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ThingMagic Self-Manages Production

RFID reader developer ThingMagic will control the manufacturing of its Mercury4 line of RFID readers, so that more companies can sell the devices.
By Jonathan Collins
Dec 14, 2004RFID reader developer ThingMagic has stepped in to control the manufacturing of its own line of readers. The move clears the way for a range of other companies without reader design or manufacturing capabilities to enter the market.

ThingMagic has turned to contract manufacturer M/A-COM to produce the full line of ThingMagic's Mercury4 line of RFID UHF readers, which ThingMagic will sell to a number of new partner companies.

Tom Grant
"We will be the source of readers for a number of OEM partners and resellers," says Tom Grant, chairman and CEO of ThingMagic, which is based in Cambridge, Mass. The company says it already has a number of RFID hardware manufacturers and systems integrators preparing to resell its readers. Those partners are likely to announce their entry in to the reader market in the first quarter next year, according to Grant.

Until now, ThingMagic had only licensed its reader designs to manufacturers, including Tyco's ADT Fire and Security business, and Japan's Omron, which manufacturer and sell their own products based on those designs.

M/A-COM, a business unit of Tyco Electronics based in Lowell, Mass., manufactured its first Mercury4 readers in October this year, and, according to ThingMagic, M/A-COM's manufacturing capacity can quickly be scaled from several hundreds units to thousands of units a week as demand develops. It says that order turnaround times will vary by volume, with small volumes available within 30 to 60 days, while larger volumes will take more time.

The switch to managing production of its reader designs stems from growing demand for readers, says ThingMagic. "As the RFID market has evolved, then so has our business model. This move is consistent with the slow but encouraging growth of the RFID industry," says Grant.

ThingMagic's Mercury4 RFID reader, which the company introduced this June (see ThingMagic Bets on Smart Readers), supports multiple protocols and multiple antennas. The reader uses software-defined radio technology to read EPC Class 1 and 0, as well as Matrics 0+, ISO 18000-6B and Philips UCODE 1.19 tags. According to the company, the reader will also be software upgradeable to EPC Generation 2 when that specification is completed.

ThingMagic's Mercury product line also includes the Mercury4h handheld reader design see RFID News Roundup and the Mercury4e reader, which can be embedded to add RFID capabilities to printers, appliers and other systems that need to read and write RFID tags (see New Embeddable RFID Readers).

ThingMagic had already said it would take on responsibility for manufacturing the Mercury4e reader, as part of a deal announced in October in which Zebra Technologies said it would use the Mercury4e reader in a range of its RFID label printers (see Zebra Licenses ThingMagic Reader).

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