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  • TechCXO Panel on Data Driven Growth at the AWS Loft in NYC

    On Tuesday night, I had the privilege to participate in an interesting panel discussion on Data Driven Growth hosted by TechCXO and sponsored by Riverside Acceleration Cap​ital. It was held at the AWS Loft,

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  • IDC Health Insights:  Optimizing Digital Patient Experience a Strategic Imperative

    This is a good article published recently by David Raths in Healthcare Informatics featuring an interview with Mutaz Shegewi, research director for healthcare provider IT transformation strategies at IDC Health

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  • HealthTech: Consumerization of Care #1 Healthcare Trend for 2019

    Patient Experience and Engagement the Most Critical Issue for Both the Bottom Line and Successful Outcomes

    Two recent articles in HealthTech put a nice book end on all the coverage in

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    Giving Tuesday (November 27th) is a global day of giving – it reminds us to get in the holiday spirit by helping out family, friends, colleagues and communities. Connexient co-founders Mark

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  • Connexient Joins the Epic App Orchard to Drive Innovation and Transformation in Patient Experience

    Today, Connexient marked a major milestone in our evolution by joining the Epic App Orchard to drive innovation and transformation in Patient Experience together with our forward leaning clients. Connexient

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TAG Cloud

This Marks the Tipping Point for Indoor LBS

Last week was an exciting one for Indoor LBS! The big news was Apple's announcement and release at WWDC of new Core Location features that let app developers get precise indoor positioning data from an iOS device’s sensors. Here are a couple of articles:

The quick summary is that this new technology - available in iOs 8:

  • provides location updates for getting indoor positioning;
  • does not need a deployment of iBeacons mesh nor other technology.;
  • Uses Wifi and motion sensors to determine device position.

We are going to need to test ourselves to confirm accuracy, of course, but this is Apple so we are expecting it will be pretty good. Further, we had tested WiFi Slam last year before it was acquired by Apple and now baked into the OS - and we can vouch for the ease of set-up and map callibration and "pretty good" accuracy and reliability of the solution. We will be interested to see if Apple has made any improvements.

But what is important here is that both Apple - and we think Google will match or better this at I/O later this month - are making big moves to bring the "Blue Dot" experience to a mass audience. That is going to drive user adoption, awareness and demand on an entirely new scale.

So, let the Era of Indoor LBS begin!

But Not So Fast

There are three key issues that have been overlooked in all the excitment about this announcement.

1. Apple can only address "public" spaces - Malls, Airports, etc. - where it is far behind Google. That is not to say that Apple can't do it, but nobody should confuse a technical capability with the actual hard work of mapping, or assume that "venue owners" will flock to upload floor plans and build out maps on Apple, which has far less

2. The owners of such "public" venues are becoming increasingly focused on controlling and monetizing their own maps. Yes Google & ;Apple will be there, but there is a lot of messiness in the business aspects of doing this mapping.

3. Apple still hasn't learned the lesson that the data really matters! It is great that developers can now capture/model the building's geometry more easily - but that has never really been tough. Floor plans or AutoCADS work just fine too. But that is NOT a map, and the data required for directions and navigation is a whole different ball game.

For more on this topic, see our blog: Indoor LBS: The Map Really Matters.

A map is only useful when all of the location and metadata related to that map is structured, accessible, 100% accurate and reliable. To get that, Apple will need:

  • lot more collaboration and effort from venue owners than simply uploading their floor plans; or
  • a huge amount of mapping team resources to go do all this work themselves.

And this is not an Enterprise Solution

So Apple's move - and Google's to follow - are great news for Indoor LBS. They will influence Enterprise CEO's and CTO's to move more quickly in making indoor positioning available in their own facilities.

At the same time, it is also important to understand that this is not an Enterprise solution. Approaches such as this - whether handset sensor fusion, BLE Beacons or otherwise - solve the problem of the end user: i.e. where am I now?

That is fantastic for applications like MediNav Navigator Edition - we will now be able to bring a "blue dot" experience to our clients with much less effort and planning over deploying an infrastructure solution. And providing high quality location-enhanced Wayfinding to patients, visitors and staff is an enormous step forward.

But the smartphone-based approach does not and cannot address other Enterprise needs such as:

  • tracking and reporting where every ;device that has RF is (BLE, WiFi, whatever) - not just addressing individual end user needs;

  • maintaining network security against rogue devices - a huge issue in a BYOD world;
  • providing real-time and historic visibility and analytics across all devices.

