Location systems based on beacon technology have proven themselves in countless applications in a wide range of environments. From hospitals to airports and industrial settings to museums, beacons form the backbone of location-based solutions. If you’re planning your own proximity-based solution, here’s why our Beacon Pro is your ideal starting point.

What is Beacon Pro?

Beacon Pro is a beacon that is optimized for indoor wayfinding and proximity marketing. Each beacon has a five year battery life on standard settings and is equipped with replaceable batteries for long-term solutions, which can be extended further by measures such as turning the beacon off when your facility is closed or using the beacon's ambient light detector to put the beacon into power-saving mode when not in use. Beacon Pro supports both Bluetooth Low Energy and NFC, allowing all standard smartphones to access the system. Communication and ID shuffling is fully encrypted, and it supports iBeacon and Eddystone. Individual beacons have a 70m range, allowing full coverage with a relatively small number of units. The beacons are clip mounted and can be attached to any surface, and easily detached and moved when optimizing your solutions. Weighing just 2.5 ounces, they are discreet and can be placed where they will not be bumped or damaged. They have temperature and ambient light sensors as well as an accelerometer for mobile beacon purposes. The beacons can come with various pre configured profiles and settings to suit your project needs.

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Why Use Beacon Pro for Wayfinding?

GPS-based systems require a line of sight to a satellite. Beacon-based systems allow indoor wayfinding with standard smartphones. Using an app you provide, visitors, customers, and employees can use their phone to effectively move through your space. For employees, working in large buildings, such solutions allow them to efficiently do their jobs if they need to move around unfamiliar spaces. Beacon Pro's telemetry lets you analyze where staff spend more time to eliminate bottlenecks and improve decision-making, especially in large warehouses. These beacons also have temperature alerts, making them useful for walk-in coolers and other places where temperatures need to be kept stable.

For visitors, it can be even more important. A large museum, store, or trade show floor can be intimidating, especially to people who might be visiting for the first time. Indoor wayfinding can also allow users to locate things that change in real-time. For example, some airports are now providing apps which locate and direct passengers to the shortest security line, spreading passengers out and reducing wait times for everyone. Trade shows are using them to help people find a particular booth. Museums can update the map as temporary exhibits change without a lot of effort or the cost associated with replacing signage.

Beacon Pro is ideally optimized for wayfinding purposes. The beacons are low in cost and can be positioned wherever they are needed, and easily provide wayfinding coverage for your entire building. With a 70m range, you only need to install one beacon in a room, and then allow the associated app to tell the user where they are. For most indoor wayfinding purposes, this is more than sufficient. Beacons can be located where users will not even see them (ideally, higher up on the walls or on the ceiling where they will not be walked into).

The app can then hook into the cloud to give users turn-by-turn directions to their destination, whether that's a room in the hospital, a new museum exhibit, or the nearest bathroom. Beacon Pro is compatible with both Bluetooth 4.2 and Bluetooth 5, which future proofs the system while supporting current budget smartphones. It also supports iBeacon for users on iOS. This means there is no need for expensive devices, energy demands are low, and the system remains reliable over time. The system provides excellent coverage for accurate wayfinding.

Beacon Pro is a great, affordable way to move from passive wayfinding such as maps and QR codes, to an active system that is smooth and nearly invisible to your users. Using our device management software, you can also generate a map of beacon locations that helps you identify beacons that are not working or need new batteries.

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Why Use Beacon Pro for Proximity Notifications?

Think about a museum. Exhibits have signs next to them, and these days they often have QR codes to allow people to use their smartphone to get more information about the exhibit or artifact.

With beacon-based systems, your visitors don't have to gather around signs or sign a QR code. Rather, the location system will tell their phone to automatically download the information, reducing crowding and improving the visitor experience.

This is not the only use for the technology. Proximity marketing can push ads or deals to a smartphone based on where somebody is. For example, you might use proximity marketing to inform customers about things often bought with the item(s) they are looking at. Highly-specific marketing tends to cause less resentment than general announcements. Proximity marketing is also useful at trade shows, where booth holders can be given the opportunity to provide marketing information that can be pushed to attendees as they enter that person's booth. You can also use it to give visitors and employees safety information, share important notices, remind people when the store is closing without loud announcements, etc. Proximity-based notifications allow for a much more specific and granular way of providing information, without anyone needing to take action.

Again, Beacon Pro is optimized for this use case. It's compatible with iOS or Android apps, as long as your customers or visitors have downloaded your recommended app, it can communicate the information needed. The information is not stored on the beacons, but in the Cloud, with the app making the downloads based on location data from multiple beacons. Much like indoor wayfinding, this allows your visitor's location to be pinpointed, but the purpose here is to provide them with useful information or appropriate marketing materials. - UPDATES on the sanitation or reminders about covid stuff etc

This makes for a better visitor experience. For employees, there are other use cases. For example, an employee can use an app to check when the next scheduled meeting is in the room they are in, so they know how much time they have before they need to vacate. Warehouse employees can get information about inventory levels (which can also be automatically flagged for restock) and where there might be backup inventory, as well as the location of equipment. Employees can even leave each other virtual notes that show up only in the relevant location, reducing clutter and saving paper that might otherwise be wasted on "sticky notes." This can be integrated into preventive real time maintenance systems or time keeping.

Beacon Pro offers reliable and secure performance with an extended battery life and a good range, and can provide proximity-based content and notifications to all visitors using their own devices. All you need is a customer-facing app that allows your visitors to get the appropriate information from the Cloud.

Upgrade to Beacon Pro

Whether you are implementing a new indoor wayfinding and proximity-based notification system or replacing an older Wi-Fi-based system, Beacon Pro is your go-to hardware. By switching to Bluetooth from Wi-Fi, you free up your users' Wi-Fi bandwidth for other purposes and reduce the amount of energy the system uses. Bluetooth is a universal protocol and as Beacon Pro supports Bluetooth 5, it is likely to be a long time before you need to worry about hardware updates to support newer devices.

Using Beacon Pro allows you to improve the accuracy of your indoor wayfinding systems without using expensive readers or having to hand out tags and badges to visitors. Instead, it works smoothly with your customers' and employees' existing devices, integrating with outdoor wayfinding solutions as necessary (for example, zoos might have a GPS-based system for the grounds and then switch to beacon-based when entering an aquarium or animal house). Users will not notice the system, only the information they are able to get to support their experience.

The paired device management software allows you to onboard devices automatically, detect low batteries and reorder as needed, receive notification about infrastructure issues, etc. While no solution is set and forget, Kontakt.io's software allows you to focus on things other than your RLTS, such as updating the content and continuing to improve the customer experience. It also comes with a smartphone app that can be used to configure beacons, ensure firmware updates go through, and check usage right from an Android or iOS smartphone. This makes updates easy to do on the fly and helps maintenance personnel keep the system running smoothly.

By switching to Beacon Pro and Kontakt.io, you can improve the experience of both customers and employees, attract customers and save money by improving employee efficiency. To find out more, check out Beacon Pro today, and talk to us about custom solutions and assistance with installation.

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Many businesses are planning to get back to normal by August 2021. Many are hoping to be back in the office even before that, with convenient, easy-to-use solutions already in place. Before you make the transition, however, you want your office to be ready to go, with all the right tools in place.

One critical addition? An IoT solution that will allow for a variety of tracing, navigation, and more. 

It can take as much as six months to manage an effective rollout. With many employees out of the business, working from home, it could take longer to effectively test your solution and make sure that it works according to plan. By investing in an IoT solution now, you can ensure that your business is ready to go when the day arrives. Forethought and planning will help set your business apart from the competition and ensure that you're ready for whatever comes your way. 

