Announcing Cloud Connect for RFID

Zebra is proud to bring our developer community our newest set of Data Services products.  Cloud Connect for RFID is a comprehensive set of services that developers and partners can use to streamline and reduce the upfront cost of RFID integration.

Cloud Connect has been around for many years for Zebra printers.  We have now extended that capability to fixed RFID readers.  This allows solution integrators and customers to eliminate the need for on-premise servers in many use cases.  FX readers now can be set up to connect to local, hybrid, or cloud servers and can be managed through simple rest APIs.  By default, they will work directly with Zebra’s cloud hosted Data Services platform.

Problem

This solution handles several pain points of fixed RFID use.  The first is the cost of on-premise servers.  If a use case only needs one or two readers per location, the cost of needing a server in each of those locations is prohibitive.    One of the reasons for needing the server is to collate and analyze the RFID data, the other is to provide connection to a centralized server.  

The other cost is in local infrastructure. Most readers will send every tag it sees to the server hundreds of times a second.  This is hard on any network and often requires custom applications on the reader, or separate networks just for them.  Cloud Connect reduces the need for all of these by providing on-reader filters and modes, cloud-based analysis of reads, as well as direct connection to servers anywhere.  

Solution

Cloud Connect for RFID has several different services available and several more are planned within the coming months. 

Cloud Management and Monitoring of RFID

Programmable management of readers has mainly been focused on logging into readers and directly accessing files with SSH.  This service provides a different method of managing readers centrally using RESTful web APIs.  These APIs are documented here.  They allow developers to check the status of readers, set configuration files and network settings, update firmware over the air from Zebra’s network, and set the read modes (see below).  This is all done with secure protocols and locked with Zebra’s multi-tenant solution to ensure customers and partners have appropriate the access permissions.

Cloud Data Transfer

The most important aspect of RFID Readers is that they read RFID tags.  Cloud Data transfer allows developers to set up standard webhook subscriptions to capture notifications of tag read events.  These events are configured by setting the read modes either on the reader or using the management APIs.

With the newest version of FX reader firmware (3.7.xx), developers can set up several read modes that significantly reduce the traffic to the servers.  Effectively doing common analysis within the reader.  It also has easy filtering, so you only capture tags you care about.  As RFID becomes more ubiquitous, this is more and more important.  See the RFID Developer Guide for details of the different modes and filters. 

Using the Zebra Data Services , the tag read data is also decoded for you into standard EPC and GS1 data fields.  This makes it easier to find the information you need, fast.

GS1 Decode

As a separate API, we are also providing access to our RFID GS1 decoding service if you have raw tag data from any source that you want decoded.   You can use this service as part of Cloud Data Transfer or as a separate service documented  here.

Getting Started

You can enroll readers here at any time using the newest FX firmware, but you must contact your Zebra account or partner manager to inquire about pricing and access to the services.

For a demo and advanced walk-through of this solution, come join our DevTalk on Sept 16th

Comment below to let us know what functionality you want see in future Cloud Connect for RFID releases.