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Mojix's New Reader Antenna, App and Blockchain Aim for Real-Time Visibility

Retailers and brands are piloting the TurboAntenna to capture the locations of tagged items in stores or stockrooms in real time, and the Retail Task Management App to enable store personnel to manage inventory and share tasks using their smartphone or tablet.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 13, 2017

Radio frequency identification and sensor technology company Mojix has released a new set of products aimed at providing hands-free, item-level tracking for retailers and brands. Several stores and brands are already piloting the company's new TurboAntenna with Mojix's STARflex reader to capture items' locations within a store or stockroom in real time. The firm is also releasing the 1.0 version of an app known as Retail Task Management, that enables store employees to view inventory and replenishment details, based on the Retail Task Management software platform, on an iOS- or Android-based device, thereby making stock management easier.

In addition, Mojix is teaming with Microsoft to offer a Blockchain-enhanced version of its solution so that members of an enterprise supply chain—retailers, suppliers and logistics providers, for example—can view their transactions related to RFID tag reads via Blockchain-empowered smart contracts.

Mojix's new technology centers around making inventory management in the retail environment a reliable, real-time, hands-free proposition, the company reports, thereby sparing workers from having to carry handheld readers around a room to capture inventory data. "The original premise of RFID was about automatic data capture," says Scot Stelter, Mojix's product marketing VP. However, he adds, handheld readers have been the low-cost option for many retailers. Deploying fixed readers has been challenging not only due to their cost, but also in terms of functionality.

Mojix's Scot Stelter
Stores, stockrooms and warehouses filled with goods destined for retailers can provide some of the most difficult environments for passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag tracking, Stelter says. The sheer volume of tags, the density in which they are packed and the static nature of tagged goods can make it hard to capture all tag ID numbers at all times via an RFID reader. The large number of reflective surfaces within a store can create a field with high RF energy areas, as well as energy nulls in which RF signals fade. Stelter compares such an environment to an early-model microwave oven that would heat food but leave cold spots.

In the case of RFID, a reader may not be able to interrogate tags on goods stacked in a null zone in which RF energy is low, due to the antennas' reflections and positioning. In addition, the installation of numerous overhead RFID readers around a store or room can lead to interference—especially in Europe, where RFID vendors and users are restricted to utilizing only four radio channels. Due to such interference and the null zones, Stelter says, read rates have struggled to rise above 90 percent or higher.

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