Welcome. My name is Eric Anderson and I am the reader and gateway product manager. I will be hosting today’s webinar titled “Choosing the best RAIN RFID reader.”
In this webinar you will - Learn about key differences between Impinj reader and gateway devices - And how to determine the best reader or gateway for various applications - I will conclude the webinar with a Q&A session
Impinj’s vision is to wirelessly deliver information about everyday items to the digital world, which we believe is the essence of the Internet of Things. This information includes an item’s unique identify, location and authenticity – what we call Item Intelligence.
The Impinj platform is how our vision is realized.
The foundation of the platform is endpoints. An endpoint could be practically anything you want to identify, locate or authenticate. An endpoint becomes identifiable by the application of a RAIN RFID tag.
Connecting the endpoints with software applications is the role of the connectivity layer. RAIN RFID readers and gateways are connectivity devices.
Software includes the applications that consume the information and use it to inform business processes. I will be describing many of these in this webinar.
RAIN RFID readers are handheld readers, fixed readers and gateways. They connect, locate and engage endpoints with RAIN RFID tags. These readers and gateways form a bi-directional, wireless bridge between endpoints and applications.
RAIN RFID readers and gateways provide specific capabilities. Capabilities vary by reader and gateway model
Inventory monitoring is the essential characteristic of a reader. Inventory monitoring is the process by which a reader communicates with a tagged item to extract item information – the item’s electronic product code (EPC), it’s unique identifier and any other item-specific information contained in tag memory.
Tag encoding is the process of writing information into tag memory. An application may require that new information be written into a tag, or encoding may be required to reflect a change in tag state.
Transition detection encompasses - sensing a tag entering a reader’s field of view - tracking how it transitions through the field of view - where it exits the field of view - and then computing the direction of motion.
Item location can be defined different ways. A simple definition is that the tagged item is within the field of view of a reader and therefore it is located near a specific reader. This provides an imprecise determination of location. In this webinar I will use as the definition of location an item’s location within a reader’s view of view – or an item’s x and y coordinates relative to the reader. This yields a high-resolution determination of item location and enables many more applications.
The Impinj reader and gateway portfolio can be segmented into 3 families: handhelds, fixed readers and gateways.
The primary characteristics of handheld readers are inventory and encoding capabilities, reliance on manual operation, mobility, and periodic use. Impinj offers two models: the TSL 1128 for indoor applications and the AB700 for more demanding use cases.
A fixed reader also features inventory and encoding capabilities. A fixed reader is the RAIN RFID engine around which a reader system is built. A system integrator must add one or more antennas to the reader. Care must be taken to match the type of antenna with the tags to be read. There are RAIN RFID tags optimized for various applications. A fixed reader also features general purpose input and output connections used to trigger reader operations and signal read events. A fixed reader also incorporates an Ethernet port for constant network communications. A fixed reader can run continually, enabling always-on applications. Fixed readers are very versatile devices that facilitate custom RAIN RFID solutions. Impinj offers two models: the Speedway R420 features 4 antenna ports and is expandable to 32 using antenna hubs, while the R220 features 2 integrated antenna ports.
A gateway is a self-contained reader system that integrates a fixed reader with one or more antennas. The reader and antennas are housed in a rugged enclosure. A gateway is a plug-and-play solution that can simplify and speed RAIN RFID deployments. Depending upon the model, a gateway can offer advanced capabilities in addition to inventory monitoring. The Impinj xArray R680 features both advanced 2-axis Transition detection and x-y location capabilities. The Impinj xSpan R660 features advanced transition detection along a single axis. The Impinj xPortal R640 features inventory monitoring optimized for entrances and exits.
RAIN RFID is widely deployed in retail applications. Applications include stock management from receiving, to the back of store, to the front of store, ERP reconciliation on either a periodic or real-time basis, retail analytics at the store level (meaning what’s in the store) and at the item level (where in the store is the item located), omni-channel fulfillment knowing how many items are available and where, and point of sale.
The reader to choose for these retail applications depends upon the use case. For example, a handheld reader is best for ERP reconciliation once a week or once a day where an employee walks the store floor and manually inventory items.
A Speedway fixed reader is best for 24/7, real-time ERP reconciliation. Given it’s versatility, a fixed reader can be integrated into counters for POS applications, into shelves for interactive displays, it can be used overhead with appropriate antennas for focused read zones, and it can be integrated into custom retail solutions. A fixed reader is also an excellent choice when tag encoding is required.
