Impinj Adds New Products, Agreements to Its Portfolio

By Beth Bacheldor

The company has announced a new reader chip, a new item-level tracking solution, a new distribution agreement and more.

RFID hardware manufacturer Impinj has made a slew of announcements over the past few weeks, including the introduction of a next-generation family of EPC Gen 2 interrogator chips, a collaboration with RFID printer company Zebra Technologies and RFID tag and label maker UPM Raflatac, a distribution agreement with European distributor CISPER Electronics, and more.

The new Indy R2000 reader chip was unveiled at last week's RFID Journal LIVE! 2009 exhibition. The chip, available now and designed for use in high-end interrogators, is based on the same architecture as the Indy R1000, the chipset Impinj received last year when it acquired Intel's RFID business unit, as well as the rights to sell the company's R1000 RFID chips (see Impinj Acquires Intel's UHF RFID Reader Chip Operation).

Kerry Krause

"Even in tough economic times, we continue to advance our technologies and bring innovative new product lines to market," says Kerry Krause, Impinj's VP of marketing. The Indy R2000 won't replace the Indy R1000, he says, noting, "That will live on, and there will be new R1000 products." For instance, the R1000 is the chipset used in the CAEN RFID EPC Gen 2 reader that is integrated into a new version of Psion Teklogix's Workabout Pro ruggedized handheld interrogator. The handheld can operate in the U.S., European and Canadian regulatory environments, according to the companies.

The Indy R2000's increased performance is suited for more challenging applications, Krause says, including item-level and near-field tracking. Impinj has also added what it calls carrier-cancellation technology, which enables the chip to mute the echo of a reader's own transmitted signal when listening for tags. This technology, he explains, improves performance for item-level tracking.

"If you think about item-level tagging where you have, for example, two tagged bottles that are very close to the antenna, the antenna is transmitting lots of energy," Krause states. "With UHF [ultrahigh-frequency], that can be a challenge if the reader can't handle the significant amount of energy coming into its antenna port. There are many readers that can't handle that."

Impinj also announced an item-level UHF EPC Gen 2 solution at RFID Journal LIVE! that includes a Zebra UHF RZ400 printer that prints and encodes 4-inch-wide smart labels, UPM Raflatac's EPC Gen 2 tags based on Impinj's Monza 3 tag chips, and Impinj's Speedway interrogator and reader antennas. Designed for pick-and-place operations in the manufacturing, information technology, retail and health-care industries, the solution is aimed at helping companies reduce errors, mis-shipments and process failures by enabling businesses to validate a box's contents, even when the package is sealed.

Last month, Impinj announced its packaged Monza 3 chips, engineered to sustain frequent thermal cycling and physical stress—conditions often present in industrial applications such as those in the electronics industry. RFID chips—which are basically dyes—typically come right off of wafers and are assembled into labels and tags.

"That's very cost-effective, but the chips are not very rugged and it requires special equipment to take the die off of the wafer," Krause says. "So we've actually taken the die off and put it into a small package so it can be assembled into a tag using standard semiconductor equipment." The result, he indicates, is a chip that can be embedded directly onto a printed circuit board. What's more, Krause says, Impinj customers can use solder, instead of adhesive, to attach the chip to the antenna "to create hard tags, or hard inlays, that can withstand even greater temperature variations and physical abuse." Packaged Monza 3 chips are available now in production quantities.

In addition to the above product announcements, Impinj has announced that it has signed a distribution agreement with Cisper Electronics, based in Zevenbergen, in the Netherlands. The agreement authorizes Cisper to distribute Impinj's Speedway interrogators and antennas to RFID solution providers throughout Europe. "With Impinj, we have added high-performance UHF hardware to our RFID portfolio, enabling us to offer customers a one-stop shop for RFID products and sub-systems," said Leon de Ridder, Cisper's CEO, in a prepared statement. "Combining Impinj products with Cisper's extensive experience in RFID will prove to be a driver for success."