Intermec Announces New Intelligent Reader

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

The IF61 can run middleware, offers Java or .NET development platforms and supports up to 41 gigabytes of onboard user memory.

RFID systems provider Intermec this week announced its newest UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogator, the IF61 Enterprise RFID Reader, at the RFID Journal LIVE! 2007 conference in Orlando, Fla. The reader is designed to enable end users to run RFID middleware and custom applications directly on the interrogator, rather than on a separate server.

The IF61 uses the Intel Celeron M 600 MHz processor and is available with up to 1 gigabyte of flash memory and a 40 GB hard drive. At its exhibit booth at the conference, Intermec is demonstrating the reader running RFID middleware from BEA. Dan Bodnar, Intermec's director of RFID and data-capture systems, says the IF61 also supports IBM's RFID middleware.

Intermec's IF61 Enterprise RFID Reader

Metro, Germany's largest retailer and a major early adopter of RFID technology, has tested the new reader and, according to Bodnar, feels that the device meets its requirements for an intelligent reader.

The IF61 can host applications written in Java, Java Script, Visual Basic .NET or C# .NET, whereas Intermec's previous intelligent reader, the IF5, hosted only Java-based applications. These applications can perform many of the middleware functions end users often run on separate servers linked to RFID readers, such as filtering, storing, manipulating and formatting data from tags before sending that information to back-end systems. The IF61, Intermec notes, is the only reader that provides a localized workbench to load, edit and run Java Script, allowing programmers to test business logic directly on the interrogator, thus enabling faster application development.

"One of the things we're seeing in the marketplace is more closed-loop RFID applications," Bodnar notes, "and for these types of deployments, the ability to run a [closed-loop] tracking application directly on the reader, rather than on a separate computer, allows RFID to be more cost-effective."

By adding flash memory or a hard drive, the IF61 can offer an end user data backup so that if its network goes down, the reader can store RFID read event data locally. It can then forward that data to the network for permanent storage, once the network connection is reestablished.

The interrogator can encode and read tags compliant with both the ISO 18000-6C (EPC Gen 2) and ISO 18000-6B standards. It comes with four ports for antennas (each of which can transmit and receive RF signals) and—like most fixed-position readers on the market—supports light stacks, motion sensors and other peripheral devices. It also supports dense-reader mode.

Intermec offers the IF61 for use under FCC regulations, and also sells versions compliant with the European (ETSI), Korean or Japanese regulatory requirements. In addition, the reader supports the Gen 2 application-level events (ALE) software standard for tag data filtering and sharing, as well as the newly ratified Gen 2 low-level reader protocol (LLRP), which standardizes communication between readers and middleware.

The IF61 is now available. The basic configuration, which comes with 256 megabytes of flash memory and is certified for use only under FCC regulations, costs $3,995. For an additional $150, end users can choose to increase the flash memory to 1 gigabyte and also add a 40 GB hard drive.