For this, in our view Cisco MSE / CMX will still be uniquely able to provide the comprehensive solution that Enterprise's require.

The Path Forward Is Getting a Lot Easier

For our clients - and any Enterprise looking at Indoor LBS - the path forward is getting a lot easier. Even if Google does not respond at I/O, there are already several "pretty good" handset sensor fusions positioning solutions available for Android (i.e. no BLE Beacons required).

  1. Start now with handset based solutions that support the end-user need for location enhanced Wayfinding.
  2. Consider BLE Beacons as an enhancement option for even greater positioning accuracy and reliability.
  3. Move forward with Cisco CMX on a long term infrastructure to provide robust, Enterprise-wide, comprehensive device positioning for the broader applications and benefits of Indoor LBS.

For a demo of MediNav and consultation on the best approach to Indoor Positioning and LBS for your facilities, please contact us.


Indoor Mapping is About to be Revolutionized

Project Tango phone hand

A few weeks ago, I posted a tweet about Google's "Project Tango": logo

This is the kind of mind-boggling, "insanely great" technical advance that Google is righly famous for.  

And there are lots of other advances happening concurrently now with LIDAR and other technologies for rapidly building incredibly accurate 3D models of buildings - both inside and outside.  

For just one example of this, take a look at Zeb1 / Zebedee, where one person using a handheld scanner can build a 3D model accurate to one centimeter in the time it takes to walk the hallways:

ZEB1 DataLogger web resized 600

This is the kind of technology that makes a company dedicated to Indoor Mapping and Navigation salivate! We are committed to exploiting such technologies and approaches to make the most accurate Indoor Maps, more efficiently and effectively than any other Enteprise service provider.

But Data is Not Information - and Definitely not a Map

As excited as we are about this coming revolution in Indoor Mapping tools like Project Tango, it is critical to understand that a 3D model is not a map.

Let's look forward a few years from now (maybe less). Using Tango or a similar technology, Connexient will be able to send our map "go team" out to a client facility and build a 3D model - all the actual dimensional data along with complete photographic capture, dynamically married to GPS X/Y - and building Z - coordinates of a very large building in a matter of days.

That will be a fantastic tool for building a comprehensive 3D data set and representation of a building. But a user "walking" through such a model will be just as lost as the one walking through the real building. This is data capture for mapping, not the map.

In the same way, the satellite photographs that Google (and others) use also is not the map.   It is very useful visual information that has many powerful user applications.  But that is not the map, and definitely not a data set for turn-by-turn navigation.  

It is only after we have captured comprehensive, accurate data that the work of mapmaking required for Indoor Navigation and Location-based Services actually starts.  This involves challenges like adding meta-data that is relevant, eliminating extraneous data that is unimportant to the user, correlating data on POIs, places, people and so on to the map. 

That requires - and for next 5 or 10 years at least will continue to require - a lot of hard, detail oriented, painstaking work by human beings.  And keeping the data accurate requires good tools and techniques for both map-checking and making it easy for users to report errors and changes as they are encountered.   

3D is Lousy for Maps

This may seem like a funny thing to say for a company that prides itself on our rich, interactive 2.5D Indoor Mapping and Navigation UX.   But its true, and the distinction is crucial. 

My brother has worked for 3DVia, a 3D modeling start-up and then acquired division of Dassault Systems for the last 10 years.   Dassualt is among other things the equivalent of AutoCAD for building airplanes, factories, refineries, etc.  So he knows a thing or two about 3D.

To summarize many discussions over the last couple of years - and his experience over the last 10 - tools for 3D have come a long way, but nearly far enough for anything other than very high end Enterprise and Entertainment types of applications.  The problem is fundamentally not technical.  

Once you make the jump to "3D", you are:

  1. making a commitment to a level of detail in data, design & everything else that creates prohibitive cost;

  2. You are adding resource load onto the CPU and RAM that is still beyond what is generally available in mobile devices or PCs;

  3. generally adding complexity that is beyond most general purpose computers - it has been very hard to get 3D to work well except on dedicated specialized hardware and oftware.

To understand this, take a look at Panda3D for example:

The minute you go 3D, the user is conditioned - thanks to games & movies - to expect photorealism.  No matter what technology you use to capture raw data, doing this well is very difficult and very expensive.   No doubt the end result is super cool and compelling.   But not an efficient way to go about mapping.

