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Impinj Is on the Move

The pioneering RFID company plans to switch to a larger headquarters in 2015, and to continue work at its lab and Retail Experience Center to further develop its xArray "Always On" UHF RFID reader, Monza chips and new Item Intelligence software.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 31, 2014

During the development of its xArray reader in 2013 (see Impinj Unveils New UHF Readers for RTLS Applications, Embedding in Other Devices), Impinj realized that it had outgrown its research and development space. The xArray reader was being designed to identify the locations of merchandise throughout a store or other open space, providing real-time tracking of items via passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags. The RFID company, residing on a single floor of an office building in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, felt that it would require additional space in order to be able to fully test and measure what the xArray would be able to do as it was being developed.

Fortunately, the supermarket across the street vacated its space, and Impinj was able to lease the building and moved in. The result is the Retail Experience Center (REC), a 1,500-square-foot windowed area in which the RFID company has set up a mock store containing up to 500 tagged products, selling snowboarding equipment and clothing (as well as jewelry), and the Impinj Design Lab (IDL), an 8,500-square-foot space in the back of the building, in which testing and development are underway (see RFID News Roundup: Impinj Opens Retail Experience Center).

At the 1,500-square-foot Retail Experience Center, an xArray reader mounted on the ceiling tracks the locations of tagged products in real time.
The site is a good fit for Fremont (known as the Silicon Canal), where technology companies such as Google, Adobe and Tableau Software share space with shopping and dining establishments that target creative, young and educated consumers. At the new lab and the REC, Impinj's customers and other interested parties can view the store of the future, while the company's engineering takes place in the back room. This helps the company not only showcase what the xArray and Impinj's other RFID readers and tags made with its chips can do, but also creates a forum for conversations between potential users and the engineers who design the technology to better create solutions for tomorrow's use cases.

This is all part of a new stage of growth for Impinj, says Chris Diorio, Impinj's CEO, involving EPC RFID technology and the ways in which passive UHF tags can be used affordably to collect real-time, location-based data.

In fact, the company's swelling ranks (with 20 new hires during the past six months across all of its departments) has led it to seek a new home for its offices in the South Lake Union area of Seattle, while the IDL and REC will remain where they are. The firm now has about 150 employees, known internally as "Pinjers." Earlier this month, Impinj announced plans to move its headquarters to the 11th and 12th floors of a new 14-story office on Fairview Avenue toward the end of 2015. The new 52,000-square-foot space is 50 percent larger than its current 36,000-square-foot HQ in Fremont.

At the ILD, Alberto Pesavento, Impinj's chief hardware architect, has led development work related to the xArray as it moves into full production. Researchers have used the space to test the xArray with a floor grid of 13,000 passive UHF tags made with Impinj's Monza 4, Monza 5 and R6 chips. The tags, manufactured by Impinj and other vendors, are sandwiched between foam mats above the rebar concrete floor, and are designed to protect the transponders from potential damage due to people trodding on them. With multiple xArrays mounted on the ceiling, Impinj has tested a variety of scenarios involving various tags positioned at numerous locations and in different orientations on the floor, in order to learn how to optimize what Impinj calls its Item Intelligence solutions.

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