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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

A Mist Systems deployment aims to provide wayfinding and mobile engagement without battery-powered beacons. BLE beacon tags from HID Global or another partner, in the form of either badges, asset tags or hand-sanitizer tags, transmit an iBeacon or Eddystone signal that is captured by the BLE radios in Mist's devices. Those devices then forward the data via Wi-Fi to Mist's cloud-based platform, in which software identifies a tag's location within a zone, such as in a hospital patient room.

According to the company, the system has the flexibility to create more location granularity—or less, depending on a user's needs. For instance, public areas, such as a lobby or hallway, may require little specific location management, and thus fewer BLE beacons would be needed to capture tag data. In other cases, however, additional BLE-only beacons could be installed and be cabled to Mist's own access points in order to allow for greater granularity. HID Global also makes small battery-powered BLE units that plug into a hand-sanitizer dispenser to monitor workers' hand-hygiene compliance.

Mist's Sunalini Sankhavaram
At present, Eizenberg says, HID Global delivers BLE data linked to a mobile phone or tablet of a health-care employee or other worker, providing indoor navigation or other location-based services. "When people ask me what use cases intrigue [me]," he states, "my answer is that it's about what I can't even imagine yet: reducing barriers to entry and making real-time location pervasive and available to any developer, with no need for complex integration. [This] opens the door for rapid innovation."

Mist works with a large ecosystem of partners, Sankhavaram says, including HID Global and its Bluvision technology. It provides location-based data and partners with companies that can provide apps, such as mapping for wayfinding purposes. The Mist technology has been deployed at three Fortune 10 companies, she reports, as well as at multiple other businesses that include health-care facilities, hospitality firms, office buildings, large retailers and manufacturers, for the purpose of tracking work-in-progress. Companies are also capturing sensor data via temperature-, humidity- or motion-sensing devices that can be plugged directly into the Mist access points, leveraging the built-in IoT port.

Some customers are replacing their existing Wi-Fi technology with Mist's AI-powered, cloud-based, Wi-Fi BLE infrastructure, Sankhavaram reports, while others are adding the access points to their existing hardware, in order to capture and manage location- or sensor-based data. "We are seeing BLE become almost like a de facto open standard-based platform that can plug into various use cases and move into the IoT space," she says. "That makes the solution very powerful."

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