Small RFID Reader Enables Store Interaction

Infinite Peripherals' MaglinQ can be attached to a smartphone or tablet with an OtterBox, enabling store associates to access information and share it with shoppers as they browse apparel products, and to fill a virtual shopping basket for those customers.

Multiple retailers are leveraging a variety of handheld readers to capture item-level RFID tag reads for inventory management in stores. The readers have a relatively long read range and can be easily carried around stores when employees count stock. However, when it comes to serving customers, sales associates are unlikely to have such handheld devices available, so opportunities to benefit from RFID tag reads could thus be missed.

That's the problem solutions provider Infinite Peripherals says it is targeting with its new product, the MaglinQ—a small RFID reader with a built-in 1D and 2D barcode scanner that connects to a smartphone's OtterBox and thereby enables employees to carry the device with them as they help shoppers find the products they seek.

The MaglinQ is designed to connect to the OtterBox uniVERSE case system and thus be attached to a user's smartphone or tablet, in order to enable RFID tag reads at a distance of approximately 18 inches. The device is now undergoing pilots and proofs-of-concept (POCs) as part of the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), for Oracle Retail Xstore's Point of Service solution.

MaglinQ resulted from several changes taking place in the retail market, says Nick Schwarz, Infinite Peripherals' retail director. For one thing, employees are increasingly being encouraged to use their mobile devices to engage with customers, and RFID technology companies are building handheld readers to link read data to those devices. However, Schwarz says, "Retailers want something small, slim and lightweight, but at the same time something that's highly functional. As MaglinQ is a dual-purpose solution, it will help retailers reduce costs, consolidate devices and simplify workflows."

The existing products not only might be relatively large, but are also purpose-built items, such as integrated RFID reader sleds for an Apple iPhone 8 or Samsung Galaxy phone. "As soon as the phone's formfactor changes," Schwarz states, "I, as the retailer, have to consider refreshing our mobile solution sooner than I want to. This is an ongoing frustration for retailers." At the same time, he adds, the retail market's omnichannel evolution is boosting RFID technology use, while barcodes are also in use.

Infinite Peripherals customer Levi Strauss is an example of a brand using RFID and barcode labels, while companies like Lulu Lemon, Nike and Perry Ellis are deploying RFID on some of their product labels. That means stores can benefit from both barcodes and RFID tags if they have the right reading and scanning equipment available.

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