Alien Debuts High-performance Multi-protocol RFID Reader

New ALR-9800 offers EPC Class I Gen 2 compatibility, reader management capabilities to allow for large-scale deployments

New ALR-9800 offers EPC Class I Gen 2 compatibility, reader management capabilities to allow for large-scale deployments

Morgan Hill, CA — August 9, 2005 — Radio frequency identification (RFID) specialist Alien Technology has debuted a new high-performance multi-protocol reader designed to take full advantage of the features included in the new EPC Class I Gen 2 specification and to provide for scalable enterprise deployment.

Alien said its new ALR-9800 Enterprise RFID Reader enables enterprise-wide scaling of RFID by reducing the costs of implementation, simplifying ongoing reader management and integration with enterprise networks and permitting large numbers of readers to operate harmoniously in close proximity.

"The ALR-9800 reader was designed to meet emerging customer requirements for integrating RFID into an array of core business processes, including complex manufacturing, inventory and distribution operations, where there is the potential for significant ROI," said Stav Prodromou, CEO of Alien Technology.

New Platform

The ALR-9800 is the first reader based on the new Alien Enterprise RFID Platform, an architecture for the deployment of RFID capability. As RFID penetrates further into mainstream operations, fast-growing reader populations will have to be cost-effectively installed, configured and managed, and made to collaborate with each other and with enterprise systems. Alien said that the Enterprise RFID Platform provides an architecture to support and accelerate the proliferation of RFID across the enterprise and the globe.

While the ALR-9800 is configured for FCC operation, readers for European and Asian regulatory regimes will follow. Compatible with the Alien Reader Protocol, the Enterprise RFID Platform meets present performance, management and EPC protocol requirements, including reading Class 1, Class I Gen 2 , Class 0 and Class 0+ tags, while providing a structure for meeting future customer, industry and regulatory requirements as they evolve in the future.

The ALR-9800 employs an Intel XScale processor running Linux for system and network management, as well as a digital signal processor (DSP) for high read performance of current and future RFID protocols. The DSP also enables interleaving of different protocols with minimal switching overhead so that read rates can be maintained in mixed protocol environments such as high-speed conveyors and dock doors, according to Alien.

Built for Dense Reader Environments

In addition, Alien said that the ALR-9800's integrated general purpose I/O (GPIO) capability eliminates the need for costly external programmable logic controllers when integrating the reader with sensors, indicators and actuators, which can help reduce initial equipment and installation costs. Also, the ALR-9800's "multistatic" antenna design enables conveyor and dock door read performance using only half the number of antennas required by other readers — only four antennas are required for four read points versus the traditional eight. Installers can use preconfigured operating modes or develop application-specific reader configurations, which can be uploaded and downloaded across readers to create multiple identical read points.

To reduce ongoing management costs, the ALR-9800 integrates remote monitoring and management functionality, including SNMP support. Alien said that the reader's rugged physical design ensures reliable, low-maintenance operation in harsh industrial environments. A power-loss recovery capability automatically brings the reader back to its previous state upon resumption of power without the loss of tag data, which is stored in battery-backed memory.

Because enterprise deployment of RFID will in many cases result in large numbers of readers operating in close proximity, and maintaining reliable system performance in these applications can be challenging as readers contend for limited RF bandwidth, the ALR-9800 provides a toolkit of features and techniques to address dense reader environments, according to Alien.

Full implementation of the Class I Gen 2 Dense Reader Mode (DRM) helps minimize interference between DRM-compliant readers. As not all readers are DRM-compliant and DRM is not yet allowed in certain geographies, the ALR-9800 also offers broadband listen-before-talk capability as required under current European regulations. The ALR-9800's Autonomous Mode enables readers to be activated only when needed, such as when an electronic eye, temperature, vibration sensor or other activator detects a certain event.

The ALR-9800 Enterprise Reader is available to order now for shipments in September. The list price is $2,399.

In related announcements:

  • Alien and IBM announced that the two companies have integrated IBM's WebSphere RFID Device Infrastructure (WRDI) middleware on the ALR-9800 RFID Reader. Alien also announced it is offering customers a specific version of the ALR-9800 incorporating IBM's WRDI middleware, which enables the integration of RFID data with IBM platform-based systems and enterprise business processes.

  • Alien announced an alliance with Oracle establishing Alien as a partner in Oracle's Sensor-Based Services initiatives, including support for integration of the ALR-9800 Enterprise RFID Reader with the Oracle Sensor Edge Server, including Oracle Warehouse Management, Oracle EPC Compliance Enabler and other RFID-enabled solutions. Alien is a certified partner in the Oracle PartnerNetwork.

  • Alien announced that the ALR-9800 Enterprise RFID Reader is compatible with the Microsoft RFID Infrastructure and will be supported by Microsoft Corp.'s RFID technology as part of the two company's recently announced alliance. The Microsoft RFID Infrastructure is designed to enable cost-effective deployment of RFID capabilities and simplified management of RFID data across the enterprise, including the integration of RFID data with enterprise business applications and real-time processes. The RFID Infrastructure based upon the Microsoft .NET Framework will include a device management layer and an event management layer that can be used by third party applications.

Additional Articles of Interest

— Where should companies be focusing their efforts today to remain competitive tomorrow? See "What's Still Missing in B2B?," cover story in the June/July 2003 issue of iSource Business (now Supply & Demand Chain Executive) magazine for views on this issue from Procter & Gamble Chief Information Officer Stephen David.

— Think your distribution operations have been put to the test? A closer look at the U.S. Army's multi-million-square-foot distribution center that was established in Kuwait two years ago to support Operation Iraqi Freedom provides some insight for companies looking improve distribution operations under harsh conditions. Read more in "Lessons from the Operation Iraqi Freedom Theater Distribution Center to Improve Your Supply Chain Operations," an exclusive.

— Hard data and sophisticated planning are key when goods and materials start flowing upstream through the reverse supply chain. Read more in "Meeting the Reverse Logistics Challenge" in the June/July 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.