Zebra Technologies to Acquire WhereNet

The transaction adds WhereNet's active tag technology to Zebra's passive tag holdings.

Zebra Technologies, which makes passive RFID tags—wireless tags that are activated by radio frequency waves—announced Jan. 11 that it is moving into the active tag market with the acquisition of WhereNet.

ZIHs Zebra Technologies, based in Vernon Hills, Ill., is acquiring WhereNet for $126 million in cash. The transaction, subject to standard regulatory approval, is expected to close by the end of January.

WhereNet, based in Santa Clara, Calif., develops RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags that are, essentially, battery-operated. It also develops the accompanying hardware, middleware, software and services for project management, maintenance and support of its implementations.

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Active tags, being generally more expensive than passive tags, are used to track high-value items and items that are often subject to harsh conditions like weather or moisture—containers being transported on ships, for example.

WhereNet sells its RTLS (Real-Time Locating System) to companies in the industrial manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and aerospace and defense industries. It has more than 150 installations in operation that include its active tags, fixed-position antennas and Web-enabled software, company officials said.

"WhereNet adds another high-growth platform to Zebras business," Edward Kaplan, Zebras chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "Active RFID is a natural complement to passive RFID and bar-coding, two key Zebra strengths."

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