ThingMagic End User Successes Highlight 2015 RFID Journal LIVE!

Posted by Shannon Downey on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 12:53 PM


The RFID industry’s most hotly-anticipated event – RFID Journal LIVE! – came and went with the same fanfare it has for many years. While we were hosting a variety of demonstrations of our latest innovations in the ThingMagic booth, a few of our closest partners were recognized with RFID Journal Awards for the impressive solutions they’ve brought to market using ThingMagic technology. Here’s a taste of a few of our partners’ award-winning technology implementations.

Interstate Batteries – Best RFID Implementation

If you caught the keynote speech from Bruce Hellen, Director of Business Practices for Interstate Batteries, you likely heard a bit about the application that won them “Best RFID Implementation.” Using ThingMagic M6e modules as part of a solution developed by Seeonic, Interstate Batteries created a better means of collecting and visualizing battery inventory. As the largest US supplier of automotive replacement batteries, deploying 2 million RFID-tagged batteries, 2,200 RFID-enabled storage racks and 29 RFID-enabled delivery trucks brings them closer to full automation and clearer operational visibility.

Phase IV Engineering – Coolest Demo

Phase IV Engineering demoed a backpack they’ve designed using ThingMagic’s Vega reader and a telescoping wand antenna for reading tags in hard-to-reach places. Phase IV is currently deploying the technology with L-7 Services in the construction of the Northgate Link Extension light-rail tunnel in Seattle. The solution uses high-precision RFID technology to measure differences in strain and pressure on the steel reinforcing bars holding the train’s tunnels together.

Phase IV Engineering – Most Innovative Use of RFID

NASA also collaborated with Phase IV Engineering on an RFID solution for the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center that incorporated our ThingMagic Vega reader designed for operation in harsh environments. By outfitting urine processing units with temperature sensors, NASA and Phase IV were able to use RFID to take a new approach to water conversation and sustainability in their facilities.


In addition to our award-winning partner accolades, it was great to show conference-goers the fruits of our research and development in bringing a number of new technologies to market. Below is a snapshot of a few of the innovations we had in our booth: 

ThingMagic Nano – the Nano is the newest addition to our Mercury6e Series of modules and our smallest, lowest power consumption and most cost-effective module yet. By further broadening the suite, developers gain embeddable options and are now in a position to plug low cost, low power RFID components into their solutions when applicable and still use larger high-power modules when part of an application still requires greater bandwidth and read rates. Because our universal Mercury API spans the entire suite, customers are free to expand their solutions and integrate the technology immediately into existing systems. For the full background, make sure to check out the Nano datasheet and see its recent feature in RFID Journal, “Trimble Shrinks UHF RFID Reader Module.”

Mercury xPRESS Sensor Hub – last fall we launched the latest version of our unique development platform, the Mercury xPRESS Sensor Hub. With a flexible development tool in their hands, we enabled developers to bring up a fully functional RFID reader in minutes, meaning OEMs are bringing new solutions to market in half the time they used to. You can brush up on Sensor Hub's specs here.

Autonomous Operation – Earlier this year we issued a firmware update to include Autonomous Operation. If you weren’t able to stop by the booth at the show to see us demo the new features, such as how quickly a module could recover if its power source were removed, check out the full details behind it in our blog post on the topic.


In its 13th year, RFID Journal LIVE! continues to be a stage for some of the most innovative companies in RFID to launch the newest and most exciting applications of our technology. It was great to be a part of it yet again and we’re looking forward to seeing you all again next year!

Interstate Batteries Wins Best RFID Implementation at RFID Journal Live 2015

Posted by Shannon Downey on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 @ 04:35 PM

Tags: RFID Journal LIVE

Great news from this year's RFID Journal Live show that was held last week in sunny San Diego.  Interstate Batteries won Best RFID Implementation for its inventory tracking solution that was developed with our partner Seeonic.  The solution uses RFID to track automotive batteries from warehouse to truck to dealer, allowing Interstate Batteries to have an accurate and up-to-date view into their inventory.  

Congratulations to everyone involved in this project for receiving such an honor.  To learn more, please visit our Solutions page.




ThingMagic Nano: Small, Cost Effective, Reliable

Posted by Shannon Downey on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 @ 09:17 AM

Tags: Internet of Things, Embedded RFID, uhf rfid, IoT, RFID modules

Our Mercury6e series of embedded UHF RFID modules has grown yet again with the addition of the family’s smallest, lowest cost module to date – the ThingMagic Nano. As we find ourselves in the middle of an Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, RFID applications are popping up in this expanding ecosystem in all shapes and sizes, with developers begging for options that give them flexibility.

