Zebra’s ‘Smart Fridge’ Solution Foreshadows IoT Ambitions

From powering a Macy’s beacon-based campaign to exploring connected technology, the company has come a long way from its days as a printer supplier.

In a sign that the company has moved far beyond its printer supply origins, Zebra Technologies has introduced a “smart fridge” IoT solution through collaboration with Amtel.

The smart fridge offers a variety of cloud-based features including real-time temperature monitoring, meaning that merchants can ensure that the conditions — and stocking — of the fridges are correct, even when they’re not on site.

“Managing [supply] and recording the temperature of fast-moving, perishable goods is increasingly necessary for a superior, safer customer experience,” said Thomas Kurian, senior director, new growth platforms, at Zebra. “Bringing together Amtel’s low-power, mesh technologies with Zatar, our IoT cloud service, helps retailers eliminate the cost and inaccuracy of manual recordings and meet compliance requirements.”

Zebra Grows Up

It can be said that Zebra has entered the location tech ecosystem quietly.

The company got its start providing printer supplies, ID scanners, and related products. But over the years, Zebra has evolved through the acquisition of several different location solutions, beginning with its expansion into RFID smart label manufacturing a decade ago. Following acquisitions included Swecoin and real-time locating system WhereNet.

Then, in 2014, Zebra made its biggest move: It bought Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business in a $3.45 billion transaction, a bid to advance its mobile marketing and data capabilities.

Now, the company is exploring new ways to communicate with mobile consumers in the beacon space. In fact, Zebra powered Macy’s Black Friday 2015 “walk in and win” beacon-based campaign.

At this stage, Zebra’s efforts to rebrand itself as a player in the location and connected technologies space are clear — and that’s a large part of what led to this most recent development: Innovation in IoT with the smart fridge technology.

“Zebra has a foothold in devices that capture data,” Allison McDonald, global product marketing specialist at Zebra, told GeoMarketing, referring to the company’s printer origins, as well as the acquisition of Motorola. “That’s where the innovation is coming from and will continue to grow from.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.