In a Map, Less is More

The key reason for this is that when it comes to maps, less is more.    A map needs to reduce information to what is important and necessary for the user objective.  In most cases, this is getting somewhere efficiently.  

When you then combine map information with turn-by-turn directions in the carefully synchronized dance of navigation, the need to reduce information becomes even more acute.  The challenge here is to provide the right information - and only the right information - at exactly the right time so that a user can make a navigation decision without distraction and information overload.

That's why Connexient selected the "3D-like" UX for our Indoor Maps.  This approach - especially the "birds-eye view" that gives the user context of what comes next  - adds real value to the map and navigation UX - but does that without the overhead of true 3D.

3D Will Become More Accessible, But . . . 

There are two curves converging to an intersection sometime in the next decade that will make 3D more viable and accessible for non-gaming and filmaking applications. 

  1. Technologies like Zebedee and Tango that are dramatically increasing the efficiency of gathering the data / doing the 3D modeling of the "real world"; and

  2. the continuing increase in processing power & resources on devices coupled with slow improvement in the 3D software platforms.

When these curves cross, there is no doubt user interest and demand for 3D will increase dramatically.  But what this is not going to do is decrease by much the cost of producing 3D models that look good and feel real.

The key question for Enterprise Indoor Mapping and LBS is that of cost versus the user and business objective.  What purpose does a 3D model serve?   

For Indoor Navigation 360 Degree Photo Models Will Dominate

There are already lots of good examples out there of how this kind of complete virtual photographic model of a facility has other valuable applications in operations, security ("situational awareness") and so on.

And when it comes to the Indoor Map, the concept of Google Street View with 360 degree navigable interior photos is obvious, and one that Connexient is already pursuing. That type of immersive representation of the real world - when and only exactly when it is needed by the user - is very helpful.  

Combine this with the ability capture, geo-locate and reference such photos cost-effectively, and it is a very powerful addition to our Indoor Mapping solution. 

But Is Mostly Irrelevant to Indoor Navigation

It all comes back to that simple truth: when it comes to Indoor Maps and Navigation, less is more.  The last thing somebody walking down a hallway needs to be looking at is the picture of the hallway they are walking down.   To pre-plan a route or confirm where you have arrived at the right place?  Sure.  But not while in transit.

What you need while in transit is a simple, intuitive set of choreographed visual and audio cues of when to turn where, and what important information that can be easily observed in the world around you can be correlated to that.

Let's again step forward a few years and think about a world, perhaps, where millions of users stroll around with Google Glasses on.

Google Glass

It is easy to envision then that the visual representation of the map goes away entirely.  The user will not even view a map, much less a 3D model.  Rather, the will have the map and navigation information and cues projected onto the real world they are observing and navigating. 

While the Map Remains Critical

The other simple truth - and Connexient's mantra - is that the Map Really Matters.  The different ways of visualizing a map are also important.   But at the end of the day, it is the accuracy of the underlying map data and metadata - and how it is correlated - that make it useful.   

No matter how compelling, beautiful and elegant the UX, if the map does not get the user infallibly to where he or she wants to go in an intuitive way, it will not be used.  

So we remain eager and enthusiastic early adopters in every technology that will make that job faster, more accurate and less expensive - while keeping a perspective and focus on what will actually be useful, not just cool!

Digital Wayfinding Has Arrived

The word has gotten out it appears: Digital Wayfinding and particularly Indoor Navigation on smartphones is a game changer for Healthcare. It will have a dramatic, positive impact on long standing painpoint for patients, visitors and even staff at Hospitals and Healtcare Networks: people get lost all the time!

This has real costs for Healthcare organizations in missed appointments and reduced productivity, while also negatively impacting the patient experience.   When a patient - or friend or family member - arrives at a hospital for an appointment, they are already under stress. When you immediately add onto this the added stress of not knowing where to park and getting lost in the maze of corridors, the whole tenor of a visit is affected.

Now, with the ubiquitous use of smartphones and the arrival of Enterprise grade Indoor Positioning solutions such as Cisco MSE, we can finally solve and eliminate this problem once and for all.   We all know how powerful Smartphone-based navigation has been in the "outdoor" world. So it is not much of a stretch to understand how quickly it will be embraced by users and adopted by Enterprises.

