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SML Opens Retail Ideation Space for Item-Level RFID

The new center, located in Plano, Texas, is the first of three such sites the company is launching to place RFID technology into the hands of potential users, as well as to host innovation sessions between users and technology providers.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 18, 2019

RFID technology company SML RFID has opened a Retail Ideation Space (RIS) at its RFID Solutions headquarters in Plano, Texas, to provide potential RFID technology users with a place to view, test and create tailored RFID solutions for item-level inventory tracking. The new center signals an opportunity for retailers and brands to begin learning how RFID works in a real-world environment, says Dean Frew, SML's CTO and senior VP of RFID solutions.

The RIS's grand opening, held last week, represents the culmination of approximately nine months of planning, Frew says. "The primary goal for SML," he states, "is to show companies how easy it is to deploy and use RFID for inventory management, as well as helping them tailor a solution that works for them."

The 9,000-square-foot space, adjacent to the company's existing offices, includes a store front, a back room and a distribution center, as well as a labeling area known as the Ideation Studio, for designing custom EPC UHF RFID or non-RFID labels and packaging. Visitors will have access to staff members on site for consultation and design. Technology partners contributing products to the center include Bluebird, Impinj, Microsoft, NXP Semiconductors and Zebra Technologies.

The store front includes approximately 3,000 items, each tagged with an SML tag, including garments and stacked, shelved goods, which can be read via handheld RFID readers, as well as portal and overhead readers. The data is captured, managed and displayed using Microsoft Cloud, hosted on SML's Clarity software platform. SML can demonstrate the use of handheld readers in the store, and a full inventory count of the sample store can be completed within about five minutes. The firm also demonstrates an RFID-reading robot from Keonn Technologies that could automatically capture tag reads outside of business hours.

The center's back room features shelved and boxed goods, with demonstrations related to capturing tag reads via handheld devices as goods are received. The distribution center allows demonstrations of applications for the reading of tagged goods in boxes using a tunnel reader as products are shipped to stores. The company also invites visitors to its software factory to work with developers to innovate new solutions specific to a retailer's or brand's particular needs.

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