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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

"We see RFID completely differently than our competitors," says Neil Mitchell, Alien's senior director of marketing. "Our goal is to drive down the cost as far as we can." To do that, he explains, the companies developed a system with "a high number of very simple readers." The goal, he says, was "to crush overall system costs."

In fact, Mitchell adds, the companies have found that the lower cost of reader hardware, along with reduced installation and operations expenses, meant that deployments were 40 to 55 percent cheaper than the cost of a standard UHF RFID system. With that reduction in cost, he indicates, businesses could more easily add readers as needed.

Jo Major
Whether under the Hydra or SensArray brand name, the passive UHF RFID reader uses 30 decibel milliwatts (dBm) of power and comes with a 10-inch, 8.5 dBic antenna. The device has a built-in four-port Ethernet and a bidirectional PoE+ switch to network readers together. It can operate as a single standalone reader or be daisy-chained into a string of collaborative read points.

The devices, when daisy-chained, would act as intermediaries sending read data back to a server, where software would manage that data. Alternatively, they can connect to a more intelligent reader, such as Alien's ALR-F800-X with Emissary software, which replaces the need for a server.

The Hydra and SensArray flat readers are sized the same as most 10-inch RFID antennas, with a profile of 250 millimeters by 250 millimeters by 21 millimeters (9.8 inches by 9.8 inches by 0.8 inch). One version of the reader has two Ethernet ports supporting data and PoE+ power in and out for daisy-chaining, while the higher-priced version supports three PoE+ Ethernet ports (the third port is used to provide greater data robustness or for connection to more power). DC power is also offered on this model. Both models have self-healing capabilities so that if one daisy-chained device loses its power and data connection, the others can reform the network around it.

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