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MonsoonRF Shines a Light on RFID

The California startup seeks to make EPC UHF RFID reader installations cheap, easy and invisible, by offering light fixtures and LED bulbs with built-in RFID readers.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 17, 2016

One of the obstacles facing radio frequency identification deployments is the cost and time required to install an RFID infrastructure. Companies wishing to try out a system within a specific area—in order to test the ability to capture tag reads and determine what they can do with that data—must first go through the hassle of installing RFID readers and running cables that connect those devices to reader antennas, to the Ethernet and to a power source.

The three founders of MonsoonRF have developed RFID readers that they say serve to make reader installation as easy as screwing in a light bulb—literally.

MonsoonRF's RFID-enabled light canister (shown here in a version for track-lighting systems) includes a ring-shaped directional RFID reader antenna, as well as an omni-directional antenna that extends from the canister's center for transmitting read data to a control node (receiver).
The system, known as the RFID Lantern, consists of an RFID reader built into a canister (a type of lighting fixture) for an LED light bulb. Several companies plan to use prototype versions of the technology during pilot projects for tracking linens this spring, MonsoonRF reports, and it expects to be taking orders for delivery in small quantities later this year. Sometime in 2017, the firm hopes to also begin marketing LED bulbs with their own built-in RFID readers.

John Armstrong, MonsoonRF's CEO, says he and his company's two other cofounders (Charles Lim, the company's COO and CMO, and Carlos Morales, its CSO), launched MonsoonRF in February 2015 to provide a solution that was easier to install than existing RFID technology. The company envisioned a system that a store employee could easily install, and that could be trialed and removed without the commitment of having to run cables or drilling recesses in ceilings. Not only would the readers be easy to install, he says, but they would also be invisible.

As users of Impinj products and partners of several member companies of the RAIN RFID Alliance, Armstrong, Lim and Morales opted to name their company in keeping with the precipitation theme. Monsoons, Armstrong explains, are downpours that tend to prove beneficial by soaking a drought-stricken area.

The RFID Lantern employs an RFID transceiver with an Impinj R2000 reader chip and two built-in antennas (one for receiving RFID transmissions from tags and another for sending data back to the server), embedded in a canister that can be mounted on a ceiling by either screwing it into a light socket or attaching it to a track-lighting strip. An LED bulb is then installed into the canister's lamp socket.


Charles Nutter 2016-02-25 06:49:06 PM
We at Intellijoule, Inc. in Saint Paul, MN started selling the RFID feature in our fixtures about a year ago. It is an important addition for many reasons. In addition we offer robotic control and drone support for small drones. LED lighting is a crazy rapidly changing business that takes guts and brains in large amounts. Good Luck. Stay tuned.

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