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Motorola Invests in Semi-passive RFID

Last week battery-assisted passive RFID provider Intelleflex announced $15.5 in Series C funding, co-led by Motorola. The two companies will collaborate on the development of future products, which both will sell. Intelleflex's total funding now tops $42 million.
Dec 17, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

December 17, 2007—Last week battery-assisted passive RFID provider Intelleflex announced $15.5 in Series C funding. Specializing in "battery-assisted" RFID, the Silicon Valley-based company targets the aviation, yard management, logistics, and hospitality sectors, as well as other asset-tracking applications.

Intelleflex's battery-assisted technology, also called "semi-passive" or "semi-active," is something of a hybrid between passive and active. Unlike standard passive tags, battery-assisted tags include a battery that provides power to the tag chip. This allows for all of the energy received from the RFID reader to be allocated to broadcasting information, which results in a stronger signal from the tag. In contrast, pure passive tags use the RFID reader energy to power the chip and transmit information. Battery-assisted tags differ from fully active tags in that they still require stimulation by an RFID reader to broadcast information; in the absence of a reader signal, they lie dormant.

Intelleflex CEO Richard Bravman told RFID Update last year that its Gen2 battery-assisted technology offers a "best of both worlds combination" between active and passive: the benefits of the standardized Gen2 platform, but with read ranges more commonly seen in active RFID technology. With 64 kilobytes of memory, the company's tags also offer considerably more storage than their typical Gen2 counterparts. Such extended memory is critical in certain RFID applications such as airline part maintenance tracking, a niche in which Intelleflex leads after being selected by Boeing last year to provide tags for the maintenance-significant parts of the 787 Dreamliner.

Motorola co-led the Intelleflex investment, which the company deems "strategic." Indeed, the two companies will collaborate on the development of future products, which both will sell. ARC Advisory Group's Chantal Polsonetti smiled on the deal. "The battery-assisted passive RFID technology from Intelleflex has always been compelling for its potential to enable incremental sensing, on-board memory, and other capabilities necessary for manufacturing and related applications," she commented. "This relationship with Motorola adds to the value proposition by providing customers with the security of dealing with a large, established supplier. Adding to the appeal is the fact that both companies had independently targeted the same focus applications, asset/WIP tracking, yard management, and others, prior to this relationship."

Recall that before joining Intelleflex, CEO Bravman was a 26-year veteran of Symbol Technologies, which Motorola acquired last year for $3.9 billion. Bravman had been employee number five at Symbol, and eventually rose to become CEO before leaving in 2004.

The funding brings the company's total to $42.3 million, having received $11.3 million in an A round and $15.5 million in a B round last July (see RFID Provider Intelleflex Lands $15.5m). Arcapita Ventures co-led with Motorola, and existing investors Morgenthaler Ventures, Woodside Fund, Alloy Ventures, and Selby Venture Partners participated as well.

Read the announcement from Intelleflex
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