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Which company do you think Wal-Mart is likely to use for its RFID system?

Which company do you think Wal-Mart is likely to use for its RFID system? I have read promo material that it is likely to be a Japanese co? Do you have any idea which way they're leaning?

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Wal-Mart is using technology that originates from ThingMagic, a Boston-based company. I believe ThingMagic has licensed the technology to a Japanese firm that markets directly to the Wal-Mart's of the world. That said, ThingMagic has also produced custom readers for Wal-Mart's trials. ThingMagic's expertise in this area is in the industrial/warehousing side with fixed place tag readers that are meant for use in the environments used to support Wal-Mart's distribution supply chain. I don't believe that ThingMagic's technology will be the exclusive provider of RFID technology because the product vendors supplying to Wal-Mart will be tagging their products. So, what you'll find in the long run is a variety of fixed-place scanners in place that can handle the union of tag types that might be applied to product shipments. Also consider the fact that some consumer brand companies have their own RFID tag technology that they either developed themselves or licensed from firms like HP. They need to do this because they want to manufacture the tags directly into the packaging (I.E. razor blades) rather than printing a tag and affixing it to a pallet of razor blades.

This was first published in February 2005

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