Occupancy Tracking: Benefits Now and in the Future

Many businesses are currently operating under strict limits concerning the number of people who can be in the facility at once. You need to maintain business operations as normally as possible while still maintaining appropriate social distancing measures and decreasing the number of people who may face exposure to one another at any given time. In addition, occupancy tracking can offer a number of long-term benefits for your business that you may want to have in place by the time you return to normal operations. 

Things to consider include:

Occupancy tracking allows you to reduce energy costs

When you can easily track occupancy throughout the building, you know which areas get used on a regular basis and what times they see the highest levels of activity. As a result, you can reduce your heating and cooling in areas of the building that aren't currently in use or turn down lighting in areas that don't have anyone in them. IoT solutions can also allow you to selectively turn on those areas if someone needs to enter them during an odd time. 

Improve security throughout the building

In addition to allowing you to reduce your overall energy costs, occupancy tracking can make it easier to keep track of where people travel throughout the building. What areas do people access on a regular basis? Do you have restricted areas properly secured, or can people access them more easily than you think? Through your IoT solutions, you can more easily track the movements of people throughout the building and even see what people have accessed specific areas, which could prove vital if you have an unexpected security threat. 

Enhance the safety of employees and visitors

A fire breaks out in your building. Where are your employees? What about visitors to the property? If you do experience a security threat, can you tell where people are and where you need to respond? If there's a medical emergency, can you quickly get people where they need to be? Occupancy tracking can improve your ability to track those movements and see where your employees are. 

Improve your understanding of the areas you're really using 

How much of your building do you actually use on a regular basis? Are you outgrowing your current space, or do you just need to make some adjustments to meeting rooms and common areas? Occupancy tracking can give you a better idea of how much of your existing space you're really using, which can allow you to repurpose it as needed. 

Hot Desking

Instead of having a single desk or workspace for each employee, hot desking allows employees to take advantage of whatever space is currently available. In the transition back to the office after COVID-19, this trend could increase in popularity. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, around 80% of workers indicated that they wanted to be able to work from home at least part-time. An estimated 60% noted in June that they would like to continue working from home when the crisis comes to an end. 

An increased number of businesses are transitioning their employees to at least part-time remote work. Across industries, many management teams have learned that remote work is more feasible than before. Everyone from corporate real estate offices to healthcare has discovered that more of their employees can complete their duties from home than they initially thought. While not every job is compatible with a work-from-home option, an increased number of businesses are interested in allowing their employees to work from home at least part of the time.

These work-from-home options mean that many employees will only be in the office a couple of days a week, if that. They don't need a dedicated office or desk space, since they won't be in often. What they do need is the ability to connect to their virtual workspace from any station in the office: to quickly and effectively transition their materials. 

Detect employees as they approach

Sensors installed under each desk can detect the presence of a particular individual based on their devices. While employees may still have to log in, you can more easily track the presence of each employee and ensure that they have the right settings in place. 

Track utilization

When you're using the hot desking method in your office, you may find it more difficult to track utilization. Are your desks seeing reasonable utilization over the course of the week, or could you downsize and still see the same overall level of productivity? By tracking utilization, you can also get a better idea of when you need to expand your available desks and other options within the office, since you'll be able to see how many of them are really getting used over the course of the day. 

As you track utilization, you may also note that some desks see considerably more use than others. They may have additional features and technology, more privacy, or simply a more desirable location. Tracking these metrics can give you a better idea of what your employees are really looking for in their workstations, which can allow you to better customize what you can offer across the office. 

Keep track of who is using those desks

Are there employees who need to be in the office more than others? Employees who are simply more productive in an office environment? Through your IoT solutions, you can better track the employees who actually use those desks on a regular basis. This can make it easier to make critical decisions about, for example, who might actually need more office space versus who simply wants the benefits of their own office. 

Indoor Navigation and Wayfinding

Many office buildings and warehouses can prove incredibly difficult to navigate if you don't know your way. Where is that specific closet, filled with important items, really located? Where is that particular set of inventory actually stored? 

Visitors and employees alike can benefit strongly from indoor navigation and wayfinding abilities. Whether they're making their way quietly through a carpeted office, trying to avoid distracting other workers, or working their way through a crowded warehouse, IoT solutions can make navigation tasks much easier. 

Download the Indoor Navigation with Bluetooth LE Beacons white paper now>

Easily locate important inventory

Make it easy for employees to find exactly what they're looking for. You can utilize an online catalog or tag specific items, including large equipment, to make them easier to locate. Being able to easily track your inventory can make it much easier to keep up with daily business tasks and help streamline employee productivity. 

Provide a virtual map for employees and visitors

In a large facility, visitors may struggle to navigate effectively, especially the first time they visit. Navigation and wayfinding solutions, on the other hand, can help them take the easiest path to their destination. It doesn't matter if they're looking for a specific office among many or trying to navigate through a maze of hallways. IoT solutions will allow each individual to see exactly where they are, where they need to go, and how to get there. It can also make it easier for visitors to navigate security checkpoints. 

Contact Tracing

In a post-COVID-19 society, contact tracing has become increasingly important. You need to know where people have been when they are in the office. Who did they talk to? Which part of the office they occupied?

Through IoT solutions, you can easily track who was in the office, how long they were in the office, and who they were in contact with--and for how long. This can allow you to warn other employees about potential disease exposure and even provide them with an assessment of how much risk they might face: for example, an employee who spoke to an infected individual for only a few seconds while passing in the hallway might have a much lower exposure risk than one who sat down across the break room table from him for thirty minutes over lunch. 

Contact tracing solutions can also help you see where an employee has been. COVID-19 might be the big worry right now, but other viruses and germs can also cause outbreaks within the office. Through your IoT contact tracing solutions, you can quickly see what areas of the building an employee has been in and track his movements so that you can focus cleaning solutions on those areas. 

Are You Ready?

Your business has had to make changes and respond quickly to challenges over the course of the past year. As you gear up for your return to more normal operations, is your IoT solution ready? Contact us today to learn more about our IoT solutions and how they can help take your business to the next level in 2021 and beyond.

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From the Mobile World Congress in Spain to the Himms Conference in the USA to the East China Import and Export Commodity Fair, trade shows and exhibitions have been canceled and others postponed due to the fallout of the novel Coronavirus pandemic. As countries slowly open their economies, UFI has published a global planning framework guideline for reopening exhibitions and B2B trade events. The guidance, which was put together by event organizers, venues, contractors, and destinations, offers a whole range of recommendations for creating a safe and controlled environment. The framework gives authorities the confidence to allow exhibitions to reopen based on the assured implementation of agreed health and safety standards. 
Over the years, trade shows have grown to be the places where tens of thousands of buyers and sellers converge into controlled spaces to discuss problems, solutions, pricing, and aspirations associated with brands. The success of trade fairs is determined by human capability in regards to the maximum number of meaningful exchanges you had with qualified buyers and the ability to convince potential buyers to purchase your products. Technology has been and continues to be a deal maker in trade exhibitions. It will continue to make a major impact on events involving huge crowds due to the safety parameters to be maintained at these events. Real-time location tracking technology makes it possible for event organizers to measure the effectiveness of the different components that make up an event.


Make the most out of location data at the upcoming tradeshows.
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By adopting location-tracking technology in your trade fairs, you will be able to understand the behaviors of all participants well enough to facilitate better business connections. Success based on the number of people who visited your booth, being able to maintain safety guidelines, guided indoor navigations and successfully tracking your assets after the event are key metrics. Below are some of the ways that location tracking technology will help trade fairs and exhibitions in the post-COVID19 reopening.

