The Ekahau Location Beacon 2 (LB2) is a unit from Ekahau designed to allow determination of a client being within a room. The unit emits Infra-red, which is picked up by the B4 tag (which includes a small IR receiving aperture for the purpose). In this article we look at how to configure the beacon up, including the options on the various switches.
The beacon has a bunch of settings, by way of:
DIP Switches on the side of the unit
A programmable button inside the unit
The unit itself is designed to sit on the wall, or above a sanitisation dispenser. It has various options for changing the angle of the IR. For example you would use the main IR emitter to cover a while room, while the lower (and much tighter angle) emitter would be used for something like a soap dispenser or sanitisation station. You’d be able to determine that staff have used the station.
For room based certainty, the unit is positioned on the wall, most likely at an angle above the bed, or above the en suite to point to the door. If you set your B4 tags to beep mode, you can walk around the room to determine when you’re in range
It’s a curious and quite non-intuitive way the unit is configured and even turning the unit off isn't that obvious – not sure if this was on purpose from Ekahau to stop any meddling with the unit, or some other reason.
Ekahau LB2 IR Modes
The Ekahau LB2 can operate in five different modes:
Room mode: fills a room with the location beacon signal providing room-level accuracy
Sub-zone mode: creates a sub-zone inside a room enabling bed- or bay-level accuracy
Bed-zone mode: creates a zone covering a typical hospital bed and its immediate surrounding
Micro-zone mode: creates a very small zone inside a room enabling monitoring the usage of certain devices such as hand sanitizers or pinpointing items on a table or shelf
Nano-zone mode: creates an extremely small zone, which can be used for example to control access
The table on the right hand side outlines the various IR options.
Ekahau LB2 IR Power and Blink Rate
The power the beacon operates at and the rate it blinks determine how widely it can be seen and how quickly a client can detect the beacon.
You want to make sure its not possible to enter a room and then exit prior to the beacon being able to see you.
The DIP switches shown on the left detail how these are configured to change the power and blink rate.
Some Observations on the Ekahau B4 Staff Tag
The B4 tags, (one is shown on the right), come with an option for a lanyard – which oddly has a 360 degree swivel mount.
Seeing as the IR detector on the B4 is only on the front of the tag, it doesn't seem to make sense to allow the tag to swivel around - especially as the message screen and the buttons are on the front.
Stick with the short attachment clip and wear on a shirt or belt.
Unsurprisingly, bright sunlight or bright fluorescent lights were found to effect the range of the IR beacon. As strong emitters of IR radiation, its obvious that the beacon could be affected – we found that the main effect was to reduce the effective range the beacon was able to be detected by the tag.
It will still work, but you’ll need to be closer to the beacon to detect it.
Ekahau LB2: Overall Summary
The beacons work to provide a more precise location accuracy than the RTLS signature alone. They are not as simplistic as an on / off scenario when being seen though as they system also takes into RTLS readings into account when determining the location.
There could be a revamp the design to work out a better way to configure them than having to remove the cover and the main emitter aperture could be improved. Overall the beacons do what they’re meant to – provide some confirmation that you’re in the room when you see the beacon.
Negative aspects are that if you want to confirm 100% you're in the right room, you might well need more than one beacon per room - and test one with the type of fluro lights you have to confirm they're not affected. In testing we believe newer LED lights may not be affected in the same way the fluro lights were.