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Last modified: October 28, 2008
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Resources and Readings


[Provisional document. Collection of references to online resources for RFID and AutoID technologies. For the XML conection, see: "Physical Markup Language (PML) for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)"]

Articles, Papers, News

  • [October 28, 2008] "EPC RFID Tags in Security Applications: Passport Cards, Enhanced Drivers Licenses, and Beyond." By K. Koscher, A. Juels, T. Kohno, and V. Brajkovic. RSA Technical Report. 2008. "EPC (Electronic Product Code) tags are industry-standard RFID devices poised to supplant optical barcodes in many applications. They are prevalent in case and pallet tracking, and also percolating into individual consumer items and border-crossing documents. In this paper, we explore the systemic risks and challenges created by increasingly common use of EPC for security applications. As a central case study, we examine the recently issued United States Passport Card and Washington State 'enhanced' drivers license (WA EDL), both of which incorporate Gen-2 EPC tags... The Passport Card is a low-cost alternative to the traditional passport (a 'passport book') that is valid only for land and sea travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda — not for air travel. It is designed to meet the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, a regulation that phased out the validity of drivers' licenses for such border crossings. A Passport Card has the same physical format as a credit card. It includes a wireless microchip called an RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) tag. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversees the border-protection agency (Customs and Border Control) that makes use of the Passport Card, and has largely guided its design and implementation, while the U.S. State Department is responsible for issuing the card... The RFID devices in these identity documents are known as EPC (Electronic Product Code) tags. They are essentially wireless barcodes. That such tags have limited security features and are subject to clandestine scanning and emulation in a clone device is already widely known in the technical community... Our research confirms the vulnerability of Passport Cards and EDLs to copying attacks of their electronic RFID components. We have shown, in fact, that an anti-counterfeiting measure that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security appears to have contemplated is not present in its initial designs is not present in the Passport Card. Without this countermeasure, it is a technically straightforward matter to copy the data from a Passport Card's RFID tag into another, off-the-shelf tag. An attacker does not have to resort to building an emulating device in order to create a radio-similar clone. (While we think it unlikely, it is possible that DHS has deployed other anti-cloning countermeasures in the field.) Our research additionally shows that the RFID tags in Passport Cards are subject to scanning at a long range — exceeding 150 feet under certain circumstances. The protective sleeve provided with the Passport Card effectively prevents such scanning..."

  • [May 03, 2006] "An Introduction to RFID." By Steve Winkler. SAP Blog. May 03, 2006. "Like the Internet, which got its start as a DARPA research project, RFID technology is thought to have been engendered in the pursuit of improving warfare technologies. In World War II the British invented IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) in which radar signals could be used to determine which team a given fighter plane was playing for, thus avoiding friendly fire and allowing a faster reaction to the approach of deadly enemy aircraft. Identification of airplanes was one specific use of the technology, but lately the identification mechanism is being used to identify a wide variety of items, including things like consumer goods or construction machinery. RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) is a technology that allows things to be identified via radio waves. An RFID reader sends an interrogating question (e.g., 'who are you?') to an RFID tag. The tag can then respond with an answer to the reader (e.g., I am product XYZ from company ABC). In this manner, similar to other sensing technologies, e.g., bar codes, RFID allows objects to be identified. The fact that this sensing technology is based on radio waves, however, allows it some very unique features and properties. For example, radio waves can be transmitted directly through objects, which means that RFID readers don't require a line of sight to read the RFID tag like a bar code would. More importantly, the radio waves carry with them a minute electrical current that can be used to power the tags, effectively turning them into very small, special purpose, computers (technically speaking, it's an integrated circuit). It's this power that the RFID tag uses to send the response to the RFID reader, which means that for these so-called passive tags, not only are batteries not included, they're not required! Though batteries may not be required, they can be very advantageous. Active tags are tags that have their own power sources and are capable of broadcasting information on their own. The additional power allows for more features, like longer read range, additional memory and larger storage spaces... Much of [the early] research was performed by the Auto-Id labs (funded in part by SAP) on the M.I.T. campus in the late 1990's. On November 1st, 2003 this research evolved into a non-profit standards body called EPCglobal, a subsidiary of GS1, whose stated mission is to 'make organizations more efficient by enabling true visibility of information about items in the supply chain.' The primary means by which they intend to achieve their goal is through the standardization and promotion of RFID technology..." See also SAP's RFID forum on SDN.

