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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

THINaër has since been deploying its technology in a handful of pilots in the health-care and aerospace sectors. Installations have ranged from as small as a few rooms on a single hospital wing, tracking about 500 tagged items, to thousands of items across an entire facility.

The proprietary platform can monitor thousands of locations and millions of beacons simultaneously, Merckling says, while layering in additional data. The result is what BlueKloud calls "multi-structured data" that fits into three categories: structured proximity data (for example, "Where are my assets, employees and inventory, and where have they been?"), structured meta-data ("What is the current and historical temperature and humidity of assets and inventory, as well as maintenance cycles and last maintained dates?") and unstructured data. The latter category includes physician logs, nurses' notes, maintenance logs and device-recall notices captured on the internet and linked to location data from the THINaër system.

THINaër CEO Bryan Merckling
Aerospace companies, Merckling reports, are employing THINaër's technology to track the locations of aircraft parts that are being assembled. In health-care deployments, Cirrus receivers are installed in patient rooms and some hallways, with tags zip-tied to such assets as wheelchairs, beds or patient care equipment. As those tags transmit their unique identifiers, the receivers capture their signals and forward the collected data to the cloud-based server, via a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. THINaër's software links each tag's corresponding asset with the location (generally a room) of the Cirrus device that last received that tag's signal. The software's Overlook functionality can also identify inaccurate read location data, which it disregards.

"Through machine learning, THINaër continually optimizes [location] accuracy so there is no need to adjust broadcast signal strength of the beacons based on smoke walls or firewalls," Merckling says. "THINaër is continually learning about your site and assets, along with how they interact with every scan, building a history to predict usage in the future."

Hospitals can then use the location information to know not only where equipment is located in real time, but also its history, and can begin tracking such details as how that equipment is being used, by whom (if staff members wear tags on lanyards or badges, or if patients wear wristbands with built-in beacons), and when a particular device was cleaned or maintained.

"The return on investment is in the predictive analytics this provides," Merckling states. "It allows companies, for the first time. to understand the true cost of care. This is info that's never been available" before, he notes, unless users were able to invest in an RTLS solution and the infrastructure required to make it work.

THINaër's software is hardware-agnostic, Merckling adds, so deployments of its system could use RFID technology as well, for situations in which some items require a tag that is less expensive than the beacon tags. For instance, they could be utilized for cold chain tracking or logistics applications.

The company is also developing a Bluetooth beacon in the form of a patch that could be worn by patients. In that case, Merckling explains, the patch could come with a temperature and heart beat sensor, and could transmit that data to the server in order to monitor a patient's health status. There is no specific release date yet planned for the patch, he says.

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