the comprehensive coverage, density and configuration of BLE beacons required, Connexient can and will leverage this to support indoor navigation.

    Second, today - and for the foreseeable future in our view - only handset sensor fusion software on the phone can deliver dynamic, navigation quality positioning. So even in the cases where the RTLS or positioning infrastructure partner provides the beacon coverage and density that is needed, we will still need to bring handset sensor fusion - and all of our knowledge and experience of how to fine tune this - to deliver reliable, robust navigation at scale in large, complex facilities.

    Third, the new emerging use cases for BLE - such as tags for asset tracking - rely on a different approach and configuration of infrastructure.  Whether it be Cisco Hyperlocation or other solutions, these involve bluetooth radios and WiFi receivers and transmitters as part of a system to both locate BLE tags and provide their location back to a cloud server. The good news is that handset sensor fusion can take advantage of these transmitters as additional data inputs.

    So, Connexient’s approach of using smartphone based handset sensor fusion software complements existing RTLS infrastructure, while being well aligned with the growing importance of BLE beacons in this mix.

    Over Time, Indoor Positioning Infrastructure Will Converge

    After this transitional period of complementary deployments, Connexient expects that some day most or every major facility will have some existing unified infrastructure for indoor positioning, which is likely to be a mix of network-based and BLE-based approaches. The inexorable logic is there should only be one solution long term.

    In most cases, we believe that the complementary expertise and capabilities of handset sensor fusion software will still be required in order to meet the stringent requirements for dynamic, accurate, reliable and robust indoor positioning to support a navigation user experience. That may in some cases come with infrastructure solution at a particular client, but in other cases the infrastructure will provide the hardware component and leave the rest up to the solution provider.  

    Connexient, as always, will be ready and able to configure and adapt to optimize our deployment for each client to leverage their infrastructure and ensure that navigation quality maps and navigation-based services can be integrated across Enterprise IT where it can deliver compelling value to users and ROI to the organization.

    But the Challenge of Navigation Will Be Unchanged

    When that day comes, Connexient’s mission will remain unchanged: to deliver robust, reliable indoor navigation and navigation-based services. Just as we do with GPS for the outdoors, we will now leverage an existing positioning solution indoors. What is important to us is how indoor positioning is used to deliver value to end users and the organization.

    In the same vein, however, we also see an inexorable logic to every Enterprise standardizing on one solution for navigation-quality mapping, navigation and navigation-based services. To understand why, it is important to understand that Indoor positioning is just one component of what is needed to successfully deliver indoor navigation.

    In our next installment, we will discuss how navigation and navigation quality mapping are fundamentally different than and complementary to indoor positioning and location tracking.

    Read part 2: The Complementarity of Indoor Navigation and RTLS, Part 2: Indoor Navigation is Hard

Contact Us

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Connexient LLC

210 West 29th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 763-6604 | (888) 850-4920
[email protected]