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HID Global, Mist Systems Bring BLE to RTLS Deployments

A partnership between the two companies provides an open standard-based RTLS solution, while HID Global is also releasing a new BLE badge beacon that hospitals and other businesses can use for duress alerts.
By Claire Swedberg

The BEEKs BLE beacon can be employed by itself or integrated into access-control cards already in use. Additionally, hand-hygiene functionality and other RTLS capabilities can be added to the badge as needed over time.

The HID Location Services system is already being deployed in large-scale, the company reports, in health care and other vertical markets. At least one of North America's top five hospitals has been using the triple-functionality (duress, access control and hand-hygiene) badge throughout its facility since the beginning of this year, the firm notes. (The hospital has asked to remain unnamed.) By end of 2019, he predicts, 1,000 medical facilities will be using the badge system.

HID Global's Rom Eizenberg
Mist Systems offers what it calls self-learning wireless networks, powered by artificial intelligence (AI). In addition, Mist is the first vendor to bring enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, BLE and IoT technologies together to deliver personalized, location-based wireless services without requiring battery-powered beacons, according to Sunalini Sankhavaram, Mist's location service product manager. The firm's solutions consist of Wi-Fi-based access points that utilize BLE to provide greater location accuracy.

The technology was designed to improve on the BLE solutions being deployed for wayfinding and location-based content for consumers, Sankhavaram explains. Too often, she says, BLE deployments in the past could not be installed at a large scale. "The challenges of deploying a battery-based Bluetooth network," when thousands of devices are needed, is unrealistic, she says. Too often, beacons need to be manually checked for battery power, and to ensure that they are located where they should be. The question that Mist's founders asked, according to Sankhavaram, was "How can we make BLE infrastructure easy to deploy, easy to maintain and easy to scale?" Mist concluded that it needed to "virtualize beacons to eliminate batteries," she states.

Mist Systems was launched in 2014 and started shipping in 2016, to provide for the wide-scale adoption of BLE systems, Sankhavaram says. She notes that by building BLE functionality into a Wi-Fi infrastructure, the company can monitor a beacon's health to ensure that it is always in good operational condition, while also enabling a modular approach for Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as BLE-based RTLS and IoT capabilities with sensor data. The company offers the software required to manage the collected data, including what it calls its "AI-powered platform, network-delivering asset-visibility services." The software captures information from the device, she explains, then feeds it into Mist's machine-learning engine.

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