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Aruba Networks' Real-Time Broadband Wireless Location Systems Lower Costs by Leveraging Wi-Fi Infrastructure to Keep Tabs on Key Assets

4/6/09 - Aruba Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARUN) announced three Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) that leverage customers' existing Aruba adaptive Wi-Fi network to lower deployment and operating costs. RTLS uses signal triangulation and propagation algorithms to locate the position of an asset, device or Wi-Fi tracking tag within a facility. Aruba offers an RTLS solution integrated into its AirWave Wireless Management Suite (AWMS), as well as interoperability with RTLS location-engines from AeroScout and Ekahau. Customers can select from among these three solutions based on required positioning accuracy and features.

"RTLS systems are poised to make a significant impact on the enterprise," said Paul DeBeasi, senior analyst at the Burton Group. "Advances in location technology, expanding enterprise wireless use, and additional governmental emergency regulations will drive the deployment of RTLS applications. Inventory and asset tracking systems reduce the costs associated with looking for misplaced assets, improve workflow productivity by ensuring that assets are deployed to locations with the greatest need. Any device that is communicating with the wireless LAN has the potential to be located in real time, including Wi-Fi phones for Enhanced 911 services."

In its simplest and least expensive implementation, RTLS uses Aruba access points to identify the position of Wi-Fi enabled laptops, PDAs, printers, and other devices. Location information is tracked, displayed, and recorded by the recently updated AWMS VisualRF™ Location and Mapping Module. The VisualRF module is fully integrated with the AirWave platform, and the RTLS information it generates is available through the same easy-to-use, Web-based interface through which other tasks are managed.

"In addition to showing the real-time location of devices, the VisualRF software can playback the history of where these devices have moved over the past several hours or days," said Bryan Wargo, general manager of Aruba's AirWave division. "In the event that a device goes missing, the playback feature can be an invaluable assistant in tracing where it went. For users who want to track the location of PCs and other Wi-Fi based devices, the location capability integrated into the AirWave suite will offer the lowest cost solution."

For more precise locationing applications, Aruba's adaptive wireless LANs interoperate with AeroScout and Ekahau RTLS solutions. These sophisticated tracking solutions use dedicated RTLS location engines and smart Wi-Fi tags that can be affixed to equipment, people, or pallets. In addition to precisely identifying position, some of the tags also transmit telemetry data such as temperature, duress, intrusion, and two-way text paging.

Aruba and AeroScout leverage a tag beaconing method that helps reduce network traffic and conserve tag battery life. High scalability is ensured by enabling communications without requiring the tags to complete an 802.11 association with an access point, and potentially tens of thousands of tagged assets can be tracked and managed with minimal impact on the wireless network. This beaconing method enables AeroScout's tag battery to last up to eight years. An Aruba and AeroScout solution sheet is available online at http://www.arubanetworks.com/pdf/partners/PSB_AeroScout.pdf .

"Our Aruba-compatible solutions for hospitals and healthcare organizations include asset management, equipment maintenance, temperature and humidity monitoring, workflow management, and patient and staff safety applications," said Dave Strauss, AeroScout's vice president of business development. "AeroScout's comprehensive solution encompasses a range of Wi-Fi tag models, AeroScout's Location Engine, and MobileView software."

To simplify the deployment of Ekahau's tag-based RTLS solution, Aruba and Ekahau have jointly published a design and implementation reference guide. The guide includes implementation guidelines for the Aruba-Ekahau Blink Mode. Unique to Ekahau Wi-Fi tags, and optimized for use with Aruba's Adaptive Radio Management technology, this Blink Mode uses two-way communications to provide higher location accuracy and five times longer tag battery life.

"Our integration with Aruba highlights the fact that Wi-Fi based RTLS is the easiest way for hospitals to introduce location tracking applications for asset, patient, telemetry and workflow management," said Tuomo Rutanen, Ekahau's vice president of business development. "These integrated systems can automate several critical operational healthcare processes where campus-wide visibility and 100 percent bed-level accuracy are required. Wi-Fi based real-time location -- coupled with two-way messaging, temperature and other sensing applications -- eliminate the cost and complexity of deploying multiple proprietary systems to deliver critical healthcare operations information."

By Robert Hoskins

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