An xSpan gateway is best when an always-on, plug-and-play solution is desired. The xSpan features a rectangular read zone and up to 1,000 square feet of coverage which is perfect for many mid-size stores. It is also flexible with regards to installation method – it works well both on a ceiling or on a wall.
The xArray features the largest coverage area – up to 1,500 square feet per unit. It is a great choice for large retail spaces.
Advanced retail applications often require advanced reader features. The Speedway fixed reader, the xSpan gateway and the xArray gateway all feature 24/7, always-on operation for immediate, real-time analytics.
The Speedway reader is very versatile for integration into specialized, retail solutions designed to enhance the shopping experience. Solutions such a smart fitting rooms, shelves and displays.
The xSpan gateway with transition detection is ideal for tag movement and exit applications. For example, tracking inventory from the back of the store to the front. Exit detection and loss prevention applications also benefit from xSpan’s transition detection capability.
The xArray gateway not only features transition detection, it also offers the exclusive location feature. A retailer can use the location feature to map individual items to their locations within the store with an accuracy of about 1.5 meters. In this application example, all items in the store are continually inventoried. If a retailer wants to find a particular item all they do is tap the item’s style, color and size and it’s location in the store is clearly displayed.
Healthcare applications benefit from RAIN RFID. Hospital administrators use RAIN RFID to ensure that supplies are being utilized most efficiently, that patients are accurately charged for only the items they use, and that the correct drugs are being distributed to the correct patients.
Handheld readers are good for manual, on-demand inventory monitoring while fixed readers offer automated, always-on monitoring. Fixed readers are also readily integrated into custom medical devices such as smart supply cabinets and medical waste containers.
The xSpan gateway with its rectangular coverage geometry is ideal for covering a typical patient room or pharmaceutical supply room with a single unit. The xArray is better suited for large spaces within a hospital.
Medical equipment is often on wheels which can make locating these assets a challenge. The xSpan and xArray gateways with transition detection excel at tracking medical assets as they are moved around a hospital or clinic.
RAIN RFID is used in industrial applications. It is used to track supplies throughout the entire supply chain, to ensure that the correct parts and tools are being used during production, and that the finished assembly is accurately built.
A portable handheld reader is useful for reading tags in hard to access spaces where it may not be practical to mount a fixed reader or a gateway. Fixed readers are better suited for stationary read points and for integration into specialized assembly and production equipment. Smart tool carts for example.
The xPortal, xSpan and xArray gateways excel at tracking finished goods in factories, warehouses and distribution facilities. For example, these gateways are used for tracking the placement of cartons onto pallets and pallets into trucks.
The xArray gateway offers the added benefit of providing location information in real-time. Multiple xArray gateways can be networked together to provide complete factory coverage.
What is exciting about RAIN RFID is how it addresses the needs of a growing number of diverse applications. Here are just a few of these diverse applications: baggage handling, table service, race timing, laundry tracking, livestock management, beverage service and numerous recreation-related use cases.
Choosing the best reader or gateway is an exercise in matching the unique requirements of the particular application to the strengths of the reader or gateway.
It’s important to consider coverage geometry when selecting a reader or gateway. <click>
For example, to cover a large open space multiple xArray gateways <click> are very effective. Each xArray can cover up to 1500 square feet with the appropriate tag.
In a narrow space <click>, a few xArray gateways could do the job <click> but may be excessive. The coverage geometry of an xSpan gateway is roughly rectangular <click> and covers the space more efficiently.
An irregular space <click> can be problematic. Using just xArray gateways would leave uncovered gaps. An optimal solution <click>, would incorporate a mix of xArray and xSpan gateways.
Impinj offers multiple software tools to help you succeed in your RAIN RFID deployments. ItemSense and Speedway Connect provide quick and easy integration of real-time, item-level RAIN RFID data into business applications. Or use a developer kit and libraries to develop custom hosted or embedded software applications for unique use cases.
Fixed readers require antennas. Impinj offers various antennas to support a range of applications. We also offer an antenna hub to connect up to 32 antennas to a single R420 reader, and a GPIO box to connect external peripherals.
The Impinj RAIN RFID platform delivers information about everyday items to the digital world. Readers and gateways form a bi-directional, wireless connection between endpoints and applications. Choosing the best reader and gateway for an application requires matching the unique requirements of the particular application to the strengths of the reader or gateway. I have shared many applications. There are many more.
For more information please visit the Impinj website and click on Solutions. There you will find a wealth of information on RAIN RFID applications.
I have time for a few questions. If I run out of time, please visit the Contact Us page to request additional information.