For Connexient, at least, it seems pretty simple. Over the next decade, users arriving at any large building, facility or campus in the world will come to expect a mapping and navigation experience that is as intutive, accurate and flawless as the one they enjoyed to get their in the first place.

Connexient is dedicated to delivering that experience.

But Digital Wayfinding is Just the Starting Point

As compelling as the use case, need and ROI for Digital Wayfinding is, it really is just the starting point What our clients are doing when they implement MediNav together with Cisco CMX is building the infrastructure for Indoor Location-based Services of all kinds. Each new integration to other applications, solutions and systems in Healthcare IT will bring increased value and returns to this initial investment.

A couple of simple examples of this are features that Connexient is already developing for our MediNav HIPAA Edition,  to be released later this year, to address very compelling use cases.

Appointment Reminders 

Thanks to innovators like Mobile Commons and mobileStorm - and their early adopter clients - there is already a strong body of data that demonstrates that the simple act of sending SMS text reminders can reduce missed appointments by up to 30%!

Connexient is taking the next step with its HIPAA Edition to integrate appointment reminders into MediNav. Now users will be able to not only get a reminder, but also enjoy the benefits of our Parking Planner to navigate them directly to the best parking location based on their appointment location, and then navigate them indoors step-by-step to their appointment. And when they are done, our My Car feature gets them back to their parking spot. That's the power of integration!

Electronic Arrival Check-ins

Thanks to our integration with Cisco CMX and its ability to automatically Detect, Connect and Engage with users arriving at a building things get even more interesting - and useful for end users and clients. Now we know when a patient, visitor - or staff - member has arrived at the Hospital, and exactly where they are. That is powerful.

All kinds of uses cases and features spring from which can greatly improve the patient or visitor experience and simultaneously benefit hospital operations and security needs. One example of this is the concept of an Electronic Check-in - something we are now fleshing out for pilot projects.

  • Francisco welcome medPhysician / Department Notification.  With a very simple integration to the Hospital's appointment scheduling system, we can now notify the Physician's office or Department that the patient is now in the parking garage and on their way.
  • Security / Reception Desk Registration. The patient or visitor's details - already stored in the app profile - can be forwarded to the Hospital's Registration/Security desk to generate their badge and otherwise facilitate arrival.

And these are just the first simple steps. With further integrations, we can ultimately deliver the same type of effortless Electronic Check-in experience that many of us enjoy today when we take an airline flight.

The Gotcha: HIPAA

For any software product or service in Healthcare, HIPAA is always looming out there. We all know that we have an obligation to protect ePHI (Eletronic Protected Health Information), with strict enforcement and draconian penalties for any breaches. At Connexient, we take this very seriously.

As we move down the path to providing compelling features and services like integrated Appointment Reminders and Electronic Check-ins, there is no doubt that we are handling and storing individually identifiable data regarding a users' healthcare services - in other words, we are clearly in HIPAA territory.

HIPAA aside, Connexient is committed to safeguarding and protecting its users privacy - while at the same time providing the great convenience features they want. But in Healthcare it is critical that the HIPAA guidelines be followed.

The MediNav HIPAA Edition

The MediNav HIPAA Edition is the next important step for Connexient in serving the unique needs of the Healthcare industry. We are addressing all the elements required to ensure that our solutions are HIPAA compliant end-to-end.

  1. Technical Architecture. Separating and placing all user data behind highly secure HIPAA compliant hosting solutions.
  2. Communications. Partnering with best-of-breed HIPAA-compliant messaging platforms for any communications with the MediNav application.
  3. Application Architecture. Adding a secure "in-box" for messages and encryption of all data stored on the device.

With these steps and the release of the MediNav HIPAA Edition, Connexient will be ready, able and eager handle ePHI with full HIPAA Compliance for Digital Wayfinding in Healthcare.

Even more importantly, this is another cornerstone in our commitment to ensure that our clients patients, visitors and staff can realize all of the benefits of Indoor Navigation and Location-based Services across the entire Enterprise.

These integrations with other Healthcare applications and systems will not happen overnight. They will progress in a step-by-step fashion, driven by our clients' most compelling use cases. But Connexient will be ready - and a leader in realizing both the vision of connected Healthcare by focusing on the details of the complex reality of implementation.

Want to Learn More?

To learn more about Connexient's MediNav and the issues and considerations for HIPAA Compliance for Digital Wayfinding in Healthcare, please contact us for a demo and private consultation.

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Connexient LLC

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