Analytics Border Controls & Security Case Studies Enterprise Mobility Government ID & Authentication SMART IOT Uncategorized

RF Spectra influencing Digitization

Technology have grown to an extend where many new unimaginable developments have changed the world drastically. While viewing these smart technologies with spell bound eyes, there are complex RF spectral processes that contributes to the achievement of the once impossible tasks. Let’s dissect into a detailed view to understand how various frequencies in the RF spectra contribute to the enabling of smart technologies.The term smart technology can be applied to almost all adoptions of technology and hence can be simplified as digitization. Let it be a simple home IOT implementation to a complex indoor-outdoor location service, RF technologies have it own share in converting the concept into a reality.

IOT Implementation


Analytics Border Controls & Security Case Studies Enterprise Mobility Government ID & Authentication SMART IOT Uncategorized

The Smart Concierge Service

The solution is developed as part of an enhancement plan by the Airport Duty Free, in one of the business class lounges. The project aims at improving the experience and adding a personal touch to the service offered at an individual level to the business class passengers. The passenger upon entering the concierge counter is greeted and assisted by a shopping assistant. The desired Duty Free products can be selected from a digital menu displayed at the concierge counter.Once the selection is done, The passenger is provided with a smart tag and can go anywhere in the lounge without worrying about additional efforts.

The passenger selection is forwarded to the online shopping department, who in turn forwards the request to the pickers. The pickers collect all the items from the Duty Free Stores and deliver to the concierge counters at the lounge. The concierge service locates the passenger by tracking the tags earlier provided. Payment is processed at the endpoint, after the delivery is carried out. Our Location services facilitate pinpointing up to the last point where the passenger is seated. The whole operation staring from product selection to delivery is carried out within 90 minutes and is expected to improve as the process is streamlined.

The Location identification is provided by triangulating the location of the BLE tags provided to the customer using BLE gateways placed at various positions within the lounge. The signal data is send to a central server based architecture in which the triangulation algorithm resides. The result of the calculations done by the server based program is provided through an SDK that is incorporated into the concierge service application. The application provides the data with a latency of 3 minutes if passenger(in-turn the tag representing the passenger) is in motion.

Analytics Border Controls & Security Case Studies Enterprise Mobility Government ID & Authentication SMART IOT Uncategorized

RF Technologies in today’s digital world

IOT has been the hottest topic in the technology arena for a long time now. Even though the concept was introduced a while ago, only recently we have seen a surge in technology adoptions followed by many companies in their run up to bridge the gap between the digital and real worlds. In any of such implementations, one thing in common will be the adoption of an RF technology to facilitate easy data transfer. It is often a topic of debate among vendors that one RF technology is better than the other. As a matter of fact there are certain properties of one RF signal that helps it stand out from the others for a particular application. Let’s put forward the general idea about what are the technologies being offered by vendors in terms of properties, hardware, advantages & disadvantages at a vendor-neutral stand point.

Below table is a reference matrix for a quick evaluation of various aspects of each technology.

BLE(Bluetooth Low Energy) :  Initially introduced as Bluetooth Smart, BLE is one of the most adapted technologies in order to facilitate connectivity. Unlike Bluetooth 2.0 EDR or Bluetooth 3.0 HS with higher data rate functionality, BLE(A subset of bluetooth specification 4.0) targets effective communication with devices that do not need streaming data or high data throughput. The BLE specification effectively imposes 2 types of devices:  a dual mode device(eg. smart phone) which can support BLE in addition to the classic bluetooth protocol and a single mode device(beacon), which supports only BLE protocol.

Due to the widespread use of bluetooth transceivers in modern devices, majority of the enterprise devices are BLE ready. Therefore, the technology adoption and communication become seamless and cost effective. They deliver granular-level visibility for individual package delivery and asset management, as well as a more comprehensive end-to-end monitoring solution indoors, outdoors or in-transit.

BLE implementations usually have a single mode device called a beacon that continuously advertises low energy signals. Beacons are low-cost, low-powered transmitters equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE that can be used to deliver proximity-based, context-aware messages or perform location analytics. A beacon doesn’t really transmit content, it simply transmits a signal advertising) that lets a user’s phone or a BLE gateway figure out its proximity to the beacon. When a relevant app recognizes a beacon signal, a predefined ‘action’ is triggered via the app, to the user’s mobile device.

