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Tyco Retail Solutions' Steerable-Beam Antenna Brings Movement Data to Retailers

The company's new IDA-3100 antenna is intended to bridge a gap between a traditional handheld or fixed UHF reader portal and a high-cost real-time location system.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 21, 2015

Multiple retailers in the United States and Europe are trialing Tyco Retail Solutions' new steerable-beam ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID antenna that, according to the company, can indicate not only a tagged item's location, but also the direction in which it is moving. The trials are intended to test whether the new IDA-3100 antenna, used with Tyco Retail Solutions' Sensormatic IDX 2000 or IDX 8000 reader and TrueVue software, can provide details regarding how items move within a specific space, such as a fitting room or doorway, and the ways in which customers interact with products.

Tyco says it developed the new antenna to provide a way to bring greater intelligence to passive UHF RFID deployments without greatly increasing cost. Currently, the company explains, most UHF RFID deployments in stores involve the tracking of tagged items by means of a handheld reader or a fixed portal in an area between the backroom and sales floor. This, however, brings limited information to a store manager. Alternatively, a retailer could deploy real-time location system (RTLS) technology in order to locate all items within a store in real time. RTLS technology can provide a vast amount of visibility, but it is often cost-prohibitive, according to Randy Dunn, Tyco Retail Solutions' director of global sales and professional services. "We saw a gap in the market place," he says, adding that the IDA-3100 is designed to fill that void.

Installed in a dressing room's ceiling, the low-profile IDA-3100 antenna can be used to track which garments are taken into a fitting room.
The IDA-3100, which measures 33.8 centimeters by 37.2 centimeters by 1.9 centimeters (13.3 inches by 14.6 inches by 0.7 inch), is designed to have a low profile and be mounted on walls or ceilings at transition points, such as in fitting rooms, entrances to fitting rooms, point-of-sale areas or doorways. The antenna emits an RF beam that sweeps across the read zone in front of the antenna, thereby reading a tag multiple times as it moves past the antenna, and identifying the direction in which the tag is moving. By knowing the direction of a tag's movement, store managers can track when goods move from a stock room to the sales floor, determine which garments are taken into a fitting room, as well as how long they remain there, or track an item's movement on the sales floor and toward a doorway. The system is not designed to provide RTLS functionality for an entire store, Dunn notes, but rather to operate in very specific locations within the store where product movement may be of greatest interest.

TrueVue software can provide analytics, such as which items are being taken into a fitting room most frequently, and how often those fitting room sessions lead to sales. The software can also provide real-time alerts to personnel, such as when items have collected in the fitting rooms, are no longer in use and need to be returned to the sales floor.

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