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HP Unveils "Noisy Lab" for RFID Technology Development

Company steps up tagging of consumer products for shipment to select retailers
NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2005

HP today announced plans to open an RFID Noisy Lab in Omaha, Neb., next month to further the development of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

Announced at the National Retail Federation 94th Annual Convention and Expo, the HP facility will be one of the most comprehensive RFID labs in the industry, simulating a real-world manufacturing and distribution center where HP, its customers and its partners can pilot and evaluate RFID technology and solutions.

"IDC considers HP's RFID Lab initiatives to be well timed for an emerging marketplace," said Richard Dean, program director for Mobile Enterprise and RFID Services research, IDC. "It further underscores HP's commitment to providing the right solutions for supply chain participants within the RFID (and auto-sensing) marketplace."

So named because it simulates a live or "noisy" manufacturing environment and distribution center, the RFID Noisy Lab is part of a broader RFID acceleration initiative underway at HP to meet retailers' RFID compliance mandates. The initiative is designed to increase the number of RFID-tagged products bound for leading retailers from three HP consumer technology products to more than 40, beginning this month.

RFID is a data collection technology that provides suppliers, retailers, manufacturers and distributors with up-to-the-minute supply chain visibility, from inventory and logistics to freshness dates. Such timely supply chain information enables companies to respond in real time in order to improve stock availability, reduce shrinkage and improve customer service. RFID solutions also support HP's Adaptive Enterprise strategy, which helps customers synchronize business and IT to capitalize on change.

"Our new Noisy Lab facility offers an invaluable resource to HP, its customers and partners as they develop innovative RFID solutions and services to help simplify change and reduce costs," said Ian Robertson, director, RFID program, HP. "We are committed to developing and implementing RFID technology in a cost-effective and low-risk manner to meet our customer requirements and make supply chain improvements in industries as diverse as retail, consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, automotive, pharmaceutical and high technology."

HP is already shipping some RFID-tagged consumer products, including two HP Photosmart printer models and one HP Scanjet scanner model, to select retailers. HP has increased the number of RFID-tagged products shipped to retailers at the pallet, case and packaging level to include HP All-in-One printers, HP iPAQ Pocket PCs, HP Compaq Presario desktop PCs, HP notebook computers, HP LaserJet and Deskjet printers, and additional HP Photosmart printer models.

The HP RFID Noisy Lab will be used for testing and verification of customer specifications to meet RFID retail compliance deadlines and to help retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and others better manage supply chains. HP will use the lab's controlled environment to test RFID equipment, solutions and technology from new vendors, and to host customer tours, demonstrations and proof-of-concepts.

The RFID Noisy Lab is expected to provide a more accurate and richer picture of all types of goods in a supply chain, whether they are servers in a data center, pallets of wine on a loading dock or cases of soap in a warehouse. The working showroom will allow HP and its customers to build and refine applications more easily for mandate compliance or broader RFID implementations.

To simulate a manufacturing and distribution center, the HP RFID Noisy Lab will include several key elements, including:

  • Racetrack Conveyor, which is capable of reaching variable speeds up to 600 feet per minute and equipped with cases of consumer products that have a maximum weight of 50 pounds and case volume size of two cubic feet.
  • RFID Printer Write Station that writes electronically to an RFID tag and prints a readable number on the tag. The station has the capability to easily change vendor printer equipment.
  • RFID Write Station that has the capability to write to the tag after the tag is applied to the case.
  • RFID Read Station located near a conveyor belt that reads the RFID tag. The station will be movable so that tests can be conducted at varying distances.
  • RFID Portal that can read pallet and case tags while a forklift moves through the station.
  • Middleware Server with three middleware vendor products that enables a comparison of product features from leading RFID middleware vendors.
  • Pallet Wrap Station on a turntable with RFID Read capability.

Printronix Inc. will contribute a SmartLine™ SL5304e MP RFID printer. The SmartLine RFID multiprotocol printer enables encoding and printing of various RFID label sizes and antenna designs that have emerged as popular standards through early adopter pilot programs. Printronix also plans to use the lab to test RFID printing and software configurations in a real-world environment.

"Printronix expects this new facility to play a pivotal role in enabling our joint customers to take RFID from abstract concept to practical reality," said Robert A. Kleist, president and chief executive officer, Printronix Inc. "Our SmartLine multiprotocol printer gives suppliers asset-protection on their RFID investment because it supports today's EPC standards while offering an easy migration path to future RFID requirements."

HP is collaborating with several other companies to demonstrate RFID solutions, including: ADT Sensormatic, Alien Technology, Applied Wireless Identifications Inc. (AWID), OATSystems and Shipcom Wireless.

About HP

HP is a technology solutions provider to consumers, businesses and institutions globally. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, global services, business and home computing, and imaging and printing. For the four fiscal quarters ended Oct. 31, 2004, HP revenue totaled $79.9 billion. More information about HP (NYSE, Nasdaq: HPQ) is available at http://www.hp.com.


This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, as well as assumptions that, if they ever materialize or prove incorrect, could cause the results of HP and its consolidated subsidiaries to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and assumptions. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements, including the expected development, performance or rankings of products or services; statements of expectation or belief; and any statement of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. Risks, uncertainties and assumptions include the development, performance and market acceptance of products and services and other risks that are described from time to time in HP's Securities and Exchange Commission reports, including but not limited to HP's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended July 31, 2004 and other reports filed after HP's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2003. HP assumes no obligation and does not intend to update these forward-looking statements.

About HP

HP Inc. creates technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere. Through our portfolio of printers, PCs, mobile devices, solutions, and services, we engineer experiences that amaze. More information about HP Inc. is available at http://www.hp.com.