Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Second-generation RFID tags on the way

RFID specialist Impinj will come out with tags and readers based on the so-called "Gen 2" spec for RFID in the second quarter, which will make it the first company to release products for this standard, William Colleran, Impinj's CEO, said at PC Forum, an event taking place this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The new spec essentially expands and enhances the current RFID specifications, Colleran added. The company's Speedway Reader, coming out in the second quarter, can read 1,500 tags a second, he said. The Gen 2 spec also gives the person controlling the tags the ability to kill them, thereby helping with privacy concerns. The tags can also be read at a distance of 30 feet, which is further away than current RFID tags can be read.

Colleran, like many RFID proponents, promises the market will be huge. In 2004, tens of millions of RFID tags shipped. By 2008, 80 million will be shipped annually, and each tag will cost between 5 cents and 8 cents to make.

(By comparison, tags today cost between 15 cents and $100 each, according to In-Stat/MDR.)

"There is no reason 5 cent tags aren't possible," Colleran said. "This is the first market ever for consumable silicon."

Seattle-based Impinj grew out of research conducted at CalTech in the '90s under the auspices of tech luminary Carver Mead. The company has raised $50 million in venture capital, and in 2004 it garnered revenue of $2 million.

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