Impinj Unveils New Circuits Aimed at Expanding Firm’s IoT Platform

Even if you’ve never heard of Impinj, it’s likely you’ve come across examples of the Seattle-based company’s bread and butter—radio frequency identification technology—in real life.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are used, for example, by department stores to track inventory; by transportation agencies to power automated tolling systems; by mountain resorts to scan skiers’ lift tickets; and by marathon officials to track participants’ progress on a race course.

Impinj (NASDAQ: PI) has been in business for nearly two decades. The company began laying the groundwork for its current platform, which encompasses RFID chips and complementary hardware and software for tracking them, years before “Internet of Things” became a buzzy phrase in the tech world. (Often abbreviated as IoT, the phrase refers to updating previously offline devices with Internet capabilities.)

This week, Impinj introduced a new series of integrated-circuit chips that it says will offer improved readability and “increase the distance, reliability, and speed” at which an RFID system can locate the physical objects to which chips are attached.

“The IoT platform we created and the ubiquitous item connectivity we envision form the bedrock of an epic opportunity—to expand the Internet’s reach to trillions of everyday items and deliver data and services for those connected items, profoundly enhancing business efficiencies and improving peoples’ lives,” Chris Diorio, co-founder and CEO of Impinj, says in a prepared statement.

In short, Impinj is doubling down on IoT applications. The company says it plans to continue selling its tracking systems to retailers, which put chips on the products they sell to keep track of how much inventory they have on hand and need to order. Four years ago, when Impinj announced it had sold its 10 billionth RFID chip, Diorio estimated that retail customers had accounted for 60 percent of chip sales during the current decade.

Impinj says that in addition to retail, it’s also targeting the grocery, consumer packaged goods, and shipping and logistics industries. Supply chain was an area of focus in the company’s early years; it worked to tag pallets, cases, and other shipping containers with RFID chips to improve order-tracking. However, tagging the individual items inside such containers represents “the real opportunity” for businesses like Impinj, Diorio told Xconomy in 2015.

The RFID tags Impinj manufactures are tiny; the company says its new series of circuits, branded Impinj M700, are small enough that about 30 million of them can fit into a standard coffee cup. The tags, which are outfitted with an antenna for tracking and don’t require a power source, are also fairly inexpensive, costing just pennies apiece.

Impinj went public in July 2016, four years after it withdrew paperwork related to its original planned public stock offering. The company’s stock price mostly increased during the first 12 months post-IPO, peaking at $60.85 a share in June 2017. However, shares in Impinj have since fallen; its stock price was $16.95 a share in mid-day trading Friday. Impinj’s current market capitalization is about $364.3 million.

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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