These options come in the form of a suite of embeddable modules that put developers in a position to plug low cost, low power components into their RFID solutions when the application calls for it, and still use larger high-power modules when part of an application still requires greater bandwidth and read rates. Because our universal API – MercuryAPI – spans the entire suite of module offerings, customers are free to expand their solutions with this new, smallest form factor and integrate the technology immediately into existing systems. Different readers with different jobs can coexist to suit specific customer needs without the headache of re-writing software.

Keonn, a Spanish solution provider that can implement RFID for everything from securing and re-stocking a hospital’s medical products to making marathon time-keeping more accurate, cites the Nano as an excellent source of flexibility for their solutions. The universal compatibility of ThingMagic’s software development kit, Mercury API, was a piece that CEO Ramir De Porrata-Doria cited as a major selling point, since “because we have designed other products with ThingMagic’s modules, the transition to build in this new, smaller module was seamless and enables us to expand our portfolio to include smaller readers.”

We’ve watched the industry scramble to accommodate solutions that are requiring more and more of the hardware and software involved. What we’re putting in the hands of developers and customers are the tools to adapt quickly in the face of RFID innovation.

Personalized Kiosk Using a ThingMagic USB Plus+

Posted by Shannon Downey on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 @ 12:03 PM

Tags: USB RFID reader, RFID Kiosk

One of our partners, TransTech, is working with customers to help build personalized kiosk solutions with our ThingMagic USB Plus+ readers.

Turns out, we had a customer develop this type of solution in the past and we wrote a case study about it.

Take a minute and read TransTech's blog post for their take on how to build a solution like this.

More Autonomous Operation for RFID Modules and Less Re-Inventing the Wheel

Posted by Mike Klein on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 @ 01:28 PM

Tags: uhf rfid

Our Micro family of embedded RFID modules now stands to lessen the headache for developers putting together the next greatest finished RFID readers. With the newest enhancements ThingMagic has issued to the firmware for our Mercury 6e Micro and Micro-LTE UHF RFID modules, modules are primed for autonomous operation.

To what extent are we allowing UHF RFID modules to operate autonomously?  By enabling hardware read triggers and creating savable configuration settings in the module, we’ve eliminated the need to write reader configuration and control code using the MercuryAPI, simplifying the integration of RFID into tomorrow’s solutions.  The module is configured one time to stream data using a new Autonomous Configuration Tool, freeing users up from writing code and lowering the supporting hardware requirements, allowing the modules to be used in a wider range of products with less development effort.

But what will true autonomous operation look like in RFID development? For that, we need your help.

These enhancements are already available for customers developing finished readers and solutions with the Micro and Micro-LTE. We’d like to open a conversation with those of you writing applications to control these modules so you can help shape the next iteration of enhancements to the firmware. What’s working well? What’s still keeping you from concentrating on innovating rather than writing code? Even those of you not currently developing with ThingMagic – we want to know what your biggest pain points are in developing with RFID, writing development code and anything else you’d like to see in a progressive update to the RFID development process.

If you’re interested in hearing more and participating with our newest enhancements, please contact us at


The Next Wave of the Internet of Things (According to Bernd Schoner)

Posted by Shannon Downey on Wed, Jan 07, 2015 @ 04:35 PM

Tags: Internet of Things



In case you missed it, ThingMagic founder Bernd Schoner was featured in the new publication IoT Journal, a sister pub of RFID Journal.  In the inaugural "Expert Views" column Bernd gives his take on the "next wave" of the IoT and how it all starts with RFID.

Check it out here.

RAIN RFID and the Internet of Things

Posted by Tom Grant on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 @ 01:42 PM

Tags: Internet of Things, uhf rfid

I was reading an article last week in National Geographic on the origins of the Internet of Things and the credit given to Kevin Ashton, a former ThingMagic colleague, for coining the phrase back in 1999.  The vision remains and the likelihood has increased significantly over these past 15+ years.

I have had the opportunity to participate in the design, development and deployment of UHF RFID since 2001.  Enormous work was done by the likes of Walmart, P&G and brethren retailers and CPG companies to form a consortium with the objective of establishing standards and funding/encouraging companies to develop the necessary elements to allow the deployment of a next generation of ID technology.  We were guided by the enthusiastic duo of Kevin Ashton and Sanjay Sarma who worked tirelessly to negotiate standards and provide a vision of what was possible.  By 2005 we were all convinced it was just a matter of time before RFID would provide supply chain efficiencies to the retail sector and provide to other vertical markets the evidence that their supply chain could be enhanced. 

