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Cisco Combines RFID Location Tools With Wi-Fi

The Wireless Location Appliance 2700 is a $14,995 1U box that integrates RFID tagging with 802.11 access points, enabling ways for central managers to locate and control assets. The system can be used in conjunction with voice-over-IP infrastructure, but works best when VoIP has been extended to a voice-over-Wi-Fi environment.

Loring Wirbel

May 4, 2005

2 Min Read

LAS VEGAS — Cisco Systems Inc. showed off the first fruits of its recent Airespace Inc. acquisition at the Interop show here, and the company opted for a more clever integration of tools than a simple rebranding.

The Wireless Location Appliance 2700 is a $14,995 1U box that integrates RFID tagging with 802.11 access points, providing ways for central managers to locate and control assets.

Cisco is initially targeting health-care networks to use the locator system to monitor hospital and clinic equipment. Ann Sun, senior manager of wireless and mobility solutions, said she anticipates growing interest from manufacturers along with public-safety applications and similar markets where asset tracking is important.

The system can be used in conjunction with voice-over-IP infrastructure, but works best when VoIP has been extended to a voice-over-Wi-Fi environment.

One location system is used for each central enterprise site where aggregation and network policy enforcement is required. Wi-Fi access points gather received signal strength indicators (RSSI) from 802.11 devices and tags, and Cisco Lightweight Access Point Protocol (LWAPP) controllers serve to aggregate RSSI information.

The location appliance sends information to the Wireless Control System (WCS), which serves as an authenticator and policy enforcer. Sun said the location appliance could, in theory, be integrated with an LWAPP controller, with a Layer 3 switch or an enterprise router, though some customers may want to independent 1U appliance to remain physically separate from these network elements.

Cisco has developed a rich color asset mapper for the WCS software, with mapped assets displayed on a graphic user interface through RFID information collected by the 2700 appliance. Cisco already is working with PanGo Networks and AeroScout on software applications for the system.

Cisco will be working with IBM Corp. to jointly promote wider corporate use of RFID, using the 2700 as the first system to link tagging to Wi-Fi networks.

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