1.   Foot Traffic

Bluetooth Low Energy tracking technology has been deployed in trade fairs and exhibitions through stationary transmitters that are placed in specific locations throughout the exhibition floors. These transmitters replace badges and scanners that have been used over the years to estimate metrics. Attendees will be required to download and run the mobile event app that will be connected to the receiver to receive real-time tracking information. Alternatively, due to the complexities involved in convincing attendees to download the app, BLE beacon tags embedded in their wearable badges can be used. A network of BLE readers will then be deployed throughout the exhibition areas to capture and store attendee data that will help you measure the success metrics, including the peak traffic hours, wait time, traffic flow, and occupancy rates.

2.   Indoor Navigation

It is never easy to find your way around large and confusing hallways hosting numerous exhibitors and gastronomy areas at trade fairs, in spite of the hall plans. Exhibitors are confronted with the problems of easily losing sight of their stand personnel and have problems locating their employees under time pressures.
Indoor navigation with location-tracking technology offers decisive advantages for exhibitions that are dependent on high accuracy. Bluetooth Low Energy beacons are installed throughout the exhibition grounds to help the trade fair visitors' smartphones to receive Bluetooth signals from the beacons and use a signal strength measurement for positioning, which serves as a basis for indoor guidance. The navigation system is a versatile concept for determining your attendees' positions, the specific locations of your products in your booth, the various floors in the exhibition venue, etc. The user is guided from their current location to the desired destination through a turn-by-turn navigation. For instance, attendees are directed through navigations to a session that is about to commence on the next floor while they network. This is a great way to foster engagement among attendees while ensuring they get the most out of the event.
Download our "Indoor Navigation Is Changing Your Industry" free white paper now> 

3.   Asset Tracking

For decades, exhibitors have relied on a manual checklist to inventory their assets before and after a trade fair event. In some instances, you may report the loss of assets including booth parts and components and other inventory during the event, which is an additional cost to your company when replacing these assets. While asset tracking can be time-consuming and expensive, location tracking technology offers an alternative method of keeping track of all your assets thus maximizing asset control efficiency and minimizing equipment loss. Furthermore, you can track the location of assets as they arrive at the venues, especially if you are dealing with sensitive assets. Bluetooth technology helps in tracking both movable and immovable assets at the event and will help you keep track of the location of these assets before and after the event.
BLE beacons use wireless technology where they are attached to assets and IoT gateways to help find the location information of assets and show the real-time location of the assets within the floor plan setting. Kontakt.io Simon AI’s Search & Find provides a dashboard for system administration and management where you can commence your set-up procedure. You can place the BLE gateways on each floor in a grid pattern to maintain a regular power outlet and upload the floor plan on the dashboard for tracking of the assets.
One major advantage of Bluetooth asset tracking technology is that you can design the whole system to suit your needs and budget. You can create a system that will track assets indoors automatically with minimal human participation. You may also reduce your costs by combining QR and barcodes on your assets with Bluetooth beacons to locate the position of all your assets. With the advanced BLE beacons, you will not only track your assets but also capture the physical conditions and create an automated system of IoT with your assets during the exhibition.

4.   Safety

Given the global dynamics of coronavirus after lifting the stay at home measures, contact tracing will be a key aspect in ensuring social distancing and safety standards in trade fairs and exhibitions. You will need automated feedback from the attendees without direct interactions as a measure of ensuring minimum physical contact with people. Location tracking technology makes these efforts possible through tags and ultra-wideband signals to track attendee locations during the trade fair event. When social distancing parameters are violated including the 1-2 meter radius distance, the tag alarm alerts you and persons in violation of the parameters.
RTLS technology from Kontakt.io uses badge-based technology to track the location of each visitor, recording whether they have maintained proper social distancing parameters. The historical data collected and recorded will allow for accurate contact tracing. In the event that any of the attendees shows symptomatic signs of the infection, the COVID19 Contact Tracker Webapp will be able to locate the contacts of all the persons in the event as they would be at risk of exposure to the disease.
Equipping your visitors with smart badges when checking in will help you to define geo-fenced areas within the exhibition floor, allowing you to set maximum occupancy and to monitor the area to avoid overcrowding at any given time. It will also enhance the setting up of geo-fence hand washing stations and track the amount of time spent at a particular point in case of an emergency.

Takeaway

As the global economy gradually reopens, it is time to rethink and reshape events that attract huge crowds. As you plan to reopen your facilities and host trade fairs and exhibitions, it is important to ensure that your facility is safe for occupancy. Location tracking technology will make it possible for you to automate event services from automatic check-ins, navigation, asset tracking, and contact tracing. Contact us today for more information on how to deploy indoor location services in your facility.
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For indoor wayfinding and similar purposes, the installation process can be complicated, but mostly requires a beacon-based structure that can interface with user devices to provide a seamless and safe experience.


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In our last post, we talked about gateway and access point-based infrastructure, which is one of the two overall categories most installations fall under. The second category is beacon-based infrastructure. Each of these categories is aimed at different solutions and contexts, and requires a different approach to installation and use. You will need to choose the best infrastructure for your solution and project.
The essential difference is that in a gateway-based project, each asset is affixed with a beacon or tag, which then connects to a gateway that can be accessed using an application or specific hardware. Gateway based projects are used primarily for asset and employee tracking.
Beacon-based infrastructure, however, uses mobile phones to provide users with wayfinding information and location-specific contact that can be used for providing enhanced customer experience. Phones connect only to the beacon, keeping them separate from your local network and protecting the privacy of users. This makes the infrastructure ideal for public-based wayfinding applications.

How Does Beacon-Based Infrastructure Work?

Beacon-based infrastructure relies on the fact that all modern mobile phones have Bluetooth and are designed to work with location services. Thus, the user's phone becomes the hardware needed to access the system. The user is required to download an indoor wayfinding app, which should be made available through the Apple Store and Google Play. 
The app then uses the phone's built-in Bluetooth to triangulate to beacons set up throughout your property. This provides the user with location-based content and indoor navigation and wayfinding. Standard phone location services will not work indoors and often lack the granularity needed to, for example, determine which exact gallery in an art museum the user is in. The app will thus include the indoor map, wayfinding ability, and a way to access location-based content. Visitor Wi-fi can be used to assist users in accessing content.
The phone can either upload its location to the cloud or keep it private. You can also program specific beacon units to trigger features on the phones. For example, you can have the phone notify users of a hotel amenity as they approach it. As the phones do all the calculations for wayfinding and route optimization (based off of past users), the beacons need little power, extending their lives.

How is the System Designed and Deployed?

The system consists of smart beacons placed in various locations through the building, generally on walls, an app that is downloaded onto the user's phone, and location services and content pushed from the cloud. Data from phones should only be collected if the use case requires it, such as for visitor tracking in a hospital. 
The initial design is thus based on the use case and the floor plan. The design for a museum, where the app is used to provide extra information or accessibility features such as audio signage may be quite different from an app used to help visitors navigate a large hospital and find their way to the patient or provider they are visiting.
The design process needs to include:

Throughout the entire installation process, the specific use case needs to be kept in mind and best practices should be followed for deploying beacons.

Best Practices for Beacon Placement

Beacon placement needs to follow a plan and should never be randomly done. Getting full coverage requires knowing your needs and floor plan. You also need to choose the right beacon for your case and beacons should be configured off-site to save time. You should also:

The floor plan should be made available to anyone working on beacon placement, as installers may detect problems that you initially missed. In addition, you should use the right mounting type for various beacons. For example, if beacons may need to be moved, then you can use velcro or double-sided tape to secure them. Other mounting types include plastic or metal zip ties and screws for permanent attachment. Wearable beacons might be used if you have employees that users may need to find, such as a concierge or on-duty doctor.
Deployment types include:

For many projects, a mixed deployment type is the best, but some sites may find that only point-based is sufficient.

