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Stanley Black & Decker to Shutter Its AeroScout Industrial Division
Companies in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics sectors will not be able to buy AeroScout tags and exciters after Oct. 31. However, Stanley will continue to offer AeroScout solutions to hospitals and other health-care customers.
When it comes to beacons, Stelfox says she's seen significant interest from industrial users. "Not only do we manufacture beacons but also mobile devices that can read beacons," she says. The low-cost beacons could be deployed around a facility, and staff could use Zebra's Android-based MC40 touch computer to read beacon data as well as to scan barcodes or view picking orders.
"For us it's a real advantage that we focus on the use case. We've got our MotionWorks software," she adds, and the technology being used to feed data to that software can be flexible. "The end user doesn't even have to know if it's active, passive or beacon," she says. "Zebra is very committed to the industrial space and will remain so."
AeroScout's RTLS system requires more infrastructure installation than an RTLS system such as Ekahau's, says Emily Nardone, Ekahau's product marketing director. The AeroScout solution includes the option of installing exciters around a facility to wake up an active tag and prompt the tag to start transmitting its own ID and that of the exciter. By using AeroScout exciters in conjunction with AeroScout tags, a health-care or industrial user can locate assets and personnel more precisely. However, an AeroScout RTLS deployment does not require the installation of exciters in order to operate.
Ekahau, Nardone says, has patented a solution in which active tags transmit their Wi-Fi signal directly to the Wi-Fi access points, thereby sparing users from having to deploy exciters. Exciters, she says, are not always easy to install in a large open space with high ceilings, such as those found in the industrial sector. However, Ekahau tags do require an enterprise-grade mobile Wi-Fi infrastructure, which many companies don't have.
Nardone says the majority of Ekahau's RTLS deployments are still in the health-care market, although as users' Wi-Fi networks become more robust, Ekahau tags are also being deployed by industrial companies and retailers and, increasingly by schools. She adds that industrial companies have come to Ekahau saying they had opted against the AeroScout solution because of the need for the installation of exciters. In that case, they often choose to upgrade their Wi-Fi network and then acquire the Ekahau solution. At that point, the installation is simple, she says. "It's just a matter of here are your tags, activate them and go."
Raghu Das, the CEO of U.K.-based analyst firm IDTechEx, says the industrial sector represents a very small percentage of the overall RTLS market, but he expects further growth. "Enterprise is interested if RTLS addresses a problem at a price point where it provides a good payback versus other ways of fixing that problem," he says. "As with most types of RFID, it has been a case of building a solution and then trying many things until strong use cases are found which then enables faster deployment of systems."
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