More of the 411 on RFID

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The buzz around the RFID industry is still moving rapid as many gear up for the EPCglobal Gen 2 standard. Check out the hottest headlines in RFID in the past twelve months as PFFC presents its 2nd annual RFID review.



AUGUST 2005

RFID Journal reports over the next six months, Florida supermarket operator Publix, three produce suppliers, and the Univ. of Florida IFAS’s Center for Food Distribution and Retailing (CFDR) will test the potential for using the EPCglobal Network to improve the distribution of fresh produce.

Publix, which operates 858 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee, will outfit its Lakeland, FL, distribution center with four RFID portals to track the arrival of produce shipments from suppliers in California and Florida. The suppliers will deploy equipment that will enable them to tag and read those tags in order to record shipments as they leave their facilities bound for Publix. CFDR, which was established in 2003 to study ways to make RFID tags work on produce shipments and keep perishable food from spoiling, will manage the research pilot, dubbed Visibility Validated (V2).


RFID Journal also reports process efficiencies are taking the lead over retailer and government mandates in driving RFID technology adoption, according to a new study entitled “Analysis of RFID Adoption and Workforce Issues in North America.” The study was conducted by market research firm Frost & Sullivan and commissioned by CompTIA, a not-for-profit IT trade organization that provides certification testing.

When asked to rate the influence of mandates, standards development and competition, and other factors on their decisions to implement or consider RFID technology, survey respondents gave “improved process efficiency” the highest rating, at 3.8 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very influential. Mandates were divided into separate categories: DOD, FDA and “other,” which received ratings of 2.2, 2.2 and 2.5, respectively.


Singapore’s Inst. of Microelectronics (IME) says it has developed the world’s first passive read-write RFID tag with an on-chip antenna (OCA). The institute claims its new RFID chip and antenna design could appreciably cut the cost of manufacturing RFID inlays for specific applications.

“With the antenna embedded on top of the chip, we can significantly reduce the size of the tag to less than 1 square millimeter,” says Rajinder Singh, head of IME’s Integrated Circuits & Systems Lab, “small enough to be embedded in applications such as laboratory samples, clothes, paper documents, or checks.”


Zebra Technologies adds converting equipment for smart labels to its Greenville, WI, supplies facility. With in-house production, Zebra now provides one of the broadest selections of high quality, cost-competitive smart labels to meet different application needs.



July 2005

Texas Instruments and Moore Wallace, an RR Donnelley Co., announce a multi-year strategic agreement to offer EPC Gen 2 smart label solutions. Under the terms of the agreement, TI will be a primary supplier of ultra-high frequency UHF EPC Gen 2 tag technology to Moore Wallace, which will provide EPC Gen 2 finished labels to the consumer products goods (CPGs), manufacturing, and pharmaceutical companies that are implementing RFID for supply chain applications.


Silicon.com reports a BEA Systems-sponsored survey suggests that only 29% of UK respondents thought RFID gave any benefits. Seven out of 10 respondents said they would need “a lot more information” before they made a decision about implementing it. The report said: “Benefits of RFID are not well understood…. Respondents also say RFID seems promising but they don’t know where to start.” Asset tracking, stock control, and order status tracking were the areas where RFID could create the biggest benefit. Six out of 10 said integration and data management would be the biggest issue for RFID implementations. Only five UK companies interviewed said they were using RFID now. Cranfield School of Management research fellow Dr. Andrew White says RFID is beginning to have an impact on a wide variety of business processes.



June 2005

Texas Instruments joins with the world’s third largest retailer, the METRO Group, in its Future Store Initiative as part of a move to develop and implement new RFID solutions based on the EPCglobal EPC Gen 2 standard for the retail industry. TI will pilot its RFID products in Metro’s Innovation Ctr,, which provides world-class RFID development and demonstration facilities for the retail industry.


Royal Philips Electronics and Texas Instruments enter an agreement to cooperate on conformance testing for the technical interpretation of the EPCglobal EPC Gen 2 RFID standard. This joint effort is aimed at ensuring interoperability and accelerating market deployment of Gen 2 products, such as labels, hardware, and system solutions, to offer multiple sourcing for implementations of RFID throughout the world.


The Univ. of Arkansas formally opened a new RFID research center on June 10. The aim of the facility is to do primary research in three areas: technology deployment, data analytics, and business cases for deploying RFID.



May 2005

Intel and Oracle have joined to work on both RFID and sensor-based technologies. The jointly produced data and supply chain management technologies will attempt to address this by integrating currently available products from Oracle and Intel.



April 2005

SAMSys joins Oracle PartnerNetwork to simplify RFID reader sourcing for Oracle partners and customers.


RFID Times reports the launch of RFID Global Solution, whose team members represent the leading and most respected professionals in the industry and are veterans of some of the largest RFID initiatives to date, including development of the world’s largest RFID network for the Dept. of Defense and the move to RFID at the world’s largest retailers.



March 2005

SATO becomes a member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork, which is a global business network of more than 14,000 companies that deliver innovative enterprise software solutions based on Oracle software.


TI has announced broad industry support for its EPC Gen 2 technology through its collaboration with 12 leading printer and reader manufacturers: Avery Dennison, AWID, Datamax Corp., FEIG, Paxar, Printronix, SATO, Sirit, SAMSys, ThingMagic, WJ Communications, and Zebra Technologies Corp. TI is working with this alliance to ensure interoperability within the EPC Gen 2 RFID infrastructure and to drive accelerated adoption of EPC Generation 2 compliant solutions in the global retail supply chain. All of the companies are committed to providing products based on the EPC Gen 2 standard and are working in close collaboration with TI to bring to market a wide range of interoperable solutions for encoders, readers, printers, and hardware devices that support TI’s EPC Gen 2 products, which are planned for volume production beginning in the third quarter of 2005.