Even though a BLE solution can provide a lot of benefits in terms of functionality and ease of integration, there are certain challenges that need to be considered. Since the technology requires installation of battery powered beacons, the maintenance can become a tedious activity. Asthe location service with BLE highly relies on the RSSI of the RF signal, the accuracy will be between 1 – 3 meters. The cost of the beacon is higher than a regular passive RFID. However, a BLE project will be cost effective if deployed in a large premise with a sizeable number of beacons.

Pros & Cons of BLE

Pros –

  • Most of the smart devices are Bluetooth ready which enables easier BLE implementation
  • Lower Energy utilization reduces battery consumption.
  • Provides Granularity in visibility.
  • Enables real time operation with low packet transfer.


  • Maintenance of a lager beacon deployment is difficult.
  • Location tracking can have a deviation of 1 – 3 meters from actual position.
  • Need to have a large deployment to be cost effective.
  • Additional receiver(Gateway) is required for applications like tracking.

WIFI(Wireless Fidelity)

WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to provide network connectivity. A WiFi connection is established using a wireless adapter to create hotspots – areas in the vicinity of a wireless router that are connected to the network and allow users to access internet services. Once configured, WiFi provides wireless connectivity to your devices by emitting frequencies between 2.4GHz – 5GHz, based on the amount of data on the network.

Inside buildings, Wi-Fi is a good alternative to GPS, which is not available indoors. In most cases it is easy to install a Wi-Fi positioning system (WPS) as Wi-Fi access points already exist in many buildings. The advantage is that for say existing cash register systems, public hotspots and access points of shops or exhibitors can be used. The user doesn’t necessarily have to connect with the Wi-Fi, it is sufficient to be Wi-Fi enabled.

Pros & Cons of BLE

Pros –

  • No additional hardware required (Existing APs can be utilized)
  • No additional power source required.
  • Wifi is an essential requirement for all users ensuring more connected devices
  • Ranges farther that BLE at an average of 100 – 250 meters

Cons –

  • Wifi data rates and through put is higher making it slower than BLE.
  • Provides a zonal visibility than a granular approach.
  • Defines the proximity of a connected device to a range of 5 – 15 meters.

RFID(Radio Frequency IDentification)

RFID systems involve an RFID tag(effectively a transponder) that sends data to reader. The average range of a passive RFID tag is 0.5 meters to 3 meters. Passive tags or transponders receive the energy to transmit their information (at frequencies between 866 MHz to 868 MHz) from the radiation field of the reader. Due to these reasons, Passive RFID is not a good option for location services. While using passive RFID, a reader needs to capture the data at a close proximity of the tag which is not ideal to identify the location and track items or people in real time. Passive RFID is best for asset tracking and keeping inventory that does not need a real-time monitoring of movement.

Unlike Passive RFID, Active RFID has a longer range and does not need a reader to intimate the tag to send signal. Active RFID, as the name suggests stays active using a battery powered chip. Therefore, data will be available in real time for a reader to gather and update a back-end system for location services and tracking. So-called active transponders, which have their own power supply, theoretically even reach transmitter ranges in the kilometer range. However, the unit price of the transponders increases considerably. This also makes the transponder considerably larger.

RFID alone is only partially or rarely suitable for the implementation of location-based services. A major disadvantage is the rather small range, but above all, the fact that although it is possible to identify whether an RFID tag is in reader A or B, the path in between cannot be detected. However, it is precisely this information that is necessary for the optimization of logistical processes. Therefore, passive RFID by itself in not best suited for flexible positioning or even indoor navigation. However, combining passive RFID with beacon technology is optimal for warehousing processes and eliminates most of the disadvantages.

Pros & Cons of BLE

Pros –

  • Passive tags are cost effective.
  • Passive RFID Tags do not require a power source.

