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Zebra, OAT Partner on Solutions Combining Passive and Active Tags

The companies will incorporate OATSystems' passive RFID middleware into Zebra Technologies' existing RTLS products, enabling customers to track goods and assets using active and passive RFID on a single platform.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 12, 2012Zebra Technologies has announced that it is partnering with Checkpoint Systems' OATSystems division to incorporate OAT's passive-tag radio frequency identification middleware into some of its own products. The partnership will enable Zebra Technologies to sell hybrid solutions to its customers, enabling them to employ both active and passive RFID tags, with data from both systems being managed and stored on a single software platform.

The agreement provides Zebra with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) software license for OATxpress, which is part of Checkpoint's OAT Foundation Suite. The first products from Zebra to use OAT middleware are expected to be made available later this year, according to Lou Chauvin, Zebra's VP of product management and engineering, though he does not specify when this will occur. For its part, says Prasad Putta, OATSystems' general manager and the executive VP of merchandise visibility at Checkpoint Systems, Checkpoint will offer its middleware solution with Zebra products to its own customers (users of passive RFID technology) that request the hybrid options.

Zebra Technologies' Lou Chauvin
Zebra Technologies has long been a manufacturer of a variety of printer-encoders for passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID labels, and has been a provider of Wi-Fi-based active RFID tags and real-time location systems (RTLS) since 2007 (see Zebra Buys WhereNet). Customers of Zebra's printer-encoders include retailers from around the world (for examples, see Grupo Éxito Launches Major Electronics Tagging Pilot, RFID Helps Florida Shoe Retailer Keep Its Customers From Walking Away and RFID Makes Common People an Uncommon Store). On the other hand, many of its other customers are in the industrial or government sectors, such as aerospace, defense or manufacturing, and use Zebra's RTLS solutions to track the locations of tools or equipment within a facility using active tags. Increasingly, Chauvin says, customers have sought to augment their existing RTLS setups with passive technology, in order to track items that may move through a supply chain or throughout their facility, but that do not require RTLS monitoring.

OATSystems' customers include not only retailers, but also such companies as Rockwell Collins, a provider of aviation electronic equipment (see Rockwell Collins Explores Ways to Benefit From RFID), and Parker Hannifin, an $11 billion manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems to industrial and aerospace manufacturers, such as Airbus (see A Flurry of High-Memory Tags Take Flight).

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