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IBM Eases Switchover To RFID

Printer for RFID labels appears to be just the beginning of the company's involvement in hardware for the technology.
IBM is preparing to enter the hardware market for radio-frequency identification technology with the September introduction of the Infoprint 6700 R40, a thermal printer designed for companies migrating from bar-code labels to RFID labels for shipping.

The Infoprint 6700 R40 includes IBM WebSphere software, which supports the transmission of shipping information from business applications to the labels. As a label embedded with an RFID chip passes through the printer, an IBM Power processor encodes onto the chip information such as manufacture date, destination, inventory data, and product-handling details. The Infoprint 6700 R40 also prints a bar code on the paper label as a secondary source of supply-chain information.

The printer appears to be just the beginning of IBM's involvement in RFID-enabled hardware, as the company has plans for more, says Doug Oathout, VP for the IBM printing systems division. The Infoprint 6700 R40 with RFID capabilities will sell for $5,525.

Market leadership for RFID-enabled printers is still up for grabs, AMR Research analyst Dennis Gaughan says. "I don't think IBM views this as an opportunity to become a market leader in printers, but instead as a way to provide its customers a single point of contact for both hardware and software."

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