The most interesting products and companies at Interop Las Vegas 2011 were found around the edges of the show floor. Companies like NEC, Synology, Ciphertex, and Endace may have gone unnoticed in the shadows of towering booths of the industry titans but deserve attention. One such pairing was two Wi-Fi analysis companies, MetaGeek and Ekahau. Both work together to enable spectrum analysis and site surveying on portable devices — smart phones and tablets.
MetaGeek Makes Spectrum Accessible
One of my personal favorite presentations at Wireless Field Day in March was the awesome startup tale told by Ryan Woodings, founder of MetaGeek. While working on a wireless mouse dongle, Ryan and company noticed RF interference and turned lemons into lemonade: They repurposed the USB dongle as a spectrum analyzer and started a company to make this formerly esoteric technology accessible.
Although MetaGeek’s Wi-Spy is nowhere near as full-featured as the big guys, it’s far more accessible at 1/10 the cost. It’s cheap enough that a home hobbyist could pick one up as a way to learn about Wi-Fi and 2.4 and 5 GHz wireless spectrum. And the Windows software is easy enough that even a storage guy like me could figure out that my home Wi-Fi router was on the wrong channel.
At Tech Field Day, Ryan wowed the crowd with an early peek at an iPad app to interact with Wi-Spy captures. I ran into Ryan at Interop, and he showed me a more-polished version of that app, promising it would hit the App Store soon. He also hinted that an iPhone version would follow, and showed off email and Dropbox integration.
Ekahau Site Survey: Laptop to Android
MetaGeek had a guest in their booth from another company I’d heard of from my Wi-Fi engineer friends: Ekahau makes site survey products for laptops and was talking about an Android version as well. Ekahau’s Mobile Survey supports a variety of Android devices, including the popular Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Droid.
Wireless Field Day exposed me to a whole new world of enterprise IT. The wireless engineers there spend days roaming through corporate facilities doing site surveys, planning Wi-Fi access point installations, and troubleshooting connectivity and interference. Most use Windows laptops, but it’s exciting to think that Apple iPhones and iPads and Android phones and tablets may also be used in the future. These devices are much more portable, with great battery life and interactive screens. And it looks like MetaGeek and Ekahau are leading the way. I can’t wait to get an update from these companies at Wireless Field Day 2 in early 2012!