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Impinj unveils new reader chip designed for lower cost apps

RFID technology solutions will soon become more affordable for a wider array of applications that don’t require high-octane and expensive readers. Driven by customer requests for lower cost readers for some of the simpler yet creative RFID apps hitting the market, Impinj last week unveiled its Indy® R500 reader chip, developed specifically to address the emerging market for hand-held, desktop and embedded RFID readers.

The R500 RFID reader chip uses the same software architecture as the Indy R1000/2000 versions and enables UHF Gen 2 readers with the lowest development times and per unit cost on the market while ensuring the highest standards of quality, reliability and performance inherent in Impinj’s Indy products

“There is a huge growth surge happening in RFID being driven not only by retail but simultaneously by an expanding bubble of different applications,” says Scot Stelter, senior director of product marketing for Impinj. “So there is a diversification of application types as people apply RFID to more problems.”

That has led to greater demand for less expensive readers. Sharing a common architecture with all members of the Indy reader chip product line, the R500 is drop-in compatible with the high performance Indy R2000. The common architecture employed across the Indy product line significantly benefits RFID hardware vendors because design effort can be reused across multiple development projects addressing different market segments. Designed to meet regulatory requirements in over 100 countries, the Indy R500 also accelerates time-to-market by simplifying attainment of government certifications worldwide.

Impinj expects that its partners will have products developed and in the field by the first quarter of 2011.

Stelter says a very interesting market is opening up for applications that add RFID to devices that are not primarily RFID readers, such as the Coca-Cola Freestyle drink dispenser, which uses RFID to track the flavor cartridges inside the machines.

“The drink dispenser has four Indy chips inside it and they provide the ability to read the tags in syrup cartridges so that the machine can trigger supply chain replenishment,” he says. “We’re seeing a growing need for that kind of application. Virtually all of these embedded apps have very low range and speed requirements, so this chip is ideally targeted for them.”

Impinj execs say that while some users will drop the R1000 in favor of the lower cost R500, they don’t anticipate a dropoff in sales whatsoever.

“The straight answer is no,” says Stelter. “We do expect some people who might use the R1000 to convert to the R500.  But the industry growth is so rapid, and we’re seeing growth across the R1000 and the R2000, so even with the R500 those two will continue to grow. The R500 will fill an expanding void for new applications so we think the R1000 is not going to be greatly affected by the R500. It’s [market] will definitely increase.”

Click here to read the Impinj release on the R500.

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