EAS: The Next Generation

Checkpoint Systems releases its Evolve theft management platform with new electronic article surveillance features.

Checkpoint Systems is presenting its new Evolve platform as a suite of next-generation theft management tools. Announced at Euroshop 2008 in Dusseldorf, Germany, Feb. 26, Evolve contains a number of features unavailable in previous Checkpoint EAS (electronic article surveillance) solutions.

"The system picks up tags in the field better with new algorithms and technologies," said John M. Gibson, senior director of product management for Checkpoint Systems. "There is a 20 to 25 percent improvement in pick rate."

Gibson said the platform's new technologies include 360RF, which features the 360-degree rotation of RF (radio frequency) signals for better detection of security tags at all angles. He said Evolve also uses the SDR (software defined radio) platform, which provides the ability to operate in several different frequencies and also enables easy software upgrades without needing corresponding hardware improvements.

"You can upgrade the product with the next generation of firmware and incremental benefits and features without ripping out the product set," Gibson said.

He said that in the future, retailers will be able to employ Evolve's antennae to read RFID (radio frequency identification) tags.

Evolve offers built-in Ethernet support, which Gibson said is an improvement on how the system transmits information.

"What better way to communicate data than by using an industry-standard backbone, rather than through a proprietary information conduit as we have historically done?" Gibson said.

He said aisle space between the antennae that reads EAS signals has been increased from 6 feet to 7.5 feet, allowing retailers to have wider aisles at the front of store and still obtain the same amount of theft management coverage with fewer antennae. As a result of the varied technology upgrades, he said Evolve offers increased systems integrity.

"It eliminates ambient noise from sources such as registers," he said. "If the system alarms, it's really [the result of] a tag and really something the retailer wants to know about."

Bob DiLonardo, principle of security consulting firm Retail Consultants, said EAS technology can increase retailers' theft management capabilities.

"Since EAS protects as many items as are tagged, it acts a force multiplier," DiLonardo said. "A security guard can only see a few things, and with video you have to constantly stare at the monitor."

He said EAS technology has been available for about 40 years and that the most recent statistics indicate its retail penetration level is around 50 percent.

"I see EAS an awful lot, especially at large chains," he said. "Its popularity has been fairly steady for the last couple of decades. EAS deters shoplifters and forces potential thieves to go to another store."

According to Gibson, Checkpoint will add the SAM (Smart Alarm Management) alarm analysis tool to Evolve in mid-2008.

He said SAM uses a directional people counter to distinguish between people entering and leaving the store and responds to alarms accordingly.

"If someone is walking into the store and sets off an alarm, it's most likely tag pollution from another store," stated Gibson. "There is a bigger risk of this occurring as EAS systems become more commonly used."