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THINaër Launches Low-Cost Beacon-based RTLS

Health-care and aerospace companies are already using the firm's solution to determine the locations and movements of items and individuals, and to analyze that data in terms of efficiency, maintenance or other factors.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 17, 2016

THINaër is marketing a real-time location system (RTLS) that employs Bluetooth beacons with built-in sensors. The RTLS consists of THINaër's Bluetooth beacons and receivers, along with cloud-based software that provides the necessary analytics to understand the meaning behind the locations and movements of items and individuals, as well as any sensor-related data.

The solution is currently targeted at health-care and aerospace companies, as well as the oil and gas industries. However, THINaër notes, it could be used in other sectors as well, such as logistics or retail. One health-care provider has already launched a permanent THINaër deployment to locate assets, and potentially personnel and patients, while other companies are still in trials that began earlier this year.

At hospitals, THINaër Bluetooth beacon tags are zip-tied to wheelchairs and other assets.
THINaër designed its technology to be easy to launch and access, and to cost less than traditional RTLS solutions that utilize active RFID or Wi-Fi technologies, or that require their own (or a third party's) software to manage the collected data. The company's beacon tags come in a variety of form factors and have built-in temperature and humidity sensors, according to Bryan Merckling, the company's CEO.

The beacon tags, which have a typical battery life of six years, provide status updates regarding temperature and humidity levels, or simply transmit a unique identifier if sensors are not being used. THINaër's Cirrus receivers can be plugged into a wall outlet or a PC's USB port, or can utilize battery power so that they can be attached to walls, ceilings or other surfaces. So far, Merckling says, most companies are using the receivers plugged into computers or AC outlets.

Merckling, formerly IBM's worldwide software strategy director, founded THINaër as BlueKloud 15 months ago, to offer a solution that captures location and sensor data in real time, and then uploads it to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform on its own hosted server to enable analytics based on that data. Telecommunications and mobile device management company Advantix purchased BlueKloud in February 2016 and, shortly thereafter, gave the company its current name.

Advantix's offer came at a time when BlueKloud was ready to begin testing its products with customers, after approximately a year of early development. "We had reached a point where we had to decide if it made sense to seek out venture capital and investors, or find an acquisition partner," Merckling says. Ultimately, he notes, BlueKloud and Advantix agreed on the acquisition.

"Advantix happened to be a perfect fit," Merckling states. The advantage for THINaër, he says, is access to customers that Advantix already has secured for its mobile-device and telecom-based solutions. "The low-hanging fruit for an ROI is location-based data, and Advantix already knows how to have that conversation with customers."

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