Steps for Delivering a Good Project

To deliver the right infrastructure for yourself or a client, you need to follow certain best practices. For clients, start off with a business and technical workshop to go over their plans and establish what the use case actually is. Sometimes they may not know their own needs in detail without going over them with you. You should do your own site survey rather than relying on the client.
For projects that use wayfinding or content delivery, integration with existing Wi-Fi is key, and there needs to be Wi-Fi available to users. For most businesses, this means setting up a separate public-facing network to ensure security. In most buildings, cell phone coverage can be shaky and Wi-Fi is needed to download maps and content. Make sure that Wi-Fi signals are available throughout the site both for users and for the beacons themselves. Additional routers may be needed to properly support this.
Both the cellphone app to be provided to visitors and any software needed by employees need to be properly configured and tested. The visitor app should be tested across multiple devices including older or budget phones; accessibility questions can arise if not all devices can run the app. Employees need to be trained in the use of the app so they can assist visitors, and good documentation should be provided. (For accessibility reasons, the app should not be the only source of a floor plan in public-facing buildings). Handoff should only occur after all of the testing has been done to make sure the deployment meets the client's needs and the app functions as intended.
Coverage should be tested by doing walkthroughs. Visitors should not have to raise their phone or move to get a good signal. For point-based deployment, make sure beacons are not so close together that the signals overlap, resulting in incorrect content being served.
Properly installing a beacon-based real time location system requires an understanding of both the specific use case and the site. There are no standard installs or shortcuts, although there are app engines that can be used to shorten the process of software development. The system has to be fully tested so that all users have access to it and implemented correctly to ensure full coverage.
Kontakt.io has the expertise needed to help you through the complex process of installing beacon-based systems. We have already done it many times, and we know exactly what systems and services are needed for different use cases. All you need to start is to contact us for a starter kit and to discuss your needs.

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In today's world, the constant advancements in technology help to add a whole new level of convenience and efficiency into our everyday lives. For years, many companies have been utilizing the new technology to make their offices run more smoothly. But office buildings are not the only ones that can benefit from using advanced technology in the workplace. In fact, malls and museums were the first to update the Internet of Things (IoT). These public venues found that by incorporating these technologies into their establishment, they were able to create an overall better customer experience. Here’s how you can use Bluetooth to create smart buildings and improve the quality of your business.

Now that technology has helped to create "smart cars" and "smart homes", many people have come to expect a certain level of convenience in their daily lives. Turning buildings into "smart buildings" is becoming a must especially when we think of office buildings. Many public venues have already started using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to enhance their visitor's experience. By simply installing Bluetooth beacons into your public space, you will be able to create a more convenient and engaging environment for both your visitors and your employees. 

Improving Employees and Visitors Experience

Because technology is so widely used today, most guests that visit a public venue will have a certain level of expectations before they even step foot inside of the building. In fact, we are living in a world where a large number of children and teenagers have had technology at their disposal for their entire lives. Because of this, the majority of guests that visit any public space expect there to be some sort of technological component set up to make their visit more convenient. This includes the ability to navigate their way through a public building with ease.
By creating smart buildings and implementing Bluetooth beacons into a public venue, you will be able to easily provide your guests with a clear and efficient route to their destination with a familiar and convenient form of technology.

The Benefits of Smart Buildings

With Bluetooth technology in smart buildings, your visitors will no longer have to stand in long lines or create entrance-blocking crowds. Beacons that are placed near the entrance detect when a visitor is approaching the venue. It can then use the visitor's smartphone to check them into the venue and the guests can even pay for the visit without ever having to take their wallet out. This helps to eliminate long lines at the entrance and can even eliminate manual ticketing completely. The same system can also be used at certain events within the establishments and other areas like the gift shop or cafeteria. 
When Bluetooth beacons are used in an indoor venue, they are able to help visitors to become better acquainted with the facility at their own pace. Beacons can be used to send information to the visitor's phone to give them a more personalized experience. For example, many museums use these beacons to notify their guests of any upcoming lectures or events. They can also detect where the visitor is in the museum and send them information about the specific exhibit that they are currently looking at. This allows every guest to receive a personalized tour of the venue at the same time, which allows them the freedom to explore the museum in their own way.
Click here to download our ‘Indoor Navigation with Bluetooth Beacons’ white paper >

Give Visitors a Personalized Experience

When Bluetooth beacons are used in an indoor venue, they are able to help visitors to become better acquainted with the facility at their own pace. Beacons can be used to send information to the visitor's phone to give them a more personalized experience. For example, many museums use these beacons to notify their guests of any upcoming lectures or events. They can also detect where the visitor is in the museum and send them information about the specific exhibit that they are currently looking at. This allows every guest to receive a personalized tour of the venue at the same time, which allows them the freedom to explore the museum in their own way.

Increase Revenue

Enhancing the customer experience in smart building goes beyond providing conveniences to boosting the bottom line of many operations. The return on experience (ROX) is directly connected to an increase in ROI. Having beacons in your venue/building has the ability to increase your ROI. Beacons can sense when a patron is in the area at a nearby restaurant or store. Once known users have been recognized, the system can automatically send push notifications to their phone to notify them of upcoming events or special offers. But over the longer term, better customer or visitor relationships mean more return visits and a greater likelihood of being recommended to others. In today’s marketplace, it’s the experience that drives value for both guest and host. 
Another way to increase revenue is by sending the visitor information or offers based on where they spent the largest amount of time at the venue. For example, some museums will use their Bluetooth solutions to see which exhibit their guests spend the most time at. Then, they will send a notification to the visitor's phone to let them know about any upcoming events that are related to the exhibit or any related items that they sell in the gift shop. Again, the better the experience, the deeper the relationship can go.

Real-time visibility into staff and visitor location

Public places that have deployed beacons are not only able to improve efficiency, but they can also improve the safety of visitors and the staff.
Nobody likes to get lost in a crowded venue. Trying to find your way through a large building can be both confusing and a waste of time. Because of this, places like large shopping malls and airports use geofencing systems to help guide their visitors to their destination with turn-by-turn instructions. This helps them to stay on the right path to where they are going without having to stop and ask for directions.
Bluetooth also lets you monitor the well-being and safety of employees. In case of an emergency, employers can easily locate staff and see who is in the safety zones and who is not. This will help increase efficiency and decrease the amount of time it takes to ensure that everyone is protected and safe. 

Employee Productivity

BLE helps management to oversee production on a broader scale. With Bluetooth, employers can easily monitor aspects of the business that need to be improved upon, which can help the venue's overall operations run more efficiently.
Not only is this technology for smart buildings great for improving the customer experience, but it can also help the business side of your venue as well. When you use a BLE system for your company, you will be able to:

Bluetooth technology can use beacons to help simplify asset tracking. Instead of spending time on searching for an asset, that time can be directed towards productive activities. Wasting valuable time on anything that doesn’t contribute to the efficient operation of the organization negatively impacts the bottom line. Asset tracking capabilities help you to keep wasted time to a minimum. Also, this technology can help you to better monitor productivity within the company and use real-time data to see in what areas of production are the slowest. By identifying the problem areas, you will be better able to see how your facility and equipment is being used productively and what equipment may be causing bottlenecks.

