Alien unveils next-generation RFID reader

Supply-chain infrastructure providers like Alien Technology and Symbol Technologies are prepping now for second-generation, or Gen 2, RFID tags expected in the second half of 2006. They're unveiling more capable readers and forming new alliances among the major enterprise software vendors.

Alien announced this week a Gen 2 RFID reader, the ALR-9800, which is a multiprotocol device with improved read performance and speed. Using an Intel XScale processor, it is also Java- and .Net-enabled for embedding "first-pass business logic" in the reader, according to John Price, director of software engineering Systems at Alien. The reader can be run using either a Linux or Microsoft Windows CE operating system.

With intelligence in the reader -- not just in a server -- users can create a request that has the reader looking for tags of a certain type, evaluating the results and notifying an administrator rather than having to poll all of the readers, Price said.

According to Christine Overby, a principal analyst with Forrester Research, putting intelligence in the reader is yet another indication that the enterprise is moving toward a distributed architecture.

The speed of the reader was demonstrated to an audience of Alien partners and customers at its headquarters in Morgan Hill, Calif., by placing 125 tags in a 10-foot high see-through funnel. This funnel had a fan at the bottom that kept the tags in a constant whirling motion. The tags flew around like confetti, and many in the audience stared in amazement as the ALR-9800 captured each individual tag number and recorded it in a matter of seconds.

The ALR-9800 will ship in September and have a list price of US$2,399.

Alien also announced deals with IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle to support those companies with supply-chain software solutions.

IBM and Alien announced that IBM's WebSphere RFID Device Infrastructure Reader middleware will be integrated into the ALR-9800.

Microsoft and Alien jointly proclaimed that the reader is compatible with Microsoft's RFID technology supported by .Net Framework.

Finally, Alien announced a joint initiative with Oracle to partner with Oracle on its Sensor-Based Services business. The ALR-9800 will support Oracle Warehouse Management, EPC Compliance Enabler, and future solutions.

Forrester's Overby said these kinds of deals will also lower the cost of deploying a distributed architecture for RFID.

"Companies can buy [the reader and middleware] as a package from one provider, which lowers the cost and makes system management a lot easier to do," said Overby.

Earlier this summer Symbol demonstrated a Gen 2 reader with the DC600 Portal System, which includes interoperability between EPC Gen 2 tags and Class 0 and Class 1 Gen 1 tags.

According to Justin Hotard, director of marketing at Symbol, the ISO will adopt the Gen 2 standard for international use.

The dense reader mode, which supports deployments of 20 readers in a single location without interference, is another benefit of the Gen 2 technology.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

More about ALRForrester ResearchIBM AustraliaIntelISOMicrosoftOracleSpeedSymbol Technologies

Show Comments