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Aruba Self Locating AP’s bring GPS-like location services indoors

In general, we humans like to know where we are. No one likes to be lost. From tracking constellations and measuring the sun to sophisticated GPS tech, we have honed our navigation and location skills over the centuries. In the past few decades alone, we’ve gone from trying to manage unwieldy paper maps and atlases to (arguably) eliminating the map entirely. Who needs a map when you have a smartphone?

Smartphones are all well and good when you’re outdoors. The perennial stumbling block for wayfinding and location services has always been indoor infrastructure. Indoor GPS?! Impossible, we all said! Well, is it? Not so fast, says Aruba Wireless’s team of developers and engineers who have created a seamless (and precise) way to crack this tech challenge. Aruba Self-locating Access Points are here, with the potential to open a whole new set of location service possibilities for your business.

The benefits of Aruba Self Locating AP’s

  • AP positioning can be automated AND accurate, allowing a company to reduce wireless setup time by eliminating the error-prone and tedious manual mapping methods.
  • Self locating APs offer a rock-solid infrastructure foundation on which a company can build and deploy location-aware services.
  • Companies can offer seamless user experiences across any environment—indoor and outdoor.
  • Aruba’s Open Locate offers interoperability with existing GPS apps such as Google Maps and Apple Maps

If you are looking to extend your wireless or create a new modern design, Comport can help. Contact us today!

The limits and challenges of indoor location services

Existing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth ranging capabilities simply cannot offer accuracy and automation. Current location service options are costly and time-intensive, achievable only through a combination of manual mapping and overlay technologies. This kind of solution is so labor-intensive, it typically requires professional services, and Comport still offers the traditional Aruba Wireless Assessment. However, with self locating AP’s that may soon be a thing of the past. Most traditional measurements created via a 2-D model are incompatible with newer global mapping applications such as Google Maps and Apple Maps and are certainly a bit clunky. As a result, only 25% of organizations even bother to map AP locations—and even fewer update them. In fact, generally the only time this is done is for new wireless implementations.

Aruba’s Compelling Indoor Location Services Solution

Aruba’s ultimate goal is to bring the ease and universal adoption of outdoor GPS indoors—all while making it sharable, universal, accurate and automated. Aruba’s OPEN LOCATE Initiative is working towards establishing universal industry standards so that any application can access indoor location information. That info can be shared with any client device and any service. The resulting mapped data is a precise global latitude/longitude location—a universal reference frame that is compatible with GPS apps. Through a combination of built-in GPS receivers, fine time measurements, and intelligent software, Aruba Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E APs determine their locations without any customer intervention. Changes are integrated and updated seamlessly, as the APs are in constant communication which means no more manual mapping, no clunky overlays, no manual updates, and no additional deployment services needed.

How do Self Locating AP’s Work?

The key is the GPS chip in the Aruba Wi-Fi 6E APs. It is the world’s first integrated GPS/GNSS receiver for indoor Wi-Fi APs—and it comes standard in Aruba Wi-Fi 6E APs. The idea is that in any infrastructure deployment, APs installed near exterior walls (with superior access to GPS satellite signals) become ‘anchor’ APs. Interior APs with little or no GPS access will use other Wi-Fi ranging technologies such as Fine Time Measurement (FTM) to triangulate with the anchor APs.

Aruba’s intelligent software is the second key component in this solution. One advantage of indoor APs is that they are stationary. Over time, the APs’ GPS sensors can refine and expand location information to create a complete, comprehensive, and accurate map. The software manages the entire system to allow location communication without affecting performance on the client side. An added benefit is that even though Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6 APs do not have the GPS receiver, they can still sync up with the system using FTM.

With Open Locate, Aruba is aiming to standardize how AP infrastructure communicates location information to clients and mobile devices. Aruba is partnering with major OS vendors such Google, Zebra, Tile, and Samsung to push for universal adoption.

Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6E APs

Aruba’s high-sensitivity GNSS receiver is ground-breaking. It is the first time a GPS chip has been integrated as a standard part of Wi-Fi infrastructure. The GPS receiver in the Aruba Wi-Fi 6E AP is not just any old GPS chip. It is completely different from the navigational GPS capabilities of a mobile phone, for example. It is optimized for indoor, stationary use, meaning that it ‘knows’ it can determine and refine its location over time–and that location won’t typically change. It can automatically determine its location without any knowledge of building maps. It is interoperable with Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Bing Maps. As an added benefit (still pending regulatory approval), it can operate off 6 GHz Standard Power.

Open Locate: Moving Forward and Looking Outward

A key part of the rollout for this new tech is Aruba’s Open Locate Initiative. Standardization—which would allow for greater sharing of location information and seamless interoperability–needs to be the end goal. Network equipment vendors, client operating systems and devices, chipset manufacturers, service providers and software developers all need to speak the same language. To that end, Aruba is collaborating with IEEE and Wi-Fi Alliance to leverage and extend the 802.11 fine time measurement (FTM) standard with Open Locate.

Why should you consider location services?

The high costs, inefficiencies, and inaccuracies of current indoor location service tech solutions has naturally limited what organizations can do in terms of tracking and metrics. With Aruba’s self-locating APs, a whole new world of location-related services can be at your fingertips. Businesses with varied environments can offer seamless customer experiences (wayfinding and targeted campaigns), regardless of physical infrastructure. Companies can use location metrics data to better evaluate and understand users and how assets are being utilized (or not). For organizations with vast inventories of assets and/or products, this adds a whole new level of sophistication to tracking. Essentially, you can keep better track of your stuff, whether that stuff is wheelchairs, warehouse inventory or your wireless AP infrastructure itself.

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