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An Interview With Impinj CEO Bill Colleran

Impinj CEO Bill Colleran spoke with RFID Journal Editor Mark Roberti about the state of the market for UHF EPC systems, trends for 2008 and Impinj's product plans.
Everyone we talk to in pharma acknowledges that RFID is the right long-term solution. They are looking at 2-D bar codes as a technology that is here today, helps meet the mandate and gives them time to nail down the RFID stuff.

RFID Journal: What will Impinj focus on in 2008?
Colleran: We have been featuring more prominently our reader antennas. It's an area where we have been innovating for a while. As we've gotten feedback from our customers, we have optimized antennas for different applications in apparel, pharmaceuticals and so on. We'll continue working on those kinds of innovations. We'll also continue to work on integrating our products into solutions that are more easily deployable. The feedback we've gotten from our customers is that while the technology works great, you have to have a lot of expertise to deploy it. What we want to do is make it easier to deploy our products.

In addition to that, we will continue to evolve our product, so we'll be migrating from the Monza 2 microchip to the Monza 3 chip, which will have some additional features and better performance. The same is true of our Speedway reader. On a component level, the focus will be on continuing the evolution of our existing products to make them better, faster and cheaper. On a system level, we're focused on integrating the components more tightly into solutions that address the vertical applications where we see the most demand.

RFID Journal: What are the prospects for near-field UHF?
Colleran: Near-field is bundled with item-level tagging. We think near-field UHF will be huge for the pharmaceutical industry, in apparel and so on. Near-field UHF and item-level tagging are tightly coupled, and that's exciting because we feel Impinj has a leadership position there. One of the trends we see is that item-level tagging will move forward more quickly than case tagging in the supply chain, so that plays to our advantage.

RFID Journal: Any change in the company's go-to-market strategy?
Colleran: No change, really. We will be informing the market about our focus on more tightly integrated solutions that are easier to deploy, rather than just a product focus.

RFID Journal: Where do you see adoption rising in 2008?
Colleran: Apparel is an area that we think is particularly interesting because many of the use cases that contribute to an ROI for RFID are significant in apparel. There is merchandising better to enhance revenue, protection for the brand owner, supply chain efficiencies, electronic article surveillance for reduced theft. Almost all of the applications for RFID come together in the apparel industry. That's the reason we are very focused on apparel.

Europe is significantly ahead of the United States by a significant margin in these sorts of applications. The U.S. has been dominated by Wal-Mart and the drive for greater supply chain efficiencies. But there seems to be few companies looking at other interesting applications of RFID. European companies are looking at RFID more broadly, and there are hundreds of pilots across Europe looking at merchandising and other opportunities for RFID.

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