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Intel Unveils RFID System for Retailers

Levi Strauss has been piloting the Intel Retail Sensor Platform—designed to make RFID deployments easier and provide real-time inventory data—at one of its stores.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 18, 2015

Intel Corp. is marketing the Intel Retail Sensor Platform, an RFID-based system designed to make retail radio frequency identification deployments easier, as well as enable inventory tracking to be performed in real time. The platform consists of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID readers with integrated antennas, wired to an Intel Gateway device that forwards the data to a server. The platform also includes an Intel application programming interface (API) that allows RFID systems integrators to write software for linking the RFID data to a store's existing software.

Since this past spring, Levi Strauss and Co. has been piloting the Intel Retail Sensor Platform at its Levi's Plaza store, located at its headquarters in San Francisco. That pilot is still ongoing, says Dan Gutwein, director of retail analytics for Intel's Retail Solutions division (part of the company's Internet of Things group), who announced the new product's release at RFID Journal's RFID in Retail and Apparel 2015 event, held yesterday in New York.

The Levi's Plaza store, in San Francisco, is piloting the Intel Retail Sensor Platform.
At the Levi's Plaza store, Intel installed approximately 21 readers (each complying with the EPC Gen 2 standard) and a single Intel Gateway device, with Smartrac providing the software that integrates the reader data with Levi Strauss' back-end software. Gutwein says the Retail Sensor Platform supports any of its Gateway models, but in this case, the platform used one made with its Core i7 processor. The Retail Sensor Platform is about 34 to 40 percent faster and easier to install than a traditional reader and antenna deployment, he reports.

At the Levi's Plaza store, Gutwein says, the Intel Retail Sensor Platform was able to provide nearly 100 percent inventory accuracy within a few days of the solution being activated. The store managers know not only what is in the store at any given time, but also when anything moves, and in what direction. With this data, he explains, the Levi's Plaza store can track which products are taken to the fitting rooms and which are actually tried on, and then compare that information against the point-of-sale data.

The Intel Retail Sensor Platform features an RFID reader with an integrated antenna and power-over-Ethernet.
Levi Strauss declined to comment, though in a video posted online yesterday by Intel, Noah Treshnell, Levi Strauss' senior VP of retail and global retail capabilities, said, "We're interested in technology that is going to enhance and improve the consumer experience in our stores." That can be done, he explained, through inventory accuracy, by ensuring that all sizes and styles of jeans are onsite, and on the right shelves where customers are seeking them.

Intel is already preparing to launch Retail Sensor Platform pilots at stores operated by several other retailers, Gutwein says, and will work with solution integrators to enable those pilots. The company is also taking orders for the readers, with shipping slated to begin in March 2016.

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