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Inventor-e Launches Hybrid Auto-ID Solutions

The U.K. company is offering its Smartie tags and iSite readers, along with apps and software to manage deployments that can combine Bluetooth beacons with EPC and NFC passive RFID tags.
By Claire Swedberg

Inventor-e also offers its SwiftQ reader, which can be mounted on walls and linked to the Sourcerer software via a cable or Wi-Fi connection. The iSite functions similarly, but replaces a ceiling tile and incorporates three pairs of antennas to cover a wider area. The SwiftQ reader has a pair of integrated antennas, but can also take an external auxiliary antenna.

To date, the majority of Inventor-e's customers are distributors that are using Inventor-e's hardware and software to create solutions for their own customers in health care or other markets. Most are located in either the United Kingdom or Germany, Henry reports. These companies are using a variety of solutions based on NFC or EPC RFID so far.

The SmartStores app comes with a SmartSearch function that allows users to locate any asset or consumable item across an entire enterprise.
For instance, Rexel UK, a distributor of electrical supplies, offers solutions for companies that want to track goods and personnel within vehicles. The company's clients are seeking ways in which to manage the movements of goods and individuals in the vans, according to Stuart Axtmann, a Rexel UK national account manager, "to enable the clients' mobile engineers to be a lot more productive and spend less time in their vans." Rexel is using NFC technology as part of its solutions with Inventor-e's SmartStores app. NFC RFID tags are attached to items stored in bins or on shelving units, and staff members use the NFC readers built into their Android mobile phones to scan the tags as they remove those assets from a vehicle. "We had considered bar-coding," Axtmann recalls, "but found that NFC technology was cheaper to deploy, more resilient, easier to use and adaptable to incorporate new solutions as and when they become available."

In addition, Henry says, Inventor-e is developing an access-controlled vending cabinet known as VendNFC, so that individuals can use their NFC-enabled Android smartphones to access equipment. A worker would simply present his phone to the cabinet's NFC RFID reader, which would forward the data to the software in order to grant him access to the required tools or equipment. The VendNFC solution is anticipated to be available within about eight weeks, he notes.

Inventor-e continues to develop the Sourcerer platform as well. John Venter, the company's CTO, decided to redesign the platform five years ago to provide scalability and the potential for extensions, as, Henry says, "the Windows-based platform we were using became too restrictive when we considered our future development plan."

With the redevelopment, Henry adds, "the extensibility of the platform allows us to easily integrate new technologies and hardware, whilst allowing for simple integration to third-party ERP systems." The continued overall strategy behind the technology, he says, is to provide real-time solutions to manage unmanned and manned storage facilities and distributed supplies, such as items stored in vans.

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