Mark Roberti has chronicled the successes, challenges and technology and product improvements through his magazine RFID Journal and its corresponding newsletters and events.  As an industry we have worked tirelessly to lower costs, adhere to and improve standards and ease the development and deployment of UHF RFID.  Enormous strides have been made and the industry’s members deserve a lot of credit for hanging in there during this 10+ year period during which several factors have converged, including:

  • Improvement in the performance, cost and deployment of the fundamental technology

  • Cloud-based Architectures and back-office systems have improved our ability to turn the data collected into mission critical information

  • The Internet of Things concept and promotion has provided RFID with a market awareness concept within which  to showcase its capabilities.

It is time for the RFID industry to promote our collective efforts towards building market awareness of the power of our technology when combined with the big data architectures that are being put in place.   Fortunately, Impinj, Smartrac, Google and Intel recognized that need earlier this year and formed the RAIN RFID Alliance whose sole purpose is to increase market awareness of the power of our collective technology. 

ThingMagic joined the RAIN Alliance this year and, with the endorsement of our fellow members, I have joined the RAIN Board of Directors.  As we have worked tirelessly for 15 years to get RFID to its cost-effective state, I encourage you to become an active member of the RAIN Alliance.  Check it out, join and get involved.  



Mercury xPRESS, a Developer’s Sensor Hub for the Internet of Things

Posted by Shannon Downey on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 @ 08:41 AM

Tags: Sensors, Internet of Things, Embedded RFID

The potential of a broader set of ID and sensing solutions is something IT decision makers and business stakeholders have been able to understand the potential value of for some time now, but have struggled to put into practice. As a result, though most solutions can offer measurable value, many fall short when it comes to going above and beyond what they’re tasked with and supporting greater ideals like the Internet of Things (IoT).  What’s keeping us from reaching that point?  In part, it’s a lack of tools that are easier to use, richer in functionality and can more easily and quickly integrate with the world around them.

Organizations have high hopes for IoT, but significant gaps still exist that are keeping us from opening up communication between people, devices and other objects of all types. In particular, we need to bridge the communication gap that’s always existed between the consumer world and the ID and sensing solutions of the enterprise world. Much of this disconnect stems from having devices and networks that all speak different languages, making development a more confusing and time-consuming process than it needs to be. When the goal is seamless communication between an infinite number of devices and technologies, the only way to achieve it is through platforms outfitted with tools that automatically act as a translator.

The developers tasked with building ID and sensing solutions now have a tool that will enable them to overcome that challenge and help make significant steps toward IoT. Enhancements to ThingMagic’s Mercury xPRESS Sensor Hub flexible development platform, which already allows developers to bring up a fully functional RFID reader in minutes, have now transformed it into the Sensor Hub that developers need. With new support for network interfaces (PoE and WiFi) as well as GPS, developers can easily access and deliver diverse sensor data. This enables developers to focus on application functionality, fast deployment and quicker return on investment.

Today we’re on the cusp of realizing the next wave of the Internet of Things, where communication is seamless between people, devices and objects, regardless of whether a computing device is involved. One of the biggest barriers keeping us from achieving this next step in IoT are the  parties fighting to make their language and protocols the standard, which is actually slowing the process of realizing IoT’s purpose.  We see the Mercury xPRESS Sensor Hub as a part of the solution, a step towards opening the lines of communications between devices and systems of all types that haven’t been interacting. The road to IoT is filled with many obstacles.  A major one has been integrating all the applications that use different languages and protocols.  It’s doubtful we’ll ever achieve the nirvana of a single standard that unites everything.  So until that day comes we’ll continue to need tools like the Mercury xPRESS Sensor Hub, which can act as the unifying connector and translator of the many devices and applications we’ll encounter on the path to IoT.

ThingMagic and Digi-Key: Helping the IoT Realize Its Full Potential Using RFID

Posted by Shannon Downey on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 @ 02:38 PM

Tags: RFID, Sensors, Healthcare, Internet of Things, IT Asset Tracking, Embedded RFID, RFID Data, Inventory Management, Construction, Digi-Key

Conceptually, the Internet of Things (IoT), at its most basic, is composed of billions of items all connected and communicating information through wired and wireless technology.  One of its first and fundamental building blocks is sensing technologies like RFID. To date, however, RFID has been largely relegated to specific enterprise markets and applications. Though RFID-based applications can vary greatly, there is still similar functionality and value to a retailer looking to better track inventory and manage its supply chain; a hospital looking to better organize its equipment, medications and patients; or a construction company looking to better monitor job sites and work assignments to better guarantee the safety of its workers in the event of an emergency.  And this is just a small sampling of the industries and verticals that can benefit from RFID applications.  These applications, across all industries, are capable of delivering tremendous measureable value - but there is so much more that RFID can do within IoT.