Improve Efficiency

When public areas provide indoor navigation through Bluetooth technologies to create smart buildings, they are able to increase efficiency for their guests and their staff. With this technology, visitors are able to simply look at their phone, see all of the points of interest that the building has, pick which one they want to go to, and then find the easiest and quickest way to get there. This not only helps the guest to have a more enjoyable and efficient visit, but it also allows the staff to focus on more important aspects of the business instead of having to give directions to several different visitors.

Control Asset Management 

With Bluetooth, management will also be able to look at both real-time and historical data to come up with better asset control solutions. By seeing what assets are used regularly and what assets are not used very much, management will then be able to purchase those assets based on how much they are needed, which will lower the overall asset costs by ensuring that money is well spent.

Eliminate Job-Clocking Mistakes

Beacons can also be used to monitor your employees when they are at work. No longer will they have to fill out an old-fashioned timesheet or worry about whether they properly clocked in or clocked out. With beacons, the system will automatically get an update when the employee comes and goes, which will also help employees keep better track of how many hours they have worked in a week. 

Reduce Emergency Response Times

BLE can also use geofencing technology to ensure that there are no security breaches within the establishment. With this type of technology, the beacons are able to detect when someone has entered a restricted area. The geofence is able to alert employees and management when someone has entered or exited an unauthorized area, which helps the employees ensure that only authorized personnel have entered these areas. If there is a security breach, many employees can be alerted simultaneously, which will allow the closest employee to investigate the breach, which could help to reduce the response time.
 
We are here to help your business run more efficiently. By implementing Bluetooth technologies to create smart buildings, your business will flourish. Whether you are looking for a complete solution, or a reliable beacon and infrastructure vendor, kontakt.io is your expert to help.
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We’ve written before about how Real Time Location Services (RTLS) and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity have applications in many spaces and verticals that might surprise anyone who still thinks they belong in factories, industrial spaces and warehouses. 


NBIoT, UWB, BLE or RFID? 
Download our guide to learn which technology will fit your asset tracking needs.


Airports have been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to applying automation, IoT, digital transformation and more. Recent years have also seen the adoption of processes powered by location data gathered from RTLS. With so many different use cases under one very big roof, it’s no surprise that airports are increasingly turning to location data to support various components of their operations, creating efficiencies that are fundamental to the profitability of any enterprise. 
Although the passengers passing through may not think of it in these terms, airports are operated as a business and questions of costs and efficiency are of primary concern to airport management. As an often very large and always complex operation, airports feature many processes and use cases that are ideally suited to the strengths and functionalities of systems that collect location-based data. The application of this data to various processes in airports brings efficiencies and improvements that only results from better visibility into the movements of people and things. 
Here are four areas where the implementation of RTLS in airports delivers immediate business benefits. 

Wayfinding

It’s hard to think of another environment more appropriate for wayfinding applications than an airport. A complex space with lots of turns, levels and destinations spread out over an enormous space? Check. Lots of first-time visitors who are unfamiliar with the layout? Check. People with little time or desire to stop and look at a map? Nearly every one of those people with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones ready to connect? Stressful situations where sometimes every second counts? Check, check and check. 
Wayfinding gets people where they need to go quickly and easily, which addresses the most obvious pain point experienced by millions of travelers every day in airports around the world. No matter how convinced you are that your airport is easy to navigate, you can be sure that, probably right at this very moment, someone with time, mobility or language issues is looking around and thinking “I need help and I need it now”. 
Using location data, you can build applications that guide passengers to their destinations, making their experience in your facility more satisfying and less stressful. As they move around terminals, shopping or dining areas or any other part of the building, passengers can get real-time updates on their progress towards their gate, nearby amenities or anything else. With wayfinding, even first-time visitors can feel relaxed and comfortable in looking around (and possibly making purchases) if they have time to kill or confident they can make their flight in time because the wayfinding application tells them how far away they are from where they need to be. Either way, wayfinding based on location data provided by RTLS guides visitors through an unfamiliar and complex environment, significantly adding to their overall experience and reinforcing a positive impression of the time they spend there before moving on. 
Think of wayfinding as part of the kind of customer satisfaction that a more conventional, retail-oriented business would be concerned with. These days, with near universal smartphone penetration among airport passengers, a smooth, trouble-free and usually phone-based experience is more expectation than surprising extra for airports. There’s no difference between customers and passengers in this context and making it easy for them to find their way around is key to getting the good reviews, repeat business and recommendations that impact the bottom line of any enterprise—store, airport or anything else. 
Click here to download our ‘Indoor Navigation with Bluetooth Beacons’ white paper >

Asset tracking and location 

Airports are filled with thousands of passengers and personnel. They contain a number of unique and distinct environments, each with their own routines, supplies, equipment, procedures and regulations. There are tons of cargo and equipment in areas all over the facility. Nearly around the clock, it seems that everyone and everything is moving in all directions at once. All of this adds up to a bewildering combination of assets that move around both wide open spaces and dense, crowded environments. There are high-value pieces of machinery that are rarely used and relatively inexpensive items that are in constant demand. The use of some of them is documented and tracked while others tools and equipment are just assumed to be handy when needed. 
It just takes a moment for all these moving parts to scatter and reassemble in new configurations, making it easy to lose track of the tools, machines and other assets that keep operations moving forward. And when these moving parts are unavailable, even for a short period, the loss in time, money and efficiency can be significant. 
Unfortunately, the airport environment is ideal for losing track of assets of every size and type. And when you need, for example, a wheelchair now, there’s no time to waste searching and asking and trying to track one down. Instead, wouldn’t it just be easier to check a screen and find out right away?
Of course it would. With the information provided by location data, you can immediately determine where any tagged asset is. With RTLS data, you can start your search knowing exactly where and how far you have to go to find a wheelchair, luggage trolley or any one of the hundreds of other items that are easily misplaced in an airport. 
The scale of the airport environment isn’t a problem, either. Collectively, sensors located throughout the facility can track the location and movement of thousands of assets in real time. 
RTLS-based monitoring works indoors and outdoors, which is especially relevant to airports given the number of workspaces that are spread out over both kinds of areas. There are lots of tools and pieces of equipment that are stored in, for example, a warehouse or hangar but are used and left idle on tarmacs. Location tracking does not interfere with the use of the tools in anyway and their presence can be determined as long as they are within the range of a sensor. Should it be necessary to expand that range for any reason, it’s as easy as adding more sensor coverage. 
Asset tracking impacts an airport’s bottom line by delivering accurate visibility into current inventories. Are you short-handed on a particular item or category or are you not using what you have efficiently? If you really do need to invest in more assets of a certain type, how many do you really need? These are the kinds of questions that are more easily answered when you can track what you have, locate it when you need it and avoid capital investments of all kinds being lost in the many back rooms and high shelves of an enormous airport. Overspending on unnecessary inventory can be eliminated with smarter decisions informed by location data. 

Tracking staff arrival, departure and location

Like manufacturing facilities, airports can employ a huge number of personnel working over large areas in shifts starting at all times of the day and night and who enter and exit through multiple points. There are lots of opportunities for manual timekeeping and conventional time clock measurements to fail through human error or theft of time. 
With easily-carried personalized tags, the arrival and departure times of staff can be precisely recorded and saved via RTLS. The moment they are within or out of range of a sensor, that event is instantly saved, creating a completely accurate and reliable record of their presence on site. There’s no need for time cards and no need to remind staff to clock in or out. Given the size of the staff in airports, even a small percentage of forgotten or missed time clock punches can scale up to a big problem. Investigating and correcting missing times is an administrative burden and a potentially costly source of wasted time and resources. With the complete automation made possible by location data, the accuracy of your record keeping goes up while costs and headache go way down.
The same functionality also tells you where any given employee is at any moment, at least within a certain small distance. This can be useful in any number of contexts, from locating them when other forms of communication are ineffective to counting nearby team members to help an understaffed location or ensuring that everyone has been cleared out during an emergency evacuation. 


