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Intermec Simplifies Printer Configuration Via RFID

The company's new thermal printer models are available with built-in chips enabling buyers to configure the devices through the box before they are powered on, using an RFID reader and Intermec software.
By Claire Swedberg
With the built-in RFID tag and an Intermec handheld RFID reader product (or any other EPC Gen 2 UHF handheld interrogator), the operation becomes much simpler, the company reports. The customer would need to purchase No-Touch Configuration Windows Mobile-based software from Intermec, which would enable that user to select such configuration details as the IP address, and to then transmit those instructions to the printer's RFID tag. When the printer is later turned on, it can then pull data directly off its tag and configure itself according to the encoded directives.

Tom Roth, Intermec's senior director of printer product management
This process can be accomplished through a closed box, Roth says. What's more, if multiple printers are destined for a single location, and are thus likely to require the same configuration, the software can be programmed to encode the same instructions to each printer's tag. If there are several groupings of readers—for example, five bound for one location, and 10 destined for another—the software also enables the user to set several configuration templates, and to select the appropriate one upon reading the printer's tag ID via the handheld.

In addition, the user can track configuration events, thereby storing data indicating how specific printers were configured—and, therefore, when they were being prepared for shipment to the site where they would be installed.

EM Microelectronic's recently released EM4325 integrated circuit offers several advantages for this application, according to Rene Martinez, Intermec's chief technologist. The IC can operate in either passive or battery-assisted passive (BAP) mode. For customers opting for No-Touch Configuration, Intermec will install the 4-kilobit chip with a battery. By default, the integrated circuit utilizes the BAP mode to enhance RFID read performance. In the event that the internal battery fails, the chip will continue operating as a fully passive tag, though at a reduced read distance. If the printer is switched on, the chip's operation will be assisted by power supplied by that device. The IC also comes with an internal temperature sensor, but that function is not presently in use with the No-Touch Configuration application.

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