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With ItemSense, Impinj Aims to Simplify "Always On" RFID Deployments

The company says its newly released software makes it easier to develop end-to-end RAIN RFID solutions and integrate them with a user's back-end systems.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 06, 2015

Following more than a year of alpha and beta testing, RFID technology company Impinj is releasing its new ItemSense software platform for use with the company's xArray RAIN RFID readers. The software is designed to make EPC RAIN RFID solutions simpler to deploy, Impinj reports, by making it easier to integrate an xArray RFID deployment with an end user's existing inventory-management system or other enterprise software.

That's important, according to Larry Arnstein, Impinj's business development VP, since many of those integrators specialize in enterprise resource planning (ERP) integration. As a result, he says, Impinj expects ItemSense will bring systems integrators to the table who have not initially offered RFID installations. Impinj is releasing ItemSense on a limited-availability basis, the company adds, as it works to sign up more partners and create joint solutions for general availability.

Impinj's Larry Arnstein
Traditionally, Arnstein says, RFID solutions tended to be offered as siloed systems that captured data but operated independently of an ERP system. This has made integration complicated and only available to end users with a large IT department, he notes, as well as systems integrators who are RFID experts.

Impinj expects that to change with the ItemSense platform, which will bring the use of RFID within reach for midsize stores with the help of an integrator that knows their enterprise software. For instance, ItemSense does not require a Low Level Reader Protocol (LLRP) to interface RFID readers from different manufacturers. That LLRP is often foreign to IT departments and integrators, and software integration thus serves as a barrier to RFID deployments. "It eliminates the need to develop on LLRPs," Arnstein explains, "and instead transforms and aggregates the data into useable business insight via APIs [application programming interfaces] that snap into enterprise applications."

With the new ItemSense software, Impinj also announced its Alliance Partner Program, which is intended to provide support to new and existing Impinj partners by offering access to APIs (along with related documents and test data), a developer sandbox, and developer and support resources for testing and integrating ItemSense solutions with the xArray reader, as well as sales and marketing support.

According to Impinj, partners include real-time location system (RTLS) integrators Intelligent inSites and Nedap, IT consultant Booz Allen Hamilton and Detego, a provider of RFID solutions for retailers. Many other partners represent new participants to the RFID market that aim to bring RFID-based solutions to their customers, in retail as well as other industries.

Megan Glasow, InSites Locate product manager at Intelligent InSites, says that her company and Impinj are working together to determine the best joint solution to bring to the market. Currently, Intelligent InSites is testing Impinj hardware in its InSites Test Lab, she says, "to fine-tune use cases that complement our InSites Locate product. We see the potential of bringing additional passive tag location-sensing data into our open platform because it can provide customers with flexible, cost-effective solutions."

Arnstein says there are several trends underway that convinced Impinj of the need for simple end-to-end RFID solutions that could encompass a variety of applications. One such trend is retailers' interest in "always-on" solutions. Many companies have been using handheld readers to conduct daily or weekly inventory checks, he says, and the information gathered that way falls far short of what stores would like to collect. With an always-on fixed RFID infrastructure, a store can track inventory data in real time, as well as capture analytics and offer features to customers, such as smart mirrors or RFID-enabled shoe walls.

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