You Are Here: Aruba Targets New Mobile Engagement Platform At Public Venues

Aruba Networks is hoping to help public venues, such as sports stadiums and hospitals, provide more accurate location-based services to mobile users through a new platform called Aruba Mobile Engagement.

Unveiled Monday, Aruba Mobile Engagement consists of a number of Aruba technologies, including its Meridian indoor GPS system, its ClearPass access management system, and Aruba Beacons, a new line of Bluetooth-enabled devices that Aruba said provides more secure and accurate location-based services than traditional Wi-Fi access points.

The beacon model was pioneered by Apple, which launched its iBeacon standard last year.

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Leveraging this mix of Aruba technologies, Aruba's Mobile Engagement platform is designed to let venues push out precise, turn-by-turn navigation applications to the mobile devices of customers moving throughout their facilities.

The platform also enables venues' marketing teams to push out advertisements or incentives tailored to a specific user's interests or location. A hotel, for instance, could automatically push out dining coupons to users walking by an in-venue restaurant.

According to Jeff Hardison, director of product marketing for Aruba’s public-facing enterprise group, the Aruba Beacons are what really sets Aruba's Mobile Engagement platform apart from competing Wi-Fi analytics and location-based services.

For starters, he said, the beacons are significantly more accurate than traditional Wi-Fi access points. Secondly, he added, they are more secure, requiring users to complete a lengthy opt-in process before they can receive any of the services offered by the venue.

Hardison also stressed that Aruba included USB ports in its beacons so that they can be attached directly to its access points. This, he said, allows the beacons to be powered by the access points and, more importantly, be remotely managed, just like Aruba access points, via a central management portal.

"If you have 500 stores, you can see all the beacons across a map and check on their battery life, their power level, etc. and not have to fly around the country to check on all of them manually," Hardison said.

Marketing teams, meanwhile, can use and white-label Aruba's Meridian platform to create their own branded applications for mobile users to leverage in their venues. These mobile apps can be added to online app stores via the Meridian platform.

Levi Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers, already has leveraged Meridian as the foundation for a new mobile app that helps users navigate the stadium, watch instant replays and even order food directly from their mobile device.

Shaun Neal, solution architect with Burwood Group, a Chicago-based solution provider and Aruba partner, said he anticipates a lot of interest in the Aruba Mobile Engagement platform from his customers in the health-care vertical.

"[Health-care facilities] are one of the places where people tend to be new to that specific venue or building," Neal said. "So giving them turn-by-turn locations or information about where they are at any given point in a building -- it's something that really interests us and really interests our customers."

Neal said the remote management capabilities with the Aruba Beacons also are critical to the overall Mobile Engagement solution.

"If [customers] can log into one dashboard and see all the beacons across 20 or 30 hospitals or even more, that's a really big deal, especially for an industry that is often pressed for resources," he said.

Aruba said its new line of beacons and beacon management software will be available within the first half of 2015. Its ClearPass access management system and Meridian app platform are available now.