Thus, a challenge we face is working to understand the limitations organizations and developers perceive when considering building RFID applications. One of the things that has kept RFID from achieving wider-spread adoption has been the availability of tools that make it easy for engineers and developers to quickly build and integrate RFID-based applications. Nobody understands this issue better than us. But having just signed a global distribution agreement with Digi-Key – one of the world’s largest and fastest growing electronic components distributors – we’re hoping to offer a solution by giving engineers better access to RFID tools and a better foundation for innovating with RFID.

Here at ThingMagic, we are now collaborating with Digi-Key to distribute our Mercury 6e Series and Mercury 5e Series embedded modules, putting us in a position to reach more engineers with the building blocks for tomorrow’s innovations.  Digi-Key’s distribution of ThingMagic development kits along with our modules will enable more companies to develop and produce the connected items that are behind the next wave of IoT solutions. Our award-winning family of modules has the performance capabilities to sustain the speed and connectivity of today’s complex systems, with the compact form factor required for the billions of devices that will one day make up the Internet of Things.

As the proliferation of devices of all types and sizes continues, the development and adoption of the Internet of Things should grow as well.  But we’re still far from that tipping point where we truly connect all devices across the enterprise and consumer worlds seamlessly through the IoT.  In spite of the progress that’s been made, the IoT ecosystem does not yet work together as it should.  For it to reach its potential, we’ll need cooperation from all the participants in the market.  By providing developers and engineers with development tools, platforms and technologies – like RFID – that all support industry standards, then we will have a collaboration that will enable the true vision of IoT.   Our partnering with Digi-Key is another step on the path to achieving that objective.

Collaboration with Datamars for a More Intelligent Laundry Operation

Posted by Austin Rand on Mon, Jul 07, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: RFID, Apparel, Process Control, Laundry Management, Laundry

Datamars is a pioneer of RFID in the textile industry with more than 1000 textile customers in 40 countries and more than 150 million RFID tags in use worldwide. To read this enormous number of tags, they’ve turned to ThingMagic UHF readers (Astra and Mercury6) for bulk-scanning.  With a reader accuracy over 99% the ThingMagic readers have helped the company achieve record growth in the past year. 

This year, Datamars has seen 100% of its new industrial laundry projects involve UHF technology, a clear indication that RFID has moved from being a luxury in the textile space to becoming a standard for advanced operations. Because of the low cost of entry associated with UHF RFID, the pairing of Datamars tags with ThingMagic readers has become a primary choice both for customers just adopting RFID for the first time, as well as for existing RFID users looking for a combination of LF-UHF or HF-UHF to ease the transition to this next generation of solutions.

In a service industry, the success of an industrial laundry operation hinges not only on maximizing the productivity of a supply chain, but ensuring reliable operations for the customer. With read ranges of up to 6 meters (19 feet) without requiring a direct line of sight, the coupling of Datamars tags with ThingMagic readers ensures bulk-scanning accuracy and scanning speed (1000 items in under 10 seconds) that help set an advanced operation apart from its competition.

The numbers from a deployment for Disney can better tell the story of what’s possible with ThingMagic RFID in a large-scale garment tracking solution:

  • Disney used UHF RFID to track $100 million worth of costumes.
  • The solution has saved the company more than a million dollars.
  • Inventory counting times have been reduced from approximately 180 labor hours (within larger costume storage areas) to about two hours.
  • The system increased the accuracy of inventory checks, from 85-90% accurate to nearly 100%.
  • The need to staff checkout counters has been eliminated, freeing up personnel for other tasks.

Core to ThingMagic’s readers – Astra and Mercury 6 – is predictability and ease-of-use. Deploying an UHF RFID solution, in many more industries beyond textile and industrial laundry, should not require a  disruptive installation of RFID hardware and software. As such, ThingMagic readers are developed to integrate easily with existing operations so enterprises can shorten the time to realize business results – the ultimate promise of an RFID solution. Beyond ensuring the reliability that helps an operation survive, more connectivity sets an enterprise up not only to have more visibility into operations, but also to more easily transition to next-generation technology. 

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