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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

To enable BLE solutions using Ruckus access points, a user would need to acquire an application programming interface (API) from Kontakt.io, and then access a cloud-based dashboard on which he or she could view and manage location data. The system is now being piloted by companies in North America and Europe, in three industries thus far.

In the hospitality industry, for instance, the Ruckus access points with built-in Kontakt.io beacons are being tested to allow companies to manage safety- and location-based data. Employees are provided with a Kontakt.io beacon built into their ID badge, which also comes equipped with a panic button. The beacon receiver built into the Ruckus Wi-Fi nodes at the facility can communicate with those beacons, thereby enabling management to know the locations of individuals as they go about their work.

In the event of an emergency (an unruly guest, for example) or an injury, a worker can simply press the beacon badge's button. Managers could then view the individual's location and identity and report to that location with emergency services.

Businesses will be testing the technology within schools. In such a scenario, the same Kontakt-io beacon badge is provided to faculty members and school employees. If an employee determines that he or she requires help, such as in the case of a fight, that person can simply press the button.

Finally, the system will be tested to track children in public places. For instance, at an organized event containing large numbers of people, the beacon badges can be provided to parents, to be worn by their children, thereby ensuring that the kids can always be located. By tracking their location with the technology, organizers can provide parents with access to their children's location in real time, using the Ruckus BLE-enabled access points.

The partnership between the two companies, von Gilsa says, "is going to be a major game-changer," since it makes beacon technology deployment easier than with traditional BLE-based systems. The BLE technology could also be used to provide zonal access, so that if an individual were to enter an area in which he or she was not permitted—such as on a construction site where that person lacks sufficient training for the activities taking place there—an alert could be transmitted to the appropriate personnel.

While Ruckus is building the BLE functionality into its new Wi-Fi access points, the company reports, existing access points can be retrofitted to enable BLE transmission via BLE dongles provided by Ruckus.

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