Aruba Networks is bringing improved management and analytics to the indoor location services it introduced a year ago.
Company officials on Dec. 2 announced Aruba Mobile Engagement 2.0, which also includes a new app developer partnership program to encourage programmers to create software for Aruba’s Meridian Mobile App platform.
Aruba is owned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and the announcements were made at HPE’s Discover 2015 show in London. They are part of a larger push by the parent company to grow its presence at the edge of the network with products that can better aggregate and analyze the huge amounts of data being generated by the billions of connected devices that make up the fast-growing Internet of things (IoT). HPE introduced the first two Intel-powered gateways in its new portfolio of Edgeline systems.
Aruba also is bringing better management and analytics closer to its IoT devices. The company’s Mobile Engagement solution uses its Beacons and its Meridian Mobile App platform to offer a range of businesses—from stores and malls to airports and schools—the ability to get a better idea of how customers are moving about their facilities.
Customers can opt into the service to receive notifications via mobile apps using Meridian or through a mobile Web browser via Aruba’s ClearPass Guest Advertising solution. Businesses can determine the indoor positions of participating customers by using mobile apps that can detect Aruba Beacons through its Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology and by using WiFi networks to notify mobile devices that are inside their areas of business.
Aruba is one of a growing number of tech vendors that are offering ways for businesses to better engage their customers through location services. Jeff Hardison, director of product marketing for the company, told eWEEK that the operators of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., where the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers play, are using Aruba’s technology and generated $1.25 million in revenue from its indoor venues mobile app during the first season at the arena.
An important capability in the Aruba offering is its “blue dot” capabilities, according to Hardison. Many other vendors rely on Bluetooth beacons to create proximity systems that detect when a customer comes in range of a beacon, but not necessarily the customer’s precise location.
Aruba’s solution offers the ability to see that precise location, showing the person as a blue dot on a map and then being able to follow the customer as they move around the store or other facility. This can help improve customer experience while also giving businesses key information about customer behavior and interests.
As the use of such services grow and the deployments scale, so do the management challenges. Aruba is rolling out Aruba Sensors, enabling organizations to remotely manage thousands of Aruba Beacons through the Meridian Platform via any WiFi network. That includes monitoring the battery levels in the Beacons, changing the power levels up or down and updating the software, Hardison told eWEEK. They can also run on any vendor’s WiFi network; before, the Beacon system could only run on Aruba WiFi networks.
Aruba Improves Management, Analytics to Indoor Location Services
The Aruba Sensors combine a small WiFi client and BLE radio. Hardison said the technology will reduce IT costs by making it easier to manage beacons from a single location. IT staff no longer will have to go to where the beacons are, and Aruba estimates that organizations will save about 48 hours for every 1,000-beacon deployment during a single maintenance window.
The Aruba Sensor AS-100 is available now starting at $195.
Aruba also is bringing analytics capabilities to the Mobile Engagement solution to give businesses and other organizations greater visibility into their customers, from who is connected and where they are to the type of devices they’re using. The analytics technology can gauge such aspects as user engagement, including aggregated results that come from metrics around navigation, location-based data and the amount of time they dwell in the store, or where they dwell.
Hardison also talked about the privacy aspects for the users, noting that they must download the app of a participating business and then agree to share their location before any data is shown.
“The devices look for the beacons instead of the beacons looking for the devices,” he said.
Aruba also is expanding its partner program to allow both independent software vendors (ISVs) and custom app development agencies (CADA) to develop atop the Meridian Mobile App platform.
The enhancements in Mobile Engagement 2.0 are an acknowledgment that organizations that use indoor location solutions want to grow what they can offer customers, Hardison said.
“Every venue we talk to … are now not just providing guest WiFi,” he said. “They now are looking at how to unite their infrastructures.”