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New Hybrid Bar Code-RFID Reader

Sirit Technologies and HHP are creating a handheld that lets companies read RFID tags and bar codes.
By Bob Violino
Oct 16, 2003By Jonathan Collins

Oct. 17, 2003 - Bar codes aren't going away any time soon, so companies will need devices that can read RFID tags and scan bar codes. The market is responding. Sirit Technologies has teamed with HHP to put Sirit's RFID reader module in HHP's Dolphin handheld bar code scanner.
HHP's Dolphin

Mississauga, Ontario-based Sirit is convinced that companies will shift to RFID gradually and will deploy the technology alongside existing bar code systems. "The ultimate winning strategy [in RFID] is going to be around giving customers dual modality so that they have an upgrade path from their existing bar code investment to support RFID at the palette and carton level over the next few years," says Fred Veinot, Sirit's VP of marketing and strategy.

Sirit specializes in supplying RFID readers and technology as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for other vendors to include in their offerings. The alliance with HHP, Skaneateles Falls, N.Y.-based maker of optical scanning equipment, follows the same model. Sirit will supply its OEM RFID reader module to HHP.

Sirit's RFID reader currently supports both low-frequency (134.2 KHz and 125 KHz) and high frequency (13.56 MHz) RFID tags. The company says the hybrid handheld device will begin shipping in the fourth quarter. "This will put customers in the position of not having to have two levels of technology," says John Freund, Sirit’s VP of sales. "They don’t want to have to buy two handhelds where one will do."

According to Sirit, prototypes of HHP’s Dolphin mobile computer product lines with Sirit’s RFID reader module have already been deployed in a number of trials in Europe and in the United States with existing HHP customers. These include systems integrators and end users in the retail and transportation segments on pilot RFID mobile computing projects.

Wal-Mart’s announcement that it will require suppliers to begin putting RFID tags on pallets and cases beginning in 2005 has spurred interest in RFID and helped cement plans for the Sirit/HHP joint development, according to Sirit. The vendor plans to deliver an RFID reader module to support ultra-high frequency tags based on the Electronic Product Code specification developed by the Auto-ID Center. No delivery date has been set for the UHF handhelds, but Sirit says it's eager to make them available for customers looking to meet Wal-Mart’s deadline.

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