Aruba Networks Buys Meridian Apps for Indoor Location Services

Aruba will combine its WiFi technology with Meridian's software platform for smartphones and tablets to create services for use in public venues.

Aruba Networks is buying privately held Meridian Apps to bulk up its capabilities around indoor mapping and location services.

Aruba officials said they plan to combine their company's WiFi technology with Meridian's indoor location services for smartphones and tablets. Meridian's software platform is aimed at public venues like shopping malls, hospitals, museums, convention centers and campuses, making it easier for mobile device users to navigate their way through these facilities while businesses can provide their own custom apps aimed at consumers.

"The addition of Meridian will enable enterprises to tap into a wealth of network-driven information so that they can better engage their customers with more personalized services," Keerti Melkote, Aruba founder and chief technology officer, said in a statement. "This is a clear opportunity for WiFi to become not only an enabling platform for BYOD [bring-your-own-device], but now across industries, a revenue-producing, customer-engagement platform for the business."

Aruba and Meridian announced the deal May 16. No financial details were disclosed.

Networking and mobile device vendors are looking for ways to enable businesses to leverage their technologies to reach out to potential customers, and to make it easier for users to find a way to more easily move throughout these venues. It helps consumers to more easily find what they're looking for, while giving businesses tools to entice potential buyers into their stores or to deliver better service to users.

For example, smartphone and tablet users in a shopping mall could more easily find the stores they're interested in. Meanwhile, a business through its mobile apps on the Meridian platform could locate potential customers who are in the mall and send an alert via their mobile devices about a sale or give them directions to the store. Businesses also could use the apps to see and analyze customer traffic patterns and preferences.

Other tech vendors also are looking to grow their indoor mapping and GPS capabilities. A June 2012 study by IMS Research indicated that Apple, Google and Microsoft will be the key players in indoor mapping of public venues such as malls and airports, and that by 2016, almost 120,000 indoor venue maps will be available to consumers. In March, Apple bought WiFiSLAM, a smaller company that offered technology for mapping indoor spaces.

In November 2012, Cisco Systems unveiled new WiFi location data analytics capabilities that leverage the technology inherited when it bought ThinkSmart Technologies two months earlier. ThinkSmart offered location-based analytics technology. The new location services and analytics features—developed in conjunction with mobile chip maker Qualcomm—were incorporated into the latest version of Cisco's Mobility Services Engine, which is part of the vendor's Unified Access solution.

The capabilities are aimed at helping organizations better monetize their wireless networks by enabling them to offer customers an improved consumer experience, an important step in a world where the number of connected devices is growing rapidly and consumers are embracing location-based, personalized services, Sujai Hajela, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Wireless Networking Group, told eWEEK at the time.

"It's a confluence of two worlds to enable enterprises to monetize this experience," Hajela said.