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Top Announcements from RFID Journal LIVE!

Yesterday one of the industry's leading events, RFID Journal LIVE!, opened its doors at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. A number of RFID vendor companies have already made announcements, the top three of which are discussed in this article.
May 02, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

May 2, 2006—Yesterday one of the industry's leading events, RFID Journal LIVE!, opened its doors at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. A number of RFID vendor companies have already made announcements, the top three of which are listed below.
  • Domino buys EIS for $2 million. The UK's Domino Printing Sciences has acquired RFID systems integrator Enterprise Information Systems, known to most as EIS, for US $2 million. Dallas, Texas-based EIS will be incorporated into the Integrated Solutions Group, Domino's year-old business unit devoted to all manner of coding, tracking, and tracing. Gary Page, business development manager of the Integrated Solutions Group in the US, told RFID Update that Domino's selection of EIS came after considering a number of other companies and factors. EIS was attractive because of its "excellent customer base", US location, expertise with RFID as well as other automatic identification technologies, and focus on CPG/Wal-Mart and DoD. This latter attribute was particularly attractive as it complemented Domino's experience in pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and food and beverage. "The basic infrastructure Domino was missing [retail and defense] has been filled with the talent of EIS," said Page. Domino's portfolio of RFID and related track-and-trace offerings is now complete, and the company is ready to "compete with anyone in this industry offering a full-line solution." Read the announcement.
  • Impinj RFID readers become available in production quantities. The Speedway reader from Gen2 silicon manufacturer Impinj is "available in volume", president and CEO Bill Colleran told RFID Update. Announced last year when Impinj released its Gen2 portfolio, the reader includes features like true dense-reader mode, zero synch, a Linux-based API, item-level tagging capability, and monostatic antenna utilization. In addition to the production capabilities, Impinj also announced a channel strategy for the distribution of Speedway, offering partnership opportunities to value-added resellers (VARs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). While Impinj is best known for its Monza chip, which currently powers every Gen2 tag in production, the company's reader business is highly complementary, according to Colleran. By manufacturing both chips and readers, the resulting expertise in one will feed into the other. "Being developers of both silicon and readers allows an understanding of both sides of the fence," he said. Recall that Impinj reportedly won a large chunk of the recent Wal-Mart contract for 15,000 readers (see Wal-Mart to Buy 15k RFID Readers; Albertsons 5k). Read today's announcement.
  • SmartCode offers 5-cent tag pricing. The company has released a press release proclaiming that "The race for the 5 Cent RFID tag is over." The race of course refers to what has long been a collective industry goal: per tag pricing of a nickel. The idea is that at such pricing RFID technology would be cheap enough for massively widescale adoption. Whether that is in fact the case is debatable, but regardless, the "5-cent tag" has become elevated to somewhat of a myth or "holy grail", as SmartCode itself puts it. While the company's announcement is indeed alluring, there are a couple major caveats to understand. First, the pricing is per inlay. Those inlays still have to be converted to usable tags by adding adhesive, liner, sheathing, etc. This conversion process adds a couple cents in manufacturing costs, so the actual tag affixed to a product would in fact cost -- conservatively -- 7 or 8 cents. (By all accounts, this is still phenomenal pricing. The cheapest converted tags announced to date are in the 15-cent range.) The second factor to keep in mind is that the pricing is available only in purchase volumes of 100 million. Such volumes are virtually unheard of, so it is not clear that the industry will accept the pricing as actually available. That may not be SmartCode's intent, anyhow. The company may be interested in demonstrating a path to 5-cent pricing, assuming volume increases, which it most certainly will. Read the announcement.
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