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Tipping Point Is Closer, Says Alien CEO

Stav Prodromou, CEO of Alien Technology, says declining tag prices are making it possible for companies to achieve a return on investment for more and more applications.
By Mark Roberti
RFID Journal: Are you seeing companies move toward adopting Gen 2 EPC technology?
Prodromou: The transition to Gen 2 has begun. As a leader in the Gen 1 market, we are assisting customers in their transition to Gen 2.

RFID Journal: When will we see the tipping point?
Prodromou: It is Alien's perspective that the tipping point will happen when people break through the ROI barrier. Many large-scale applications were not economical at prices we saw in 2005. It's not across the board, but there is a payback for many applications, such as ensuring the on-shelf availability of apparel, brand protection and so on. As time goes on and tag prices fall, more and more products will fall into the category where there is a payback.

RFID Journal: What is Alien's strategy for interrogators?
Prodromou: We see three dimensions to the reader question. First, readers are differentiated by performance. There is quite a bit of difference between one reader and another, and end users are becoming more aware of the role of readers in the overall performance of the system—its range, speed, the ability to interface to enterprise solutions and so on. We've been investing in continuing to improve the performance and functionality of our readers.

The second major dimension is form factor. There's a need for other form factors, besides portal readers, including mobile devices on forklifts, handheld devices and readers that are small, light and use less power for palm computers and applications that aren't as performance-sensitive. We're exploring approaches to developing new form factors.

Third is cost. It's not just the cost of the reader itself. It's the entire system cost, including antennas, installation, service and maintenance. It is our goal to drive down the total cost of RFID solutions. We are one of the few technology providers that make both readers and tags. We think that befits the market leader.

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