The third Wireless Field Day 2 presenter was Ekahau (ek-uh-how). This was a new company to me, so I was greatly interested to see what they were going to bring to the boardroom table in the San Jose Airport Doubletree. Ekahau is a company that focuses on two primary areas in wireless – site surveying and real-time location services (RTLS). The site surveying piece really piques my interest since having a good site survey is crucial to a useful wireless deployment. I reviewed AirMagnet’s site survey tools at the last Wireless Field Day, so hearing there was another group that has this capability is good.
Ekahau started off with a quick overview of the company. It was nice to hear from Jussi Kiviniemi, Senior Product Manager, who decided to join us all the way from Finland. He gave us the background of Ekahau, which is based around deploying RTLS to verticals like healthcare and universities. This gives them a unique perspective on challenging radio frequency (RF) environments and seems to have driven development of not only location services but their site survey tools instead.
One of the pieces of the Ekahau solution that I really enjoyed was the Ekahau Site Survey for Android Mobile. Site survey tools for laptops and laptop OSes is nothing new. But I’ve been informed recently that we are now living in the post-PC world. This means that I now must have a tablet device in order to perform site surveys, right? Thankfully, the people over at Ekahau have embraced the tablet form factor for those devices running Android. The Mobile Site Survey app is currently available in a 1.0 revsion, but the WFD2 delegates got a chance to look at version 2.0 running on a ton of Android devices. In fact, you can check out which devices are supported by Ekahau’s MSS app here. Yes, even the Cius. That’s a pretty impressive amount of supported hardware. You get the capability of visualizing the areas you are walking through to check AP power and coverage. That is a killer idea for those that need instant access without worrying about the time needed to boot up and laptop. You get many of the features of the Ekahau site survey tools in an easy-to-carry form factor. I was also impressed by the capabilities of the full featured site survey suite. I especially like the ability to tag maps with a distance reference and wall construction type and let the program crunch all the numbers to help you figure out the best wireless coverage for your area. That’s something that would come in very handy for me when I’m working on RFPs with no notice and no ability to do a proper site survey.
The other piece of the Ekahau portfolio is real-time location services (RTLS). I’ve seen some RTLS equipment before from other vendors, and I’ve even experienced it’s use when my children were born. But seeing it up close and personal was much more interesting. During the Ekahau presentation, we could hear chirping in the background but I couldn’t make out what it was. Turns out it was a collection of Ekahau wireless tags that can be attached to almost any surface and used to track equipment via RTLS servers. The tags also have light sensors that allow you to determine if the tag has been removed from being attached to a surface. One of the user cases that I never thought of was using the tags to attach to the back of TVs in hospitality or healthcare. That way, if the TV gets moved from it’s perch or the tag is pulled from the back, appropriate people can be notified immediately. They can even carry a lanyard-attached notification device at all times, which can scroll the location of the tag sending the alert. Very cool stuff, and very useful in the verticals I am usually involved in.
Ekahau’s Oprah Moment of Wireless Field Day 2 was a bag containing coffee, a coffee measuring spoon, a coffee cup with the recipe for high-performance wireless on one side and high performance coffee on the other, a collection of dummy Ekahau RTLS tags that we can show off, an Ekahau USB wireless adapter, and a copy of Ekahau Site Survey that will be shipped at a later date. I’m very interested in trying this product out, so I can’t want until it gets here!
If you’d like to learn more, you can check out their website at http://www.ekahau.com. You can also follow them on Twitter as @Ekahau.
Seeing what Ekahau has to offer in the realm of site surveys was very refreshing. I don’t often have the time necessary to go out and do a truly complete site survey. At the same time, I feel bad if I’m trying to just toss something together without at least taking signal strength patterns and contstruction types into account. With Ekahau’s suite of tools, I can do just that, whether it be from my laptop or from an Android tablet. I think the next time someone asks me which site survey tools I’d recommend, I will likely point them in the direction of these fine Finns.
Wireless Field Day 2 Disclaimer
Ekahau was a sponsor of Wireless Field Day 2. As such, they were responsible for covering a portion of my travel and lodging expenses while attending Wireless Field Day 2. In addition, they provided me with a bag containing coffee, a coffee measuring spoon, a coffee cup, a collection of dummy Ekahau RTLS tags, an Ekahau USB wireless adapter, and a copy of Ekahau Site Survey that will be shipped at a later date. They did not ask for, nor where they promised any kind of consideration in the writing of this review/analysis. The opinions and analysis provided within are my own and any errors or omissions are mine and mine alone.
I’ve been out of the wireless game for a while now, but I picked up the ESS tool probably back in 2006 for exactly the reasons you mentioned. The company I worked for was constantly changing things around, building new sites, retrofitting old ones etc., and it was a lifesaver for me. I could just ask facilities for site drawings and outside dimensions of the building, and boom I was up and running. Saved me a few plane tickets and a heck of a lot of time…
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