Bluetooth is big, but small platforms are catching up

When we talk about the applications of RTLS technology, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer for every deployment. The physical areas to be covered vary greatly in their sizes, shapes and environmental factors. The use cases and needs differ, as do the kinds of hardware appropriate for a particular deployment. This variation also increasingly applies to the technology platform that delivers the location data that is turned into business benefits. 
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) has established itself as the leader in this field due to its ideal combination of features, including signal stability, extreme energy efficiency and easy integration with the existing worldwide Bluetooth ecosystem, among other things. However, there are several other technologies that are gaining ground in the world of RTLS because of unique characteristics that are well-matched to particular location data use cases. 
In particular, Ultra Wide Band (UWB) and Narrow Band Internet of Things (NBIoT) are becoming the platforms of choice for deployments that need to leverage their particular strengths. Both platforms offer extreme energy efficiency while separately providing functionalities that far exceed the performance of BLE in certain areas like secure data transmission, the size of the data packets delivered, number of connections handled at once, integration into cellular networks and more. Will either of these platforms overtake BLE as the industry’s dominant standard? Only time will tell, but it’s worth learning something about multiple platforms when considering what you need your RTLS deployment to do. 
To learn more about these and other technologies, download Kontakt.io’s Essential Guide to Asset Tracking Solutions


Safety and Security 

Controlling and recording access to various areas in an airport is fundamental to its operations. Airports are full of zones that are restricted for a number of reasons and security considerations are particularly sensitive. Add multiple layers of government-imposed regulations and the need for a reliable, facility-wide system for managing access is clear. 
With RLTS, not only can management of regulating access to certain areas of a facility be automated, but the time of every entry and exit, along with the identity of the staff member, can be accurately recorded and archived. While measures like cameras and security staff are not likely to be fully replaced, location data-based systems can provide a level of reach and reliability unequalled by other components of a comprehensive security network. 
Safety is a related but distinct idea to security. It also involves regulating access to certain areas but concentrates more on making sure that only authorized personnel are allowed into areas with environmental hazards. With its machinery, vehicles and complex processes at work behind the scenes, providing safe working conditions for airport employees is a real challenge. Incidents can be reduced when unauthorized staff are denied entry into zones where they are not qualified to be. When accidents do happen, RTLS can provide documentation important to the legal aspects of the resolution of accidents. 
What about when someone does enter a room, zone or even building where they shouldn’t be? Again, RTLS is there to help. The system can be set to send instant alerts to the relevant office, team or individual when there is a breach of the security or safety protocols, giving them time to react and possibly prevent injury or loss. When invisible lines are crossed, RTLS can react in real time and help to stop trouble before it starts. 
This extends beyond staff and personnel to assets. When tagged, assets can set off an alert when they are taken beyond predefined borders. The opportunities for preventing loss through theft or misuse are clear. 

Here are some of the main business benefits of using RTLS for safety and security in airports:

This is just a general overview of some of the more useful applications of RTLS in airports. If you would like more detailed information or looking for an end to end RTLS solution make sure to contact us today.
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Poor wayfinding solutions and lost patients can cost a hospital thousands of dollars annually. Patients and staff need better options.
get your free guide to indoor navigation with bluetooth beacons
The typical NHS hospital will have about 5,000 staff members. Many of these people will work in a set space and know their close surroundings very well. However, few of them will know the entire hospital and grounds. While some permanent doctors will come to know the area fairly well, there are many junior staff members and those from other hospitals or school who will never know more than a few halls. And that’s just the staff.
Patients in a hospital are even more likely to have issues with navigation, and that’s costing hospitals money. In the case of Emory University’s now famous self-study, poor wayfinding solutions and lost patients were costing Emory University Hospital $220,000 annually.

Healthcare wayfinding affects bottom line

The last time you had a planned appointment in a hospital, did you receive a reminder the day before? This is rather common practice in order to make sure patients come in on time and ready. Hospital visits are expensive—not just for the patient but for the hospital. The seemingly small cost associated with a single missed appointment quickly adds up, easily costing a hospital hundreds to thousands of dollars.

“Data from 2013 suggests that around 6.9m outpatient hospital appointments, each costing an average of £108, are missed each year in the UK.”
The Guardian

Current hospital wayfinding solutions

When you visit any given hospital, there are likely to be several ways to navigate and find your destination. Most common, and the first line of defense against confused patients and staff, are physical signs. However, beyond that, solutions can vary wildly. Many hospitals will have maps online for patients to view and even print before visiting. Others will have standing maps, digital maps, help desks, and apps.
Most likely, your local hospital will have numerous wayfinding methods available to help patients, visitors, and even staff. However, almost all of the above, traditional methods of indoor navigation in hospitals relies on a static map or, at best, in-person direction. There are few solutions offering real-time or turn-by-turn directions. While GPS can help a patient locate the correct building, it won’t help anyone find a specific hall or office.
compare wifi, bluetooth and competing technologies in indoor navigation

Time and resource waste

How much is a hospital staff member’s time worth? Emory University also wanted to know how much time staff members spent assisting in wayfinding—i.e. offering directions. They found staff members—including doctors and nurses—would spend over 4,500 hours per year giving directions to visitors. That’s two full-time positions worth of just giving directions. And The Magazine reported on an overhaul at the Children’s Hospital of Boston that installed 15,000 new signs on their premises.
The importance of hospital signage is no joke. Each year, hospitals will be updating or revamping old signs across huge buildings with numerous wings. It's unlikely physical signage will be done away with in hospitals any time soon. However, moving as much as possible to the digital can decrease reliance on and the costs of signage. Digital maps are easy to change and instantly updated. They can also include far more information than physical signs. That can include numerous languages, descriptions, or other directions that simply can't fit on a wall.

Beacons build successful healthcare wayfinding solution

There’s no doubt that hospital wayfinding will continue to be complex and require many different solutions to appeal to all users. Though elderly patients being less likely turn to a smart phone, visitors and patients are increasingly technology-oriented. That’s one reason many providers are turning to new technological solutions to solve the same age-old problems while saving time and money.
Bluetooth beacons are increasingly common in hospital settings, and one of their most common use cases in the vertical is indoor navigation. Beacons add one special ingredient to any hospital app: proximity data. Rather than simply offering a one-size-fits-all map of the entire campus, proximity data can support active, real-time navigation. Now, that user need only follow step-by-step directions to find an office or other point-of-interest.
The results of beacon-powered healthcare wayfinding is much more nuanced than simply providing a better experience. Beacons are by nature very simple tools that are relatively easy to install and integrate into an app.
When handled carefully, beacons can provide numerous benefits:

discover other beacon-based solutions related to patient satisfaction

Where can you find beacons in hospitals?

Beacons are already integrated in hospitals around the world, and the infographic above shows only a few of the locations in which you can find them. Here's just a few of the place you can find Kontakt.io beacons being used for healthcare wayfinding right now.

How do beacons work in healthcare wayfinding?

You’ve opened up your healthcare app. What happens next? For hospital navigation, apps usually offer many of the same options and experiences. In general, it operates much like Google Maps. Input your goal and just press go. The app should automatically find and show your position within the hospital. Then, it can find the fast way to your destination and show the route. It will even update as you travel, showing pictures of your starting point or a point-of-interest, and giving you turn-by-turn directions to make sure you don’t get lost. Should you take the wrong turn, another beacon will provide the data needed for the app to immediately recognize the mistake and update the directions.

