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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

At the point of sale, an Impinj Speedway reader under the counter reads the tags of products placed there. This enables a store's software to remove those items from the inventory list as they are sold.

With the xArray reader installed in the ceiling, a touch screen can be used to view the location of each tagged item within the store, by selecting a particular product size, type or color. The software then displays icons on a map of the store floor, indicating where that item can be found.

Inside the REC's fitting room, an Impinj xPortal gateway reader can interrogate the tags on such products as pants, jackets or other clothing, and prompt the displaying of other items that would go well with those garments.
Creativesystems' Quickstart software application can be used to collect inventory data, as well identify where specific merchandise is located on the sales floor and in the back room. InMotion's software provides the data required to operate the RFID-enabled store displays, including the interactive snowboard display, the smart fitting room and the jewelry display.

"The xArray is a paradigm shift in the [RFID] industry," says Diorio, who cofounded Impinj in 2000 and served as the company's CTO before accepting the position of CEO last month, replacing outgoing William Colleran. The new reader offers what Impinj calls "Always On" functionality, so that for the first time, stores or other end users, such as health-care facilities or distribution centers, can view a tagged item's location or movements via passive UHF RFID technology.

This paradigm shift, Diorio says, was necessary in order to bring RFID beyond the level of a technology that simply scans tags on products somewhat faster and easier than bar codes. When users began utilizing passive RFID in addition to—or instead of—bar-code labels for inventory tracking, he notes, "the shift wasn't that huge," since the use in stores typically consisted of the sales staff walking around a facility and coming within range of a tag to capture data. Now, with the xArray system, the information is simply available to workers when they need it.

That offers opportunities for the item-level tracking of goods for retailers or other businesses in a variety of new ways, Diorio reports. This includes allowing customers to locate a specific item on a virtual map, issuing an alert if an item leaves its authorized area or simply identifying when something has been mis-shelved.

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