Intel sells RFID business to Seattle company

Impinj, a Seattle company, acquired Intel's RFID business.

Seattle company Impinj has acquired Intel's RFID business under undisclosed terms, the companies said on Thursday.

Impinj expects that the deal will allow it to address a broader market, namely that of handheld, mobile RFID (radio frequency identification) readers. That's because the company will be able to sell chips that include most of the functionality required for a reader radio, allowing developers to build small form-factor devices.

Intel's RFID business, part of its New Business Initiatives Incubator, developed the R1000 RFID reader chip. The chip has been used in a variety of form factors and different markets such as supply chain management, asset tracking and authentication.

The deal was an all stock transaction and Intel gets an observer seat on Impinj's board. Impinj expects to take on fewer than 10 Intel employees as part of the acquisition.

Impinj recently announced that Metro Group, a European grocery store chain, has begun using its RFID products in the butcher section of one of its stores. Metro adds an RFID tag to each meat package on the shelf. RFID readers continually monitor the tags for the "best before" date and send alerts to store workers to remove items before they reach the date. Check out systems also have readers that alert clerks when customers are trying to buy out-of-date products.

The demand for integrated RFID chips like the one Intel developed is growing as the RFID market matures, said Michael Liard, an analyst at ABI Research, in a research note on Thursday. This year, large organizations including Airbus, Sam's Club and the U.S. Department of Defense have all announced new RFID projects, according to ABI. The RFID market is expected to generate US$9.7 billion by 2013, ABI said.

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