February 2005

Texas Instruments plans to deliver ISO/IEC 14443 compliant RFID chips designed to meet the stringent security requirements for MasterCard Intl.’s PayPass line of RFID payment cards and tokens. TI expects to submit this product for MasterCard certification in the second quarter of 2005, with full production planned to start in the second half of this year.


American Express recently announced that CVS will be the first national merchant partner to accept its ExpressPay RFID payment tokens and RFID-enabled credit cards. CVS currently has ExpressPay-enabled POS terminals in 485 stores in Arizona, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas, and Missouri, and plans a full roll out to its entire fleet of more than 5,300 stores by mid-2005. American Express also announced that it plans to expand ExpressPay’s availability to consumers nationwide in 2005.



January 2005

A low cost spoofing and cloning attack has been demonstrated by researchers from Johns Hopkins Univ. and RSA Laboratories on some Texas Instruments’ RFID tag-based tokens, used for transport road tolling and the purchase of fuel at petrol stations, and as part of a car key vehicle immobilizer system.

The researchers created a cheap code-cracking device, from off the shelf Field Programmable Gate Array hardware, to brute force attack the 40-bit keyspace. They wrote software to simulate the radio protocols of the RFID tokens on a laptop computer connected to radio equipment.


RFID in Japan reports about RFID labels for metal surfaces—a problem area that has and is causing pain for a number of businesses working on implementing RFID in their supply chain. AICA Kogyo Co. and Toppan Forms Co. developed RFID labels that can be directly pasted on metal surfaces (like stickers). They are flexible and can be pasted on curved surfaces. Conventional RFID tags for metal surfaces are thick so as to avoid disturbance of RF signals. AICA Kogyo Co. developed a certain magnetic substance that can be used to create a thin layer between a label’s sticky surface and RFID chip/antenna.



December 2004

EPCglobal announces the ratification of the royalty-free EPCglobal UHF Gen 2 candidate specification, which marks the much-anticipated completion of the UHF Gen 2 air interface protocol as an EPCglobal standard. With the Generation 2 standard now in place, technology providers will create products that will meet the requirements of suppliers, manufacturers, and end-users; and industries as a whole can drive EPC implementation with standards-based equipment.



November 2004

Intermec Technologies Corp. and EPCglobal Inc. announce that Intermec has offered to temporarily suspend its RFID intellectual property RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing program for the EPCglobal Gen 2 RFID standard for 60 days to allow validation of the candidate specification. The action clears the way for technology providers to submit UHF Gen 2 prototype chips, tags, and readers for purposes of testing by EPCglobal without violating Intermec intellectual property rights.

“This spirit of collaboration is exactly what the EPCglobal community and marketplace needs,” said Dick Cantwell, chairman of the EPCglobal board of governors. “The industry is eager for the release of a common specification that will drive this emerging market forward. Today’s announcement confirms that the process is continuing, the issues are being addressed, and progress is being made.”



October 2004

AIM Inc. publishes the “Proposed Guidelines for the Use of RFID-Enabled Labels in Military Logistics: Recommendations for Revision of MIL-STD 129.”

According to Clive Hohberger, PhD, of Zebra Technologies, the document’s lead editor, "Although this document grew out of a request by the US Dept. of Defense (DoD) and reflects their requirements, it contains a tremendous amount of good, practical information on the selection and use of RFID-enabled labels in the supply chain that is equally applicable to commercial logistics."

Developed by AIM Global’s RFID Expert Group (REG), the document is the first of many guideline documents currently under development by the REG.


SATO Corp. improves its industrial traceability system, called “Trace Eye.” The Trace Eye system has been developed to fulfill the needs of manufacturers that need to check the status of products in real-time. Trace Eye is structured to manage the entire production process from the start to warehousing and delivery.



September 2004

EPCglobal forms the EPCglobal Architecture Review Committee (ARC). Adhering to the EPCglobal standards development process, ARC will be responsible for the design and maintenance of the EPCglobal Network architecture. The EPCglobal Network is an enabling technology that combines RFID technology, the Internet, and the EPC to enable accurate, cost-efficient visibility of information in the supply chain.


Impinj Inc. announces that its Zuma RFID chips, which conform to the increasingly popular EPCglobal Class 0 standard, are interoperable with key products from 15 RFID supply chain solutions providers.


The United States Navy, which has field tested ScenPro’s RFID-based Tactical Medical Coordination System (TacMedCS) to track the status and location of wounded soldiers and others arriving for treatment at Fleet Hospital Three in Iraq, plans to expand the capabilities of the system to include satellite phone data transfer capabilities into a Web-based medical command and control tool called MedCOP (Medical Common Operational Picture).

Using this approach, casualty information can be gathered in the field and transferred to a centralized database, where MedCOP can display the information to medical commanders, providers, planners, analysts, and support personnel.

As casualties are evacuated to various treatment facilities, the location information is updated by TacMedCS and displayed in MedCOP to allow for a more efficient and accurate means of casualty tracking.


SAMSys Technologies enters an agreement with UK-based All Right Now (ARN) that will expand distribution of SAMSys’ RFID readers and related solutions to Eastern Europe. ARN is a systems solution provider specializing in bar coding, smart card and RFID systems.



Can't get enough RFID? Check out last year's "The 411 on RFID" year in review here.



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