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Startup Offers Low-Cost RFID System That Can Be Self-Installed

The boxed solution, from RFRain, comes with low-cost readers and antennas, networked to a gateway running filtering and management firmware that can then forward data to a cloud-based server, all within a few hours after the box is opened.
By Claire Swedberg
May 15, 2018

RFID solutions startup RFRain has a goal of making UHF RFID technology ubiquitous, with tags applied to most products bought and sold around the world, and with reading and data-management systems easy enough to deploy that most retailers and suppliers can do it themselves, no matter their size. To accomplish this goal, says Danny Akaoui, the company's founder and CEO, RFRain is offering a turnkey, cloud-based solution that will be uniquely easy to install.

Akaoui's pursuit of a low-cost, accessible solution started when he visited Lebanon and began looking into RFID technology. He had previously worked at Harris Corp., where he invented—and won an Emmy Award for—broadcast router technology. "The experience allowed me to become a very well-rounded engineer," he says, "who is proficient in both hardware and software designs."

Akaoui later joined Washington, D.C., satellite company iDirect to lead a team of engineers that brought the next generation of maritime and aeronautical satellite routers to the market. Following that work, with some free time in Lebanon, he ordered an RFID developers kit from Jadak and began investigating RFID solutions.

"That was when I saw the complexity of building an RFID system," Akaoui says. He found that solutions were typically pieced together to include elements from a variety of vendors, and that users such as retailers, brands and logistics providers often did not make it past the pilot stage. Akaoui says he felt, at the time, that he needed to offer a system that was easier to deploy. "I was never deterred from complex challenges," he states.

The resulting company, RFRain, is an original equipment manufacturer for hardware, as well as a software supplier, that makes UHF RFID products for solutions providers. The firm is based in Sarasota, Fla., and makes its readers and gateways with remotely upgradable software stacks that are built into the hardware.

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