Wireless LAN company Aruba has published an interface so third party applications can use location information from its WLAN system. First up to use it is location specialist Ekahau.

Aruba quietly included the API in its Mobility Management System, announced last month, but has only now announced it, along with a demonstration from Ekahau of what it allows.

"Location information is essential to applications including inventory
management for retail, and patient care delivery for healthcare," said Peter
Thornycroft, product manager for Aruba Networks.

The API passes 3D coordinates of 802.11 devices or tags to applications, such as asset tracking, along with floor plans, including access point (AP) locations. The interface also hands over information about RF coverage and interference, and perceived signals strengths of different Wi-Fi devices.

It also includes nitty-gritty stuff like raw calibration data, including signal strength between APs, and AP location calculations, which developers can use to build their own applications.

"As the market for location-based applications continues to expand, we believe open interfaces such as Aruba's location API can accelerate growth by enabling new applications and providing customers with a choice," said Tuomo Rutanen, vice president of business development for Ekahau.

Ekahau organised its software as separate layers over a year ago, with a real time locations system (RTLS) application running over the company's own positioning engine. This architecture made it easier to put the applications on Aruba's API.

The two companies are strutting their location-detecting stuff this week at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS) show in San Diego. Healthcare has been the earliest market for WLAN-based location services, with some hospitals using the systems to track the location of expensive equipment such as mobile crash carts, or even doctors.

Customers with the basic ArubaOS get a subset of the location API, while the full thing is included in Aruba's Mobility Management System.