[Video: 170 beacons add wayfinding capabilities to 15,000 square meter Riviera-Chablais Hospital in Switzerland]


Learn more about indoor navigation with Bluetooth beacons. Click here to download a free white paper.

What makes an indoor navigation project or partnership successful? We talked to 10 top solution providers in the space to find out.
This list is particularly helpful for solution providers looking to make sure their next project is a hit. However, it can also help business owners and managers looking into indoor navigation projects better understand what to expect.


Download a free Indoor Navigation Solutions white paper and understand Bluetooth beacons and their real-world wayfinding use cases.


“Thinking of accessibility from day one was our main priority. The main lesson is to design with all users in mind and get the UX right from the get-go."

"In our deployments such as with Harrods, we have multiple routing options. For example, the ability to choose only pathways that use elevators instead of staircases or escalators. In addition to that, we believe in partnerships and have been investing in merging our tech with binaural audio systems to help visually impaired passengers independently navigate train stations and airports.”

"Ximity's first major beacon deployment was at a 70,000 square meter convention center in Manila, Philippines. With a feature set that includes proximity marketing, indoor navigation, and gamification, one would think that software development would be the most challenging aspect of the project."

“However, we realized that beacon deployment strategy — figuring out the correct placement and configuration for each beacon — was equally time-consuming and required careful planning. Conveniently, Kontakt provides a great starting point through their knowledge base, and their online dashboard and mobile application were the perfect tools to calibrate our beacons on-site.”

"It isn’t always enough to create a great product. Implementing it in a way that drives results requires foresight and understanding. Consider making the following part of your core work:

Learn how does beacon-powered indoor navigation work in practice

"The less accuracy is required, the more reliably the system will work and you can do so with fewer beacons."

“For example, sometimes room-level detection is enough for the concept to work. One of our main challenges is that in museums, you can’t just place beacons anywhere you like, but often must be placed out of sight. To be able to create an infrastructure that still works within these constraints, it's really important you know how a beacon signal works. Often you'll encounter situations where the beacon infrastructure still has some issues, to solve them the right tooling is really important.
“The right tooling gives insight in how strong all signals are actually measured, and based on this information you can accurately fine-tune your infrastructure, whereas without this information you'd be only guessing and hoping your changes will work.”

"There is great importance in laying out a concrete deployment plan in advance and agreeing on the responsibilities of each party before the actual installation day. We have seen some bad situations occur because of a lack of communication."

"Also, an uneven distribution of beacons in the venue could be another source of problems including serious issues for some types of positioning algorithms. This is why we focused so hard on our fingerprinting methods."

"One of our biggest learnings is that projects can only be realized when a real Return on Investment is identified. Otherwise, even though it may be an interesting use case, chances are high that the project won’t be funded."

"In cases such as our High Point Market project deployment, indoor positioning is able to add significant value to the venue and event for all involved parties - visitors are easily able to find their way around, buyers can increase traffic to their booth, and event managers are able to obtain valuable analytical location data. Lots of time and money can be saved, experiences improved, and data analyzed for future optimizations. Use cases like this are clearly backed by a substantial ROI."

"Installing an IPS can be difficult in certain settings. For example, at trade fairs, you have to deal with short set-up periods which requires precise planning and consultations beforehand. When installing beacons in a space with lots of Wi-Fi signals, you have to pay attention to avoid interferences by not using the same channels which is tricky, as exhibitors are often configuring networks as they like."

"Also, you have to take attenuation properties of different materials into account during installation and parameterization (e.g. wood or glass with low attenuation properties as opposed to metal or water with high attenuation properties)."

"First of all, educating clients is our first aim. The knowledge of beacon technology is still not fully understood. Before any deployment, we take time with our clients and explain beacon technology to them and how it will affect their business."

"The bigger the venues are, the bigger navigation becomes a major problem. High numbers of points of interest creates an increased need for a deeply professional solution. At such a point, we rely heavily on the experience of our team."

"Due to the many annexes and departments being built over the years, hospitals can become real labyrinths."

"When we developed our technology at the Monthey Hospital, the hospital decided to use our technology to remove concerns about patients getting lost. We had to make specific modifications to our solution in order to meet the expectations and constraints of the hospital world. For example, we needed to add pictures of places to help navigate and reassure patients as they move. This is just one example of the many ways you must always be ready to adapt."

"Adoption takes time."

"This comes down to two factors. Firstly, there is often a long bureaucratic process in large companies. Secondly, there is a willingness to innovate, but there is also hesitation due to misconceptions about indoor navigation technology. We must work to shift this perception."

GPS changed the way we think about moving. Now, with navigation available on our smartphones, we’re able to take maps with us almost everywhere we go. This is a welcome change as modern users are often very busy, constantly running from one place to the other. However, for all the good GPS does in outdoor navigation, it does little for users indoors in a smaller space. That’s why companies are turning to beacons to change indoor navigation.
get the Comparison of wayfinding with different technologies
The numbers: real world wayfinding stats
Of course, it's not just a vague interest in wayfinding that's driving change--it's real investments. Solution providers and businesses know that navigation will benefit their users. That's why we'll be seeing more investment in the field as well as more results. In fact, analysts expect the global Indoor Positioning and Indoor Navigation (IPIN) market to grow at a CAGR of 58.90% from 2017 to 2021. Or, as this study from Technavio puts it: the global indoor positioning and indoor navigation market will grow to USD 7.8 billion by 2021.

We have GPS! Who needs indoor wayfinding?

The benefits of indoor navigation are huge and diverse. First, it enhances customer experience. Never again should a customer be forced to wander around a huge mall looking for a particular store. Users shouldn’t waste time just finding a place. That part should be easy!
Second, better wayfinding increases efficiency for both employees and businesses. With more users able to find the desired location there could be an opportunity for increased sales and more interactions. Of course, by giving employees indoor navigation abilities (especially real-time based indoor navigation), businesses can optimize every step of their employee's day. Employees can now know the shortest route from their far-off, random location to a specific container in a warehouse. A doctor can find their next patient in a snap without having to think twice. In short, there will be no more guesswork and much more efficiency.
Common searches

Moreover, every vertical can benefit from indoor navigation with beacons. Retail, healthcare, manufacturing all benefit.--even gyms and zoos, schools and anywhere else you move.
get the Comparison of wayfinding with different technologies

What's the tech? Why is BLE different?

When it comes to indoor navigation, there are multiple ways to find your way around a space. However, what first comes to mind are tools like QR and NFC. With these technologies, it’s easy: you scan the code and then immediately know where you are. But there’s also a problem. This is passive technology. Users have to actively interact with each and every code (not to mention, find the codes in the first place).
Imagine having to locate and scan a new barcode every time you wanted to know your location. That's passive wayfinding. It's a very affordable solution--but not a very practical one for most users.

So what about active solutions? Active solutions are able to communicate with phones at a greater distance. This means, when you walk into a room, your phone already knows exactly where you are—no scanning required. Sounds useful, doesn’t it? So why don't you have this in your local cafe, favorite store, or nearest airport?
There’s a very good reason that these solutions aren’t yet common practice. In short, the technology wasn’t readily available until recently. WiFi-based indoor navigation systems, or other, more precise systems, come with a large price tag. This high cost has deterred most businesses from ever investing. Beacon navigation, on the other hand, is notably affordable, and, since it's introduction in 2013, it's only getting stronger.

Here's how it works.

Most commonly, the space owner (whether it's a hospital operator or your office manager) will install a relatively small number of beacons. For example, one for each room or general area. These are small devices roughly the size of a golf ball. When you walk into or approach a room, an associated app will use the broadcasted beacon information to find your location on the map.
That all happens in real-time. That means, instead of simply showing you a static map, the app can give you a blue dot location describing exactly where you are. It could even be programmed to give you turn-by-turn directions to your destination. If you're looking for a specific room in a large hospital or searching for the bathrooms in a big mall, that blue dot means instant and actionable location data.
But it doesn't stop there. This "real-time" capability is a big deal for managers. Depending on the particular situation, there are a number of actions managers can take to use navigation. They can create new revenue streams, analyze visitor movements and needs, or offer new options.
Here are just a few examples.

download the Indoor Navigation white paper
What about your data?
Maybe it all sounds great to you. You're sold on active navigation. But isn't that a lot of personal information? It's important that modern mobile users fully understand that Bluetooth beacons do not store any data on anyone. They couldn't even if they tried. However, those apps that use beacons may be storing movement data.
Most often, this data is used to optimize processes. That means, just because you use an app to find your way around a cruise ship, doesn't mean you should be receiving any messages outside of that app and the company shouldn't be storing any sensitive information. What managers want to know is how their users move. Do people your age and demographic tend toward a certain path? How can managers make your experience better? In the end, data is generally stripped of anything unique or defining. Thus, your search for the hospital bathroom at 2AM won't be forever recorded as a valuable data point. The movement may be part of one bundle of vague data points in a sea of millions that tells managers a little about their visitors overall movements.

Where can you find beacon navigation solutions in the real world?

Indoor navigation is one of the more popular uses of beacon technology available—likely because of how many people and verticals that can benefit from it. That’s why we wrote up a complete report on it. Including dozens of real-world use cases and interviews with top names in the field, this white paper should be a solid introduction for anyone interested in indoor navigation with beacons.

Here are some of our favorite indoor navigation use cases
Ribera del Duero
The entire tourism industry relies on visitors being able to find the right location with ease, yet one key pain points for tourists is simply finding their way on a daily basis. In 2015, a project was implemented at the famous Spanish wine route, Ribera del Duero, to help tourists get around the area. Beacons helped users answer questions like “where am I?” or “what am I looking at?”
This new communication campaign helped grow the number of visitors from 83,000 visitors in 2010 to 269,000 in 2015. Not to mention, this also meant millions of euros in extra annual revenue and the creation of several jobs in Ribera del Duero.
City of Wellington
Sometimes, it’s not enough to have just a few shops here and there beaconized. For the city of Wellington, wayfinding with beacons meant giving new opportunities to vision-impaired residents. In a great case of “go big or go home,” the city decided to set beacons all over town. Backed by the Wellington City Council, the project deployed 200 beacons in the central business district.
The deployment was praised by the city’s mayor as “a first for New Zealand and will build Wellington’s reputation as a smart and accessible destination” and “will welcome people with visual impairments to participate fully in the life of the city.”
University of Lodz
The University of Lodz installed beacons across 38 buildings and dormitories to help 1,200 international students find their way around. the spring semester of 2015. When a student passes a beacon, they trigger information about where they are, what they can do there, and how to get to common destinations. Though international students were the initial driver of this campaign, wayfinding around university areas, libraries, and facilities benefits parents and ordinary students as well.

How can you build a powerful indoor navigation app?

We talked to a dozen solution providers to get their best tips on building an indoor navigation solution. Interestingly, the problems they faced were seldom related to the technology. Beacons and algorithms largely function as expected. The biggest problems were related to business models and implementations.

You can get the complete breakdown in our white paper below.


Learn more about indoor navigation with Bluetooth beacons. Click here to download a free white paper.

So where should I put these?
This is a thought many people have after opening their first box of beacons. The truth is, your deployment strategy will depend on what you want to achieve.
Each approach to beacon deployment has its own pros and cons. Ideally, it will match with your objectives without limiting the scope of your project or making it too expensive.
A clear understanding of your objectives is the first and the most important stage of beacon deployment. Without this, the whole installation process can become a mess.
This is why, as a leading beacon infrastructure provider, we’d like to share with you some insights into the most common deployment approaches, and explain how they relate to the objectives of your installation.

Point-Based beacon deployment

At Kontakt.io we generally distinguish between two types of deployment: Point-Based and Grid-Based. The one you choose will depend on what you want your beacons to do.
Let’s first talk about the Point-Based as it’s the easier of the two. You will use it when your primary goal is to make certain objects in your facility interactive and context-rich.
It’s a piece of cake: you just mount the beacon at the specific Point of Interest; match it with the information you want to trigger in your app; choose the radius within which you wish the app to activate; voilà - you have your beacon solution.

Now people walking around your venue will receive notifications when reaching that specific object or a location. You decide what they will learn about it or how their journey will continue: with some guidance/directions from an app or without.
You can use very few beacons to build various exciting solutions with a Point-Based deployment. With a maximum range of 70 meters, Kontakt.io beacons can cover a very big area.

Grid-Based deployment

Point-Based deployment is quite easy to implement, but it does have some limitations. For example, it doesn’t allow you accurately to navigate your users through the venue, only give them directions or indicate their approximate location.
This is a problem if you are looking for insights about user behavior. Let’s say you want to analyze your customers’ journeys through your store. With Point-Based deployment, you can only detect when the user approaches a specific point. What happens in between remains a mystery.
But here comes the solution: Grid-Based deployment. But be aware, it’s trickier. You should use it if you want to:

It’s called Grid-Based for an obvious reason: instead of mounting beacons in specific locations, you need to arrange them in a grid that will perfectly span your area. To do this, you will need a detailed blueprint of your building, good engineering skills, a cup of coffee, and some beforehand planning.

It will also require an app (or an SDK) that has a trilateration or even a triangulation algorithm, which will help to determine the exact location of your user’s smartphone. This means that at any point your phone should detect at least two beacons.
Lastly, you will need to do some calibration after the deployment in order to determine if all your beacons’ signals are strong enough, working in harmony, and not interrupting each other.

Alternatives?

Although it’s more expensive and difficult to install, Grid-Based deployment can help you to do awesome things!
But what are your alternatives? What if you still want a decent navigation system, but don’t want to deal with complex trilateration?
Well, to make a workable solution you don’t always have to follow the most difficult path.
For example, you can set up something called a ‘Loose Grid’ deployment. In this case, you are still creating a grid, but a less dense one. Each beacon can cover a substantial area with a signal reaching the margins of the grid, but not overlapping. This way you can create a fairly accurate navigation build on proximity with fewer units or a sophisticated software.

The difference between this solution and the one based on triangulation is comparable to the distinction between GPS and the ‘you are here’ maps in shopping centers. The first will show your exact location at any point, the second will tell where you are approximately in relation to some specific point.  

POC(e) it with a stick

The conclusion? You need to decide on the objectives of your deployment before you deploy.
Our cheat sheet can help you to make this decision.
Scaling up from a Point-Based to a Grid-Based deployment might be a difficult and expensive task - it may even require the redesigning of your entire deployment.
This is why we recommended that you first test your idea on a smaller scale and make a Proof of Concept (POC).
To help you, we wrote a comprehensive guide on how to make your first POC.
Download it below!  

Download the Beacon POC Guide

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If you’ve ever attended a huge expo, you know that finding stands you’re interested in can be challenging, to say the least. Panorama Berlin, with over 20,000 square meters of exhibition space, 8 halls, and 600 brands, is definitely a huge event. It’s not that surprising, then, that when they enriched their app with a beacon-enabled feature that solved the problem of finding booths at the hall, 70% of its users immediately fell in love with it. Here’s what they did. (more…)

[Updated for 2020]
[Updated for 2020]