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New Wi-Fi Access Points Come With BLE

A partnership between Ruckus Wireless and Kontakt.io has resulted in BLE functionality being built into Ruckus' Wi-Fi nodes; the system is being trialed by companies to provide location-based data in hospitals, schools and other public places.
By Claire Swedberg
May 16, 2018

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology company Kontakt.io has teamed up with wireless networking provider Ruckus Networks to offer a BLE- and Wi-Fi-based solution for health-care, supply-chain and public-venue deployments. The partnership, the companies say, will enable users to leverage their Ruckus Wi-Fi network to also capture and manage beacon transmissions, thereby broadening the ability for Internet of Things (IoT) deployments.

Kontakt.io, based in Krakow, Poland, makes BLE-based solutions for wayfinding, as well as asset tracking, location-based content, and staff and visitor management (see Howler Targets a Variety of Business Sectors for Its Beacon-Based Services, At PGA Tournaments, Bluetooth Beacons are Par for the Course and Historic Library Gets a Beacon Makeover). Kontakt.io has more than two million devices shipped to customers, it reports, involving hundreds of deployments.

Kontakt.io's Philipp von Gilsa
Arris acquired Ruckus Wireless in 2017. The company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., provides networking equipment and services, including IoT solutions, Wi-Fi hotspots and calling. The firm invented a patented wireless voice, video and data technology, including adaptive antenna arrays that extend signal range, increase client data rates and avoid interference via the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard.

With the new partnership, Ruckus will offer beacon-enabled versions of its Wi-Fi access pointssion. By providing BLE functionality in Wi-Fi access points, says Philipp von Gilsa, Kontakt.io's president, the company can make beacon network deployments much easier and more cost-effective to deploy.

Kontakt.io plans to enable IoT deployments that could be used in every sector, the firm reports. "Our number-one goal is integration into every existing infrastructure out there," von Gilsa says. That means BLE, Wi-Fi and RFID technologies could be made ubiquitous in such devices as Wi-Fi access points that previously provided only a single source of communication: Wi-Fi.

According to von Gilsa, the Ruckus access points with BLE functionality will enable companies to forward mobile-based customer experience content to cell phone users. What's more, the system will offer navigation and wayfinding, people or asset tracking, and condition monitoring.

Alternatively, with beacon devices attached to badges, or on assets, data could be collected by the BLE module in the Ruckus access point, and then be forwarded to a back-end server via a Wi-Fi connection.

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