Cons –

  • Active tags are costly and bigger is size.
  • Passive RFID cannot provide a real time update of assets.
  • Not ideal for people tracking due to interference.
  • Read range is less – about 0.5 – 3.0 meters.

UWB(Ultra Wide Band)

The UWB spectrum was opened for commercial use in 2005 by the FCC for pulse-based transmission in the 3.1 to 10.6 GHz frequency range. Applications target sensor data collection, precision locating and tracking applications which is the focus here.

With UWB, we measure the time it takes for the signal to travel from transmitter to receiver in order to calculate the distance in centimeters. This method gives much better distance information than determining distance based on signal strength with beacons.

The apps can receive precise location data (less than 20 cm deviation) and location updates can be delivered every 100 ms if necessary. A user will carry a small UWB tag to monitor their exact location. The tag is equipped with a UWB transmitter and can feed of the phone’s USB port or a coin-size battery with a 1 year life. It sends out a ping signal via UWB for every location update and is also equipped with an acceleration-meter which will keep it at rest if it is not moving.

UWB involves the use of a Tag similar to a BLE beacon and an anchor equivalent to a BLE Gateway. Though UWB can be used to track the location to a more precise level than the BLE, additional hardware need to be attached to the smart phone devices in case of an application centric architecture. Since the Smart phones are not pre-equipped with UWB receiver, the additional hardware will help the application in accessing Tag information directly.

Pros & Cons of BLE

Pros –

  • UWB can provide centimeter level accuracy
  • Can cover a larger area than other RF technologies.
  • Lower interference from other signals.

Cons –

  • Higher cost than other technologies
  • Smart device are not UWB ready.
  • Additional hardware required for direct communication with smart devices in an application-centric architecture.


Analytics Border Controls & Security Case Studies Enterprise Mobility Government ID & Authentication SMART IOT Uncategorized

Enterprise Mobility – Smart Choices

With increasing requirement for mobilizing the work force, enterprises are finding it hard to select the right mobility devices to fulfill their requirements. Selecting a device with all the best features may not always be the right decision. The essence is to find the right mix of specifications that will best serve the purpose and provide favorable ROI. The device must be selected with consideration to various factors. The scrutiny  primarily includes: evaluation of performance, durability, communication capabilities etc.


Without any doubt, the best mobile device is the one with all the best features. But the question to be asked is, would you like to invest in a solution in which a larger portion of its ability is going to be unused during its life time? Instead, a mobility device with the right configurations will make the deployments hassle free and reduces the TCO considerably. Both software and hardware performance are to be considered equally. Since Microsoft is withdrawing their enterprise mobility OS platforms, Android OS versions do not have an immediate contender to choose from. Hence, it is best to select the latest versions of Android OS for any deployment.

Hardware performance involves evaluation of the processor features to identify the capabilities of the device. The most important factors affecting processor performance are

1.    CPU Capacity(Number of cores) – Selection of processor can be decided according to the extent of multitasking involved. The multitasking capability will be higher for the chip-set with more cores. But for an environment that does not have too many parallel processes at the same time,a basic chip-set with a limited number of core will be sufficient

Eg: For a solution that has fewer applications, a device like the Zebra MC40 with dual-core processor will be sufficient. Conversely, an application with too many processes that consume a lot of CPU power will require additional cores. At least a hex-core device like the Zebra TC75x or a Honeywell CT60 octa-core device for best performance. A hex-core or an octa-core device will have more CPU processing power to accommodate and better prioritize the process threads.

2.    Clock speed refers to the rate at which a processor completes a cycle. It defines how quickly the processor can complete all process threads in one cycle. But a higher clock speed does not always give the best performance. Other features like the instruction set, architecture, number of cores, bus speed, Cache size, Ram speed etc have higher influence on the performance. Therefore, Clock speed is a definite value to be checked provided all the other features are favorable.

3.    On-board cache – CPU cache is one of the major factors that affect the performance of the processor. The larger the Cache size, more data and instructions can be accommodated in the CPU. This in turn helps complete the compute cycles quickly. In addition, there are different layers for the CPU cache starting from L1 where the cache is divided into two parts: One for storing data and the other for Instructions. However, in L2 cache a single storage itself deals with both data and instructions aligned to the processor making process transactions easier & faster.

4.    Memory or RAM has two main attributes that affect your system’s performance: capacity and speed.

a.     Memory capacity: The more gigabytes (GB) your memory module has, the more programs you can have open at once.

b.    Memory Speed: The amount of time that it takes RAM to receive a request from the processor and then read or write data. Generally, the faster the RAM, the faster the processing speeds.

Today’s enterprises focusing on solutions that can work in challenging conditions, look for the most efficient device like the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A2 that has a maximum Clock speed of 2.4GHz, 4 GB RAM and 2 MB cache. Even though the device only has a Quad Core, the processor architecture of the AtomTM x5-Z8550 delivers performance with efficient multitasking capabilities.


Enterprise mobiles need to be rugged and IP rated (Ingress Protection) to help organizations safeguard their investments for a longer period. The degree of ruggedness depends on where, how and who will be using the device. The key is to decide the level of physical protection required for any given environmental condition.Typically, highly rugged mobile device like the Zebra TC75 with drop specs of up to 6ft/1.8m (multiple drops to concrete), MIL-STD-810G & IP rating IP67 that can withstand shocks, vibrations, extreme weather and electrostatic discharges are positioned for harsh environments, eg. warehouses, manufacturing facilities, yards etc. Whereas a semi rugged device such as the Zebra TC51/TC56 is ideal in a customer service area or in a sales department. There are various hazardous deployments like in the oil & gas industry where devices like Juniper systems – Archer 2 that are Intrinsic Safe(IS) must be used. IS devices do not release electrical or thermal energy under normal or abnormal conditions so as not to cause ignition of certain specific hazardous atmospheric mixtures.

Communication capabilities

The most important aspect of a mobility solution is to make sure that the workforce is always available. The mode of communication depends on various factors such as Location (indoors or outdoors), Data type (voice or data only mode) etc. In Wi-Fi configurations it is most advantages to have mobile devices that can support both 2.4 GHz & 5.0 GHz channels. The advantage of retaining the IEEE 802.11a – 5.0 GHz band available is that, usually the devices using this band are far fewer in number than the overcrowded 802.11b – 2.4 GHz bands. This reduces the network interference and latency, enabling seamless transmission of information. All the enterprise mobility implementations will have either WWAN or a WLAN communication network set for ensuring the workforce visibility and for collecting data. In case of selecting a WWAN device, it is necessary to identify the right product that accommodates the latest 4G LTE technology to the older CDMA/GSM technologies. When it comes to WLAN communication standards, there are too many specifications set by IEEE in their 802.11 standards. In addition to the IEEE 802.11 standards a & b, there are other later versions such as g/n/ac/ad/af/ag/ah/ai/aj/aq/ax/ay. These standards have further improved the communication ability between network connected devices by introducing various additional features to WLAN such as multiple-input multiple-output antennas (MIMO), Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) etc. improving the data rate, low latency and faster link speed. Other developments in Wi-fi technology have enabled communication in a wide range of frequencies starting from the Sub 1 GHz up to 60 GHz signals.


While an analysis of the above three major factors are essential, do note that there are other factors that affect an organization’s deployment of mobility devices. It is necessary to keep in mind the physical characteristics (dimensions, size of the device, weight etc.) of the device depending on the method of usage. You may not want your end user to carry a bulky / heavy device throughout his or her shift. But such a device can be deployed in a fleet management system. For e.g A device fixed inside a vehicle can be heavy & large as it may need to have a large screen size. The brightness of the screen and anti-glare features are also vital if the devices are going to be used in outdoor locations directly under the sun. This helps the user to view the screen and perform actions under bright light. In some cases, it is necessary to have a device that can be operated with a gloved hand. The ergonomics of the device in terms of key/ button layout and scan window position is also critical in operation(whether to use a virtual keyboard or a physical keypad). In some cases, a scan gun form factor is necessary for ease of scanning bar-codes, while in some locations a smartphone form factor is ideal. Even though I have elaborated and focused on the above mentioned major deciding factors according to my experience in enterprise mobility deployments, there are several other minor factors involved.