The world is at an inflection point, where smart devices (phones, tablets, and laptops) are taking over as the predominant computing platform. While this can present various challenges from a wireless operations and management standpoint, it also opens up huge opportunities for businesses. That is because smart devices are location-aware, and location is a strategic attribute for engaging with customers or employees and tracking high-value mobile resources. 

Thanks to iBeacon and Eddystone, the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon technologies used by Apple and Android respectively, the vast majority of mobile computing platforms are location ready. The challenge to capitalizing on location awareness comes on the infrastructure side. How can the wireless network take advantage of BLE in a scalable, reliable, and cost-effective manner?

Deploying and managing physical beacons for BLE can be both expensive and time-consuming. Installation often requires comprehensive site surveys, which have to be redone whenever beacon placement changes (or the RF environment is altered). In addition, batteries in the beacons are expensive to replace, and the beacons themselves can be lost or stolen, creating more headaches. Furthermore, wireless networks generally lack the scale to handle a large number of BLE devices, complicating performance and management of BLE networks.

Mist Systems overcomes these challenges of physical beacons by integrating BLE location services into its enterprise wireless networking platform. How does it work? Mist’s Intelligent Wireless Cloud (IWC) platform combines three key ingredients to deliver flexible, scalable, enterprise-grade location services: virtual beacon technology, machine learning, and wireless access points with directional antennas. Let’s take a closer look.