Impinj Sells 10B Chips, Unlocking Internet of Everyday Things
The real promise of the Internet of Things is connecting not just powered electronic devices, but the countless other everyday items that until recently have remained stubbornly isolated in the physical world.
Impinj, a 15-year-old Seattle company, is doing just that with its radio frequencyThe number of complete cycles or vibrations per unit of time. Rate of alternation in an AC current. Expressed in cycles per second or hertz (Hz). identification (RFID) technology—long in development and now finally achieving large-scale adoption. The company recently sold its 10 billionth RFID chip; an eye-popping milestone that co-founder and CEO Chris Diorio says just scratches the surface of the opportunity in front of Impinj.
“We’veVolumetric Efficiency connected 10 billion items in our everyday world to the Internet and are providing the identity, location, and going forward, the authenticity of those 10 billion items,” Diorio says. “That said, our penetration rate is still relatively low compared to the number of connectible items in the everyday world. There are trillions of connectible items.”
Retailers have consumed some 60 percent of those 10 billion Impinj RFID chips since 2010, Diorio says. Pick up a clothing item in a Macy’s, for example, and the hang-tag will likely have a small antenna and integrated-circuit chip attached. A hand-held or ceiling-mounted RFID reader can pick out and locate that specific item, making possible things like real-time inventory control and omni-channel retail models (think online ordering and same-day, in-store pickup).
It has been a long haul, through hype cycles and continued technology development, to reach this level of adoption. As far back as 2004, Impinj and its competitors were anticipating strong demand for their technology to improve the efficiency of the global supply chain, by putting tags on pallets, cases, and other shipping containers. Walmart made a big commitment to the technology in 2005 that didn’t pan out. The global supply chain was already pretty efficient, Diorio says.