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Zebra Launches RFID-enabled Overhead Sensor

The SmartSense for Retail system combines video, micro-locationing and radio frequency identification technologies to help retailers improve omnichannel fulfillment and reduce shrinkage.
By Mark Roberti
Jan 10, 2017

Zebra Technologies today announced the introduction of its SmartSense for Retail system, which the company says will help retailers to improve on-shelf availability, enhance the shopping experience, reduce the incidence of shrinkage and boost sales.

The solution includes a hardware device designed to be installed in a grid pattern within the ceiling of a retail store. The device combines passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) radio frequency identification readers with video and micro-locationing technologies. Software combines data from the multiple sensors, says Thomas Bianculli, Zebra's chief technology officer, thereby enabling retailers to collect data regarding what is happening in the store in near-real time.

SmartSense's video analytics software includes heat maps.
Bianculli describes SmartSense as "probably the biggest launch of a product of this type in the retail space" in Zebra's history. "We're combining infrastructure components with software and services to create a smarter environment," he adds.

Zebra's Thomas Bianculli
The SmartSense devices, designed to be installed in the ceiling approximately 40 to 50 feet apart, create zones of RF energy to detect RFID-tagged inventory in the area. The system also includes software that can be hosted either on premises or in the cloud.

"We bring all the data to the server and provide a real-time view of what's happening in the store," Bianculli explains. "Retailers can know, in real time, where inventory is. They can locate staff, and our micro-locationing technology allows them to locate Zebra devices used in the store."

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