The next big demand on your gyms Wi-Fi - Wearable tech
Wearables if you didn't already know are taking the market by storm, either your members are wearing smart watches that read their heart rates, head phones with built in body coaches or full body readers to detect muscle utilization and exertion, I can guarantee you wearables are already inside your gym.
The vast majority of these wearables to date used bluetooth to communication to an application on the users smart device where the users app would typically look for a connection its cloud service. Bluetooth devices which share the same 2.4Ghz frequency as Wi-F creates the opportunity to congest and interfere with existing Wi-Fi access – something to consider when reviewing your own network issues. Many new wearables entering the market today are also Wi-Fi enabled from Apple, Google and other big brands.
So what does this mean for the Gym network and what impact will it have?
- You now have smart phones being used by a vast number of your members to stream music, receive notifications, calls and for the less intense members... Browse FaceBook and upload selfies.
- You can begin to see the number of connected devices on your network sore above your member numbers with the average member exceeding 1 device per member
- It won't be long until we can see wearables sending more data over the network
- Get ready for more data offloading onto the gyms Wi-Fi network - More capacity needed both from the Wi-Fi and from the Internet connection
- These devices possibly require additional IP addresses - so are you at risk of exhausting the IP supply?
- These devices will likely operate in the 2.4 and 5GHz frequency. 2.4GHz will begin to get very congested if it isn't already in your gym.
- Every device that’s enters your gym and attempts to join your network will reduce the bandwidth available to all devices using the same network
Members are becoming more adapt to using their wearables during their workouts and everyday life, and will expect a good user experience from the network, poorly performing Wi-Fi just won’t cut it anymore.
More than 213 million wearables to be shippments globally by 2020
So what do you need for you Wi-Fi network?
You need to offer consistent speed, availability and reliability.
A few steps can be taken to assess your existing network performance and tweak a few settings to keep it running for longer before the innevitable switch to a more reliable Wi-Fi network is demanded by your members!
- Conduct a member survey - This isn't a technical step but one you should do to aid your business case and get a true picture of your gym users today. You might already be upsetting your members! So consider conducting a survey to gather feedback.
- Conduct a Wi-Fi survey - Their are professional surveys that provide a detailed insight to your network, but their are also a few methods you can try to test the coverage and capacity yourself.
What steps can likely be taken to improve your existing Wi-Fi networks performance?
A few settings and adjustments to your existing network may be just enough to give you extra life within your network before being forced to consider a network refresh.
- Correct placement of access points by moving them to areas where coverage is needed
- Make sure the access points are not covered or obstructed
- Keep the staff off the guest network
- Make sure the reception staff are available to offer assistance to any members needed assistance
- Disable 2.4Ghz and force 5Ghz
- Disable legacy support for A, B, G
- Remove complicated authentication for the guest network
- Disable TKIP and use AES if encrypted
- Consider Channel planning for channel reuse
- Consider transmit power whether to turn down or up the access points volume
What additional benefits can you leverage from your network
You can attach value added services to your Wi-Fi to maximize both user experience and return on investments.
Branding with captive portal - Enabling a branded portal using a third party guest solution such as Guest Manager or possibly the built in functionality offered by your vendors access points allows you to provide an additional touch point of branding, information about classes, personal trainers, charity events, promotions and more.
Social sharing and marketing - Many guest solutions encourage users to Check-In socially or to engage with them on social media. What's great about this? It's free advertising for your gym as friends of potential similar interests are getting updates from your members about their gym.
Member Statistics - There are a few similar solutions on the market depending on the manufacturer of the Access Points, but if you have a Ruckus Network, a solution such as RetailOne offers an analytical platform. Albeit a solution targeted for retailers, it can be used to gather additional intelligence about your member’s. You can gather detailed information on areas of the gym that are highly used during peaks of the day, where and how long people linger in the café area and more.
Any gym manager will already know from experience where and when the congested areas are, but for those who would like more statistical analysis to support decisions when deciding what classes to put on at what time, or what marketing efforts are helping entice members into the café area and keeping them within the café, the reports that can be extracted to provide visual reports and such management decision trackable.
Source: IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker June 2016