Netclearance Systems is setting out to solve a key challenge in managing Bluetooth LE powered beacons. They’ve launched what’s billed as the “smallest and thinnest” gateway solution which takes away the need for a management app to, well, manage your beacons.
The Challenge of Managing Beacons
As readers of this site know, beacons are small devices placed in physical locations (although a phone or tablet can also be a beacon). With these devices a user’s app can ‘wake up’ and interactions/content can be sent to the user based on their proximity to a beacon.
You enter a store and a beacon above the door wakes up your app and welcomes you. You stand in front of the cookie display and the store can send you a coupon for chocolate chip snacks.
But one of the challenges in deploying beacons is managing them. While a beacon can last for up to 2 years on a coin-sized battery, it still contains firmware that lets it run and there are cases where you want to calibrate the signal strength or advertising packet. For the most part, this is being dealt with by creating a second app which runs on a phone or tablet and is used to update the firmware inside the beacon.
WiFi Gateway by Netclearance
But Netclearance recognizes that this is an issue. Imagine you deploy 500 beacons to every coffee shop in your city. Individual store owners won’t know how to calibrate a beacon, and your support staff doesn’t want to run around town updating firmware. So you need to either build a management app run by the store owner which does a batch update of the beacon firmware, or you need to ‘hide’ this facility inside a user’s app.
With m2GW by Netclearance, you can now manage beacons by deploying a WiFi enabled gateway.
The solution, in concert with the m2Beacon, becomes the industry’s first wireless proximity solution capable of simultaneously receiving Bluetooth LE packets from BLE-enabled tags – the m1Beacon – and transmitting them in a Wi-Fi payload to a cloud-based server. The patent-pending design is capable of leveraging an existing Wi-Fi infrastructure or an inexpensive off-the-shelf Wi-Fi router to transmit the Wi-Fi payload to its server destination.
Founder and CEO David Fernandez sees the gateway being a key part of the solution it offers to hospitality and retail customers, saying that it opens up ” the ability to deploy a single multi-function beacon that can be used for workforce tracking and asset tracking in addition to customer insight and engagement. Our solutions allow our customers to leverage a single beacon for multiple uses to maximize ROI,” said David Fernandez, Founder & CEO.
As we’ve posted previously, “hybrid” beacon solutions are the next wave of iBeacon deployments. Combinations of Bluetooth LE with WiFi hubs, accelerometers, and temperature/humidity detection are all signs of a growing buffet of beacons – a feast for the Internet of Things, and just in time for the holidays.
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