  • [December 16, 2004] "EPCglobal Ratifies Royalty-Free UHF Generation 2 Standard. Announcement Marks Culmination of Collaborative Process. Opens Door for Proliferation of Standards-Based Hardware to Drive EPC Implementations Worldwide." - "EPCglobal Inc, a subsidiary of GS1 a not-for-profit standards organization entrusted with driving global adoption of Electronic Product Code (EPC) technology, today announced the ratification of the royalty-free EPCglobal UHF Generation 2 candidate specification. Today's announcement marks the much anticipated completion of the UHF Generation 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. Today's announcement follows successful testing of prototypes from several technology providers, which illustrated that the ratified standard can meet the EPCglobal community end user requirements, as well as final determination that all intellectual property presented on a licensed basis during the standards development process was not necessary to the standard. Commercially available products are expected the first half of 2005. 'Today marks both an exciting culmination and a much anticipated beginning in the commercialization of RFID and EPC technology,' said Chris Adcock, president, EPCglobal Inc. 'Many of the world's leading technology companies collaborated to develop the UHF Generation 2 specification, and we celebrate and applaud their efforts as we launch the royalty-free UHF Generation 2 standard. With this standard in place, technology manufacturers and end users alike can begin exploring how to deploy the technology in such a way to make a significant impact in improving their own business.' The EPCglobal UHF Generation 2 protocol, a consensus standard built by more than 60 of the world's leading technology companies, describes the core capabilities required to meet the performance needs set by the end user community. The UHF Generation 2 standard will be used as a base platform upon which standards-based products and future improvements will be built. An EPCglobal standard ensures interoperability and sets minimum operational expectations for various components in the EPCglobal Network, including hardware components. While EPCglobal oversees interoperability and conformance testing of standards-based products, the actual development of these products comes from leading solution providers around the globe..." See also: (1) "Physical Markup Language (PML) for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)"; (2) "Patents and Open Standards."

  • [November 17, 2004] "The Magic of RFID." By Roy Want (Intel Research). In ACM Queue Volume 2, Number 7 (October 2004), pages 40-48. Special Issue on RFID. "RFID is an electronic tagging technology (see figure 1) that allows an object, place, or person to be automatically identified at a distance without a direct line-of-sight, using an electromagnetic challenge/response exchange. Typical applications include labeling products for rapid checkout at a point-of-sale terminal, inventory tracking, animal tagging, timing marathon runners, secure automobile keys, and access control for secure facilities... An RFID system is composed of readers and tags. Readers generate signals that are dual purpose: they provide power for a tag, and they create an interrogation signal. A tag captures the energy it receives from a reader to supply its own power and then executes commands sent by the reader. The simplest command results in the tag sending back a signal containing a unique digital ID (e.g., the EPC-96 standard uses 96 bits) that can be looked up in a database available to the reader to determine its identity, perhaps expressed as a name, manufacturer, SKU (stock keeping unit) number, and cost. An RFID tag is built from three components: Antenna; Silicon chip; Substrate or encapsulation material. These tags are generally referred to as passive because they require no batteries or maintenance. Passive tags that operate at frequencies up to 100 MHz are usually powered by magnetic induction, the same principle that drives the operation of household transformers. An alternating current in the reader coil induces a current in the tag's antenna coil, allowing charge to be stored in a capacitor, which then can be used to power the tag electronics. Information in the tag is sent back to the reader by loading the tag's coil in a changing pattern over time, which affects the current being drawn by the reader coil — a process called load modulation. To recover the identity of the tag, the reader simply decodes the change in current as a varying potential developed across a series resistance... the memory available in current tags (typically 2 kilobits) will probably be too small for an efficient representation in XML; a more compact notation would need to be standardized. While Moore's law continues to increase the memory capacity potential of RFID tags possible at reasonable cost, XML may well be used for this purpose in the future... In practice most of the lower-frequency RFID systems can read tags at a maximum distance of about a meter, and the UHF systems extend that to three to four meters..."

  • [November 17, 2004] "Integrating RFID." By Sanja Sarma (OATSystems and MIT). In ACM Queue Volume 2, Number 7 (October 2004), pages 50-57. Special Issue on RFID. "[Part of the RFID] strategy was to put much of the data and intelligence associated with tagged items, which had hitherto resided on the RFID tags themselves, on the network instead. We achieved this by proposing a new, unique numbering scheme called the EPC (Electronic Product Code). The EPC would act as a pointer to data on the network in much the same way as a license plate on a car can be used to refer to the traffic tickets associated with that car. We then developed an infrastructure for associating these EPC tags with databases across the network using a variant of the DNS (Domain Name System), which we called the ONS (Object Name System). The ONS can be used to find the authoritative owner of the original data associated with an EPC tag. Other infrastructure components include the EPCIS (EPC Information Service), which is being standardized using a Web Services architecture. It can be used to extract information about an EPC from either a trading partner or another EPC-related application or repository within the enterprise.... The ability to read without line-of-sight is a principal advantage of RFID systems over bar-code systems. The fact that every bar-coded item needs to be handled to enable a successful read makes bar codes fundamentally manual... packages in [some] industries tend to be of standard shapes and sizes, with the bar codes at predictable locations, so scanning can even be automated. The standard supply chain, however, offers neither the homogeneity to permit automation, nor the incidental opportunity to perform manual scanning of bar codes. RFID readers, on the other hand, can sense items even when their tags are hidden, or sometimes, within the bounds of physics, when the tagged item is hidden behind other tagged items. This enables automation. Unfortunately, the very 'locational tolerance' that makes RFID tags easier to read also makes it difficult to understand whether a tag is in fact in the reader's prescribed zone, or whether the read tag is simply passing by..."

  • [September 18, 2004] "The Land Beyond Transactions." By Stewart McKie. From (September 18, 2004). "Led by RFID and enterprise metadata, new streams of information are in place to move businesses past the traditional world of analyzing only transaction data. Location analytics and metadata mining are key fields to watch... Location analytics is about creating business value gained from data derived from location awareness, the movement of people and items between locations, and location context. Location analytics is being driven by the proliferation of synergistic hardware, including global positioning satellites (GPS), mobile/cell phone networks, and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Broadly speaking, people-centric location analytics will depend on mobile phone and GPS networks, while item-centric location analytics will depend on RFID tags. Locating people is already relatively accurate. With services such as FollowUs a user of a standard mobile phone can be located within 100 meters in an inner city area in the United Kingdom. The latest cell/mobile phones enabled with Assisted GPS (A-GPS) can bring that down to less than 40 meters... But it's not just people that can be tracked. When a vehicle is fitted with a GPS-enabled device such as the AsItMoves locator, the location of the vehicle can be pinpointed to within tens of meters. And there will soon be literally billions of items (and people) that can be located once they're fitted with a RFID tag and come within range of an RFID scanner. But location analytics based on RFID faces a number of challenges. The volume of data collected could be enormous. With the potential for thousands of scanning devices operating in a large organization scanning at rates much faster than humans can create and post 'transactions,' we could move toward RFID databases that might reach multiple terabytes (maybe even a petabyte) dwarfing the largest data warehouses of today. Also, standards are required to oil the flow of data, like the use of globally accepted Electronic Product Codes (EPCs) and data interchange metadata such as the XML-based Physical Markup Language (PML). And there are important privacy and security implications when RFID is embedded in humans that go way beyond concerns about who knows when and where you bought a candy bar..."

  • [June 27, 2004] "Consensus Reached on EPC Gen 2." By Mark Roberti. In RFID Journal (June 24, 2004). "The Freedom and Global proposals for EPCglobal's UHF Gen 2 specification have been merged into a single submission, paving the way for a new EPC standard. The path to a consensus began in Chicago last week. Members of EPCglobal's Hardware Action Group, which is overseeing the process of creating a Gen 2 standard, held a two-day meeting, arranged by Zebra Technologies, at the Hotel Sofitel. At that meeting were representatives from companies supporting one or the other of the proposed specifications that were being considered for adoption. Backing the Global proposal were representatives from Intermec, Philips Semiconductors, Texas Instruments and 10 other companies; promoting the Freedom proposal were representatives from Alien Technology, Atmel and Matrics. Zebra was officially part of the Global proposal but also supported the Freedom proposal, which is why it played a role insetting up the meeting... After several long, intense meetings, leading RFID vendors supporting two rival proposals for a second-generation UHF Electronic Product Code standard have agreed to a consensus proposal. The agreement paves the way for EPCglobal, the nonprofit organization commercializing EPC technology, to create a global standard for tracking goods in the supply chain with UHF RFID tags carrying EPCs. One of the key sticking points between the two groups was their differing approaches to intellectual property (IP). The companies backing the Global proposal were insisting that companies contributing their IP to the specification should be compensated on a reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis. The backers of the Freedom proposal were saying they would contribute their IP to their specification royalty-free and they wanted others supporting their specification to do the same, which was unacceptable to Intermec and other members of the Global team. With both sides agreeing to remove the IP issue from the standards-establishing process, the teams began hashing through the technical differences between the two proposals...EPCglobal will issue a last-call working draft of the standard, and EPCglobal subscribers will have a chance to comment on the draft. Prototype tags and readers will be evaluated, and then in October, EPCglobal's board will formally ratify the draft and it will become a standard..."

  • [April 19, 2004] "RFID Reshapes Supply Chain Management." By Michael Caton. In eWEEK (April 19, 2004). "RFID will be a major advance in supply chain management, but enterprises will need to do considerable upfront planning and testing to successfully implement and integrate the technology... RFID will initially be used to manage the identification of large lots of goods — for example, at the pallet and carton levels. RFID tags, therefore, must have unique serial identifier information that associates each lot with a corresponding bill of lading sent from the originator. Because RFID readers can scan tags many times during a 1-second period, the serial identifier will prevent the application making the data request from getting multiple counts of the same items... RFID tags are classified as passive or active. Passive tags work by taking the energy received from the reader through a tag's antenna and using that energy to transmit stored data back to the reader. Passive tags will likely be more widely used, at least at first, because of their low cost. Active tags include their own power supply, usually a battery, to transmit information directly to a reader. The battery can also be used to help power or interact with other devices. For example, a company shipping perishable goods may want to use active tags that integrate with thermometers to ensure the goods are kept at an acceptable temperature