By acquiring Intel's business, Impinj seeks to the broaden market for its RFID solutions.
Impinj, which offers UHF Gen2 radio-frequency identification solutions, is
buying Intel's UHF RFID reader chip operation.
Impinj officials said the acquisition, announced July 10, will round out the
company's RFID portfolio. Financial details were not disclosed.
"Impinj has the high-performance Speedway RFID reader on the market for
long-range applications," said Kerry Krause, vice president of reader chip
products for Impinj. "The Intel reader chip line takes a majority of the
complex RFID design and integrates it into the R1000 chip."
Krause said the R1000 chip, which Intel launched in 2007, integrates 90
percent of the components required for a reader radio and will allow Impinj to
reach the full RFID market and all RFID reader form factors.
"It's a perfect match for Impinj to enable all our customers' UHF RFID
needs," Krause said. "Across vertical markets, end users are finding
an increase in the applications for RFID."
Krause said Impinj will now be able to offer RFID solutions in fixed, mobile
and embedded reader form factors for a wider range of applications, including
manufacturing, asset control and tracking, and item authentication. He said the
capabilities of the R1000 chip allow readers to be smaller, use less power and
be more cost-effective.
For the retail industry, Krause said the acquisition will help RFID systems
move from the back end to the store.
"Deployment of RFID in retail started in the back room and in DCs
[distribution centers], tracking cases and pallets," he said. "In the
early days, there were readers arranged around the loading dock door."
As a result of technological advancements such as the R1000 chip, Krause
said retailers have more recently been able to use handheld RFID readers and
mount them on conveyor belts in DCs.
"Retailers are getting much better supply chain visibility and tracking
products better throughout the DC and the store," he said. "The
vision is to put better technology at the front of the store. This type of
technology is essential for the evolution of that RFID usage model to happen."
Mike Liard, director of RFID and contactless research for ABI
Research, said by acquiring Intel's business, Impinj can build on its historic
strength in developing RFID tags with Intel's reader capabilities.
"Impinj has always understood the real importance of owning as much of
the interface as possible," Liard said. "The
way tags and readers interact is basically a handshake, and that handshake
happens on silicon. Purchasing Intel will improve Impinj's IC [integrated
circuit] capabilities on the reader side."
Liard echoed Krause's comments about new form factors
and lower costs for Impinj RFID readers.
"Historically, price point is an issue for adoption of RFID," he
said. "We have done lots as an industry to reduce costs on the tag side,
but there is a cost concern on the reader and infrastructure side. It will be
great to have the reader cost come down as well."
Dan Berthiaume covers
the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.