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ThingMagic Leverages Linux for Flexible, Upgradeable Reader

With an embedded version of the Linux operating system at the core, RFID readers from ThingMagic can be produced and sold quite competitively.
Tags: Standards
Jan 07, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

January 7, 2005—In 2001, a year after its founding by five MIT PhDs, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based ThingMagic was charged with developing the ultimate RFID reader: cheap, frequency- and tag-neutral, and easily integrated with the Internet. Since then, the company has released four incrementally improved versions of just such a reader. One of the secrets to the reader's success? Linux. With an embedded version of the famed open source operating system at the core, ThingMagic can produce and sell its feature-rich Mercury RFID reader competitively.

The latest version, dubbed Mercury4, is, according to ThingMagic VP of marketing and one-time Auto-ID Center executive director Kevin Ashton, one of the most popular readers currently on the market. The reader can communicate over any frequency with any tag protocol, and its capacity for remote software upgrades allows "forward compatibility." That is, rather than having to replace the device when compatibility with future protocols is required, the device's software can simply be updated, thereby sparing substantial hardware upgrade and reintegration costs.

Expect to see more RFID readers offering similar functionality. Some companies have become stuck with tags and readers that don't support the new GEN 2 standard and will be required to upgrade their hardware and software to achieve compliance. Given their ire, and the increased customer awareness about standards and compatibility issues, RFID vendors will start having to include more flexibility in their products.

Linux News has more on ThingMagic
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