AeroScout Keeps Tabs On Movable Assets

The first entry in our Wi-Fi location Rolling Review provides an impressively complete, scalable system.

Frank Bulk, Contributor

November 21, 2007

3 Min Read



FEATURED PRODUCT/PRICE:  AeroScout. Tags start at $65; MobileView is licensed based on the number of units tracked and starts at $30,000. Engine pricing is also based on items tracked and starts at $20,000.ABOUT THIS ROLLING REVIEW:  We issued an RFI to vendors that provide Wi-Fi-based location appliances or software modules. We want to see who has the technology and partnerships to enable Wi-Fi location with a minimum of integration headaches. We'll ask vendors to describe their architectures, what pieces of the puzzle they solve, and where their partners fit. We'll also analyze security.UP NEXT:  EkahauALSO INVITED:  Cisco Systems, InnerWireless (Pango), Meru Networks, Newbury Networks, Motorola (Symbol Technologies), Trapeze Networks, and WhereNet

One powerful feature is filtering. Say a nursing supervisor wants to see patient beds but not medical equipment, while a repair person wants to track all heart monitors. Using MobileView, zones can be created and rules assigned such that a supervisor can be paged when there are too few nurses on a certain floor, or an alarm may ring when gear leaves the grounds.

AeroScout also offers a SOAP API for third-party integration and bidirectional data exchange. The company emphasizes its MobileView product, preferring that customers leverage its MobileView client rather than a third-party application. That said, AeroScout also supports exporting location and events into other systems that may not currently have a visual component. Prospective customers might consider this bias a gating factor if they have a unique business application or don't want to be locked into AeroScout's product line.

The company seems sound. Privately held and founded in 1999, AeroScout has raised $55.5 million in funding over three rounds. It has 120 employees and focuses primarily on health care, manufacturing, and logistics/transportation. According to In-Stat, in 2006 the company led the industry by shipping 100,000 Wi-Fi tags.

In light of Cisco's dominance in the enterprise WLAN market, AeroScout's partnership provides an opportunity to generate real volume on tags. However, AeroScout's Engine is supplanted by Cisco's own location appliance in Cisco LWAPP environments, reducing the stickiness AeroScout has with customers--only 30% of the enterprise Wi-Fi market is not owned by Cisco.

Finally, we have to devote a few words to chokepoints, also called exciters. By using strategically placed readers or triggering devices, location accuracy and speed of identification can be dramatically improved. When a tag passes within range of a 125-KHz exciter, the tag emits a short burst of Wi-Fi data that includes the unique identification of that exciter. This is not dynamic information: Each exciter has a unique signature that's programmed into the tag to be associated with a unique value. Without an exciter, it may take several minutes before the tag chirps and the location is updated. The interval time can be brought down to several seconds, but at the expense of battery life.

This story was updated Nov. 27 to clarify AeroScout's third-party integration stance and the number of call buttons on the T3 model.

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