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Startup SensThys Teams With Alien to Provide PoE+ RFID Mesh

The new readers, known under the brand names of Hydra and SensArray, are designed to be simple and low-cost devices, to create a network of readers in high volume for high read accuracy.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 15, 2017

California technology startup SensThys and RFID company Alien Technology have co-developed an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader aimed at making RFID deployments low enough in cost that users can afford to install a greater number of readers and, therefore, boost their read accuracy.

The new product is available under two names—the Hydra (sold by Alien) and the SensArray (sold by SensThys)—and is designed to use Power-over-Ethernet Plus (PoE+) to daisy-chain both power and data from one device in a network to another. According to the two companies, the network can typically be installed within a matter of hours.

SensThys is a technology spinoff of investment firm InSite Partners. InSite had invested in several RFID technology providers, says Jo Major, SensThys's CEO, and has spent the past year or so speaking with Alien Technology regarding the coming opportunities in RFID technology. The SensArray and Hydra readers are the first result.

The companies found that many RFID deployments were still too expensive for some users in retail, logistics, health care and manufacturing, and that because they needed to control installation costs, businesses often installed a system that lacked the density required for read rates near 100 percent. "Some companies have very expensive, complex readers" that capture UHF RFID reads, Major explains, sometimes with a variety of other sensors built in.

The problem, Major adds, is that customers have limited resources for such deployments. "Capital expenses are scrutinized very closely," he states, "so the number of read points is minimized as much as possible. But that sacrifices the ability to detect tags."

SensThys and Alien thus developed the new readers that would serve as part of a self-healing, daisy-chained or meshed network that would simply capture data and forward it via PoE+, and that would not require conduit for power, or the added expense of intelligence built into the device. The readers could incorporate sensors as well, Major notes.

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