Impinj Launches Industry’s First RFID Gen 2 System

Impinj announced on Monday the roll-out of its GrandPrix, a set of RFID tags and readers touted as the first RFID system to comply with EPCGlobal’s emerging Generation 2 protocol.

In an interview with CIO Insight, Impinj Inc. President and CEO William Colleran said that GrandPrix includes the new Monza Gen 2 RFID tag chip, along with Speedway, a multiprotocol radio-frequency identification reader, and new antennae.

The new Speedway reader supports both Monza and other Gen 2 and EPCGlobal Inc. Gen 1 RFID tag chips, including both Class 0 and Class 1 Gen 1 chips.

Impinj previously introduced Zuma, a Gen 1 Class 0 chip billed as the first field-rewriteable RFID tag in the industry.

The vendor is targeting its new GrandPrix family mainly at distribution-warehouse applications, Colleran said.

Although there will be future iterations of RFID beyond Gen 2, Gen 2 brings big improvements over Gen 1 in terms of accuracy, performance speeds and global interoperability, according to Colleran.

“In Gen 1, you had tags that would only work in certain countries. Gen 2 tags will work in all countries,” Colleran said.

GrandPrix also meets Gen 2’s requirement for dense-reader operation, according to the CEO. This new mode is designed to provide better accuracy and performance in crowded warehouse environments by preventing interference among RFID devices.

In a separate interview, Mike Meranda, president of EPCGlobal U.S., said the final Gen 2 specification leaves the door open to vendors to meet Gen 2 requirements in multiple ways—either by licensing technologies from Intermec Technologies Corp. or by using approaches that don’t depend on Intermec patents.

Intermec is the only participant in EPCGlobal to be charging other vendors licensing fees for its RFID IP (intellectual property), according to Meranda.

Impinj’s new GrandPrix lineup uses Impinj’s own proprietary “spectral planning” technology to support Gen 2’s requirement for dense-reader operation, according to Colleran.

“Readers collide with readers, but not with tags. Readers filter interfering readers from their tag responses,” he said.

But although Impinj’s Speedway RFID tags will interoperate with other Gen 2 and Gen 1 RFID tags, the company’s value-added technology for achieving “dense reader” operation will only work across end-to-end GrandPrix systems, Colleran said.

Sampling immediately, GrandPrix is slated for full production by the end of the second quarter, a time frame right in line with industry analysts’ most optimistic predictions for Gen 2 products.

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