Dementia Anti-Wandering Using Beacons

The Hong Kong Multimedia Technology Research Center (MTREC) has an interesting project that implements a dementia anti-wandering system using iBeacons.

A paper (pdf) explains how it uses a novel multi-hop system to track targets using mobile sensors. The multi-hop approach extends the sensing area and reduces the deployment cost.

iBeacon Cooperative Tracking

The system uses a particle filter which analyses the temporal and spatial information of the targets to achieve 4.37m and 9.46m tracking error in a campus and a shopping mall respectively.

Read about Beacons in Life Sciences

Fitness Band with Heart Rate and Body Temperature

We have a new beacon, the 1810G in stock that monitors both heart rate and body temperature.

Heart Rate and Temperature

This fitness band can provide real time steps, heart rate or temperature. It also stores the historical data. Data is obtained by connecting programmatically to the device, via Bluetooth GATT, from Android, iOS or other Bluetooth LE device.

Can be set up to provide for social distancing reminders, tested every minute, when two bands of this type come close together (2m).

Being programmable it allows for new usecases such as monitoring groups of people. This might be used, for example, to identify those with an elevated body temperature.

There’s also an iOS and Android app for normal consumer use.

View all sensor beacons

Bluetooth Sensors for Analysing Sports

Nordic Semiconductor has a recent article by Petter Myhre Jun on Wireless Solutions Take Sports Tracking to New Level.

Bluetooth Sports Sensor
SpoSeNs 2.0 Professional Wearable

Petter talks about how location and movement sensors can be used to take athletic measurements for monitoring, analysis and performance improvement. He describes the SpoSeNs 2.0 Professional Wearable built round Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52840 SoC.

However, many types of sports measurement can be implemented using off the shelf sensors. Standard beacons can be used for locating and Bluetooth sensors with accelerometers used for finer measurement of movement.

It’s also possible to measure heart rate that can lead into health related applications. We previously worked on Ultimate Sport Service’s heart rate tracking project. Ultimate Sport provide running race timing solutions. The heart rate tracking project allows Ultimate Sport to collect and display the real-time heart rates of a group of runners.

BeaconZone was a key part in succeeding with our custom heart rate tracking project. From assessing potential challenges in the Bluetooth framework on iOS and Android to evaluating hardware possibilities, we got valuable and accurate advice. The project was delivered on time and we are confident we will be working together again in the future.

Ultimate Sport Service Aps, Denmark

Read about Beaconzone Solutions

Bluetooth in Healthcare

The Bluetooth blog has a recent post on 4 Reasons to Use Bluetooth in Your Healthcare Facility. It explains some advantages of Bluetooth and mentions some uses within healthcare.

Bluetooth can be used as a way of connecting wearables and equipment to other devices. When equipment and people are Bluetooth-enabled, asset tracking and wayfinding become possible. Staff can quickly locate valuable hospital assets and patients in need for urgent care.

Another reason for using Bluetooth is reliability. The article mentions Bluetooth’s adaptive frequency hopping (AFH) that makes communication more reliable in noisy wireless environments. You can read more about the technical aspects in our post on Bluetooth LE on the Factory Floor.

A further reason for using Bluetooth, particularly Bluetooth LE, is low power. Stand-alone devices can work on coin-cell batteries for many years.

The final reason given for using Bluetooth is the ability to create larger site-wide networks using Bluetooth mesh. Mesh can be used for control, monitoring and automation systems without the need for WiFi that can be unreliable and congested in hospitals.

For a further look at usecases, see the post on RTLS in Healthcare.

RTLS in Healthcare

There’s a new Mr Beacon video interview with HT Snowday, VP of Innovation and Technology Development at Midmark RTLS. Midmark and HT are formerly of Versus Technology who were acquired by Midmark in Aug 2018.

Midmark RTLS uses a combination of infra-red, 433Mhhz RF, WiFi and Bluetooth to provide tracking of healthcare assets, care givers and patients. It allows medical equipment to be located quickly, key things such as IV pumps to be effectively distributed (par levelling) and the location of care staff and patients to be controlled and monitored. The Bluetooth part of Midmark RTLS is used more for wayfinding using powered, static beacons to mark locations. Systems also allow for health workflow processes including self-rooming to reduce waiting and queuing for care.

Healthcare is increasingly being provided at outpatient rather than inpatient treatment. This is leading to more clinics and treatments centres and the need for technical sophistication to efficiently process patients.

No mention was given to other crucial healthcare usecases we have come across at BeaconZone such as tracking (and temperature) of valuable medicines, tracking porters, wheelchairs and wayfinding from the hospital limits to reception areas.

Read about Beacons For Life Sciences

Using iBeacon to Assess Elderly Frailty

There’s a research paper by Thomas Tegou, Ilias Kalamaras, Markos Tsipouras, Nikolaos Giannakeas, Kostantinos Votis and Dimitrios Tzovaras of Information Technologies Institute, Greece on A Low-Cost Indoor Activity Monitoring System for Detecting Frailty in Older Adults.

The paper describes a room-level accuracy indoor localization system, based on Bluetooth RSSI, to assess the frailty in older people.

The implementation used smartphones as detectors:

The researchers identified features to classify degrees of movement between rooms:

The system was able to determine rooms to an accuracy above 93%. The results showed subjects with frailty had distinctive movement patterns that could be identified with high accuracy of 98%.

Read about Beacon Proximity and Sensing for the Internet of Things (IoT)

Using Beacons in Healthcare

Russ Sharer, Vice-President of Global Marketing for Fulham, a manufacturer of energy-efficient lighting sub-systems has written an article in Health Estate Journal (pdf) on the use of iBeacons in healthcare.

Russ says it’s often difficult to find life saving equipment in hospitals and many organisations have to compensate by purchasing more equipment than they need. However, in use, equipment still gets misplaced, usually just at the critical time it is needed. He explains how the use of Bluetooth beacons and mesh can solve this problem. The article provides a great introduction to iBeacons and some issues such as the affect of frequency of transmission on battery life.

While the article mentions Bluetooth Mesh and iBeacons, these specific technologies don’t always have to be used. Gateways can be used instead of mesh to allow greater throughput of data. Also, any beacons, not just iBeacons, can be used as it’s usually the MAC address of the beacon that’s used for identification purposes. Using sensor beacons allows further scenarios, for example, monitoring the temperature of expensive medicines.

There are also many more scenarios for the use of beacons in healthcare than are mentioned in the article. Our beacons are being using to track hundreds of dementia patients. We have also been involved in a project to use beacons for navigation in large hospitals. Once there’s a network of beacons in a hospital, it’s possible to add lots of widely varying solutions.

Read About Beacons in Life Sciences

Secure Location Sensing in Healthcare

A research paper recently became available by Paul D. Martin and Michael Rushanan of Harbor Labs, Thomas Tantillo of Johns Hopkins University, Christoph U. Lehmann of Vanderbilt University and Aviel D. Rubin of Johns Hopkins University. The paper, Applications of Secure Location Sensing in Healthcare is part of the Proceedings of the 7th ACM International Conference on Bioinformatics. There are also some associated slides by Michael Rushanan.

The paper considers the use of beacons to track hospital assets and provide for location-based access to patient records. The tracking of hospital assets is an important usecase because staff spend:

“1 hour per shift searching for equipment and the average hospital owns 35,000 inventory SKUs and utilization hovers around 32-48%, with nearly $4,000 of equipment per bed, lost or stolen each year”

The second use, the reading of patient records based on location, is particularly security sensitive. The paper describes an implementation of what they call Beacon+ that builds on iBeacon advertising to make location sensing more secure.

The Beacon+ system uses “monotonically increasing sequence number and message authentication code (MAC)”. This is similar to the (optional) changing id provided by our Sensoro beacons. The concept is also similar to Eddystone-EID that was announced at about the same time this research was ongoing.
The paper discusses using the Translated Midpoint Method rather than trilateration as a method of determining location based on readings of RSSI of multiple beacons. The accuracy turned out to be 1-2 meters in the best case and 9-10 meters in the worst case that produced a better result than trilateration in their specific experimental situation.

As with this and other security sensitive scenarios, the use of changing UUIDs needs Internet access to reconcile ids. Hospital is a suitable case as it can be arranged to have reliable (WiFi) Internet access available. However, in many other scenarios, such as visitor spaces, particularly indoors or when the user is roaming internationally, Internet access isn’t always available. Also, depending on the quality of the Internet connection, a round trip to the server can slow detection response considerably and affect perceived reliability. Hence, secure rolling UUID schemes should only be used as and when security dictates and not as a matter of course.

The paper also mentions:

“There exists an implicit assumption that devices that can verify Beacon+ advertisements are also trusted”

Not all devices can be trusted. Android and iOS devices can easily be rooted/jailbroken and/or be compromised via malware. Hence, secure rolling beacons are only a part of defining a secure solution. As with other secure scenarios such as banking, apps have to make an self-assessment whether they are running on a compromised device.