Asset Monitoring, Tracking, Analyzing: IoT Gets Better with Latest Beacon Tech

Just like RFID or WiFi tags, Bluetooth beacons, alone, do not provide asset monitoring, analysis or tracking services. They’re just small connectors sending radio waves to passing smart devices. They can, however, be leveraged to create tracking, analyzing, and monitoring opportunities. More importantly, beacon technology just got one major addition in the form of the “gateway.” This new tool promises to bring a new possibility, automation, to businesses and connected infrastructures at 1/5th the cost of other technologies. But how does it look in the field? How can verticals take full advantage of the latest technological developments to better utilize assets and resources?
What difference does a gateway make?
Now, there’s a gateway that connects ordinary beacons in the field to the cloud without the need for an intermediary program like an app. Beacons used in conjunction with the cutting edge beacon gateway technology power a system that automatically and digitally collects beacon information without the need for a user to physically use their phone or interact with beacons. The result is a far more reliable system for creating data sets as well as automating triggers and instant alerts.

Three real world Gateway use cases for three top verticals

  • Asset or employee monitoring
  • Data generation and analysis
  • Automated alerts and triggers has pioneered the Gateway, a new IoT tool that represents the hardware of a mobile-free connected infrastructure and works in conjunction with the Location Engine software. This platform takes data and information gathered from the beacons (funneled through the Gateway) and keeps it safe in the cloud. Moreover, this technology is easily implemented in other apps, allowing solution providers the chance to quickly and effectively add asset monitoring and other beacon capabilities to their existing offerings.
Why Bluetooth? Bluetooth costs up to 90% less than similar WiFi systems
WiFi-based apps and softwares offer the chance to follow a user or asset’s path. WiFi systems, however, are also very costly to maintain. This’s why Bluetooth beacons, an energy-efficient, low-cost technology, offer something unique to event planners.
Read more about other methods of tracking and infrastructure in our extensive RTLS white paper.

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Healthcare Asset Monitoring

Healthcare professionals and administrators are tasked with not only caring for patients and being on call but saving money and increasing efficiency.

Hospital costs continue to rise including the cost per hospital bed which has risen 90% to $3,144 in the past 15 years. Hospital assets and equipment have incredibly high monetary value.

Furthermore, their overall usefulness increases the faster they are used. In emergency or high-stress scenarios, healthcare professionals need access to the right equipment fast. That’s why technology firms are developing more accurate and affordable tracking technologies.
Asset monitoring fosters a sense of transparency that helps employees work faster and with greater success.
Proper asset monitoring can aid hospitals by:

  • Increasing equipment use rates
  • Decreasing wasted funds
  • Facilitating asset location
  • Expediting patient visits

How does asset monitoring work in healthcare?
For example, a nurse needs access to a particular piece of equipment. There are only a handful available in the entire hospital, and none are located in the office in which the patient is staying. The nurse leaves their patient to seek out the most likely storage location. The equipment, however, is not there, and there is no indication of where it is. The nurse must continue looking elsewhere. Meanwhile, the patient continues to wait, and all following patients must wait.
With an efficient RTLS system, this equipment would be found in a matter of seconds.
How does the Gateway-based system work in asset monitoring?
A Gateway-based system can be easily planned, tested, and installed. In the above scenario, the nurse could simply use an app connected to the Gateway through the API. The platform quickly accesses historical asset location data sent by Gateways to tell the nurse exactly in which room the equipment is located. Depending on the infrastructure, it can also be leveraged to tell the nurse where any other equipment, staff member or even particular patient is. The Location Engine collects data on beacon presence, location and dwell time as well as battery level and data from sensors. Each entry has a timestamp assigned to it, so there is almost an unlimited number of ways a developer can build up their solution.

Event Analytics Technology

Events are much more than just a series of booths and networking opportunities. Planners must begin by considering the physical layout of a venue, optimizing space, price, and the rental of different areas. There are two very distinct goals: pleasing visitors and increasing revenue. Existing beacon-based solutions for the event industry are already helping aid visitors with wayfinding and personalized promotions. Now, brand new beacon technology is helping solution providers equip event managers with data collection and conference and event analytics.
Data collection and event analytics enable planners to better organize venues, set rates, and drive returns.
Data collection enables event planners to:

  • Visualize foot traffic
  • Locate bottlenecks
  • Set rates for vendors
  • Quantify dwell times

Why do planners need data?
For example, by understanding what areas are the most popular in a conference, a planner is able to determine which zones should be considered prime real estate. This gives managers quantifiable evidence to support why a given area is more expensive while also ensuring those vendors who choose to set up in popular areas receive appropriate returns. Managers can even move food and beverage suppliers to more practical areas to keep visitors awake and engaged.
How does the Gateway-based system work in data analysis?
Instead of printing and handing out surveys, an event planner need only install beacons on their premises in order to collect meaningful data. This can be done either independently or through contractors specializing in beacon infrastructures and apps for event purposes. These solution providers install beacons in a venue and then use their own app or platform to analyze and use data. This platform can be easily created by leveraging the Location Engine API, which will directly link beacon data to your program.
Visitors equipped with beacons, likely a small, thin, model like the Card Beacon, generate data just by moving through the space. As a result, dwell times and other metrics can be easily analyzed. This data can be visualized through heatmaps, viewed over time, or any other method imagined by the provider.

Active Alerts for Logistics

Historically, the logistics industry has been quick to test and adapt new tracking technologies. RFID, barcodes, and QR have led to new opportunities for better tracking and record keeping—two key components for a reliable logistics operation. Efficient asset monitoring requires managers to be able to locate packages at any point in the supply chain and be quickly informed when changes occur. The aforementioned technologies excel at tracking when assets enter or exit an area; beyond this capability, however, they leave a series of information gaps. Creating a simultaneously thorough, affordable, and active overview of logistics operations is not quite possible with these technologies.
Knowing instantly that a package has been misplaced enables managers to fix problems before more develop.
How can BLE-based solutions fill that gap?
Bluetooth beacons are now bringing a much greater level of transparency to the industry through better tracking and automated alert capabilities.
[Tweet “Bluetooth technology is revolutionizing the IoT, and these changes will affect all industries.”]
Initial Bluetooth beacon use cases have been in asset tracking, but, with the introduction of more developed hardware and systems, their new alert capabilities have the capacity to:

  • Increase transparency
  • Decrease lost assets
  • Expedite processes
  • Enhance asset monitoring

Why do logistics operations need automated alert systems?
For example, a package is scanned as it travels through the supply chain, exiting one space and entering another. A manager logs into the relevant computer program and views exactly where the package is. Then, however, the package is accidentally transported to the wrong location and about to ship on the wrong truck. The manager and employees in the area receive an immediate alert indicating that the package has been registered in an area different than its appropriate destination. They have the time and information to correct the mistake before it leaves.
How does the Gateway-based system generate alerts?
Beacons send out their signals on a very regular basis. The nearby Gateway is alerted as to their location and will send that information to the cloud. What happens next depends on how you or your solution provider choose to leverage the Location Engine. For example, you can combine location and dwell time data to create heat maps of moving assets in a factory. Or, you can create an application that checks stock levels in real time. You can develop a timeline that shows where a particular object or person was at any time in the past. However, they can also be used on a “trigger” system. Here, when a Gateway detects or loses sight of a particular beacon, it will send that information immediately to the Location Engine. This triggers a predetermined action, like an instant notification to a manager’s smartphone. This means, instead of constantly checking every asset and generating unnecessary amounts of data, a trigger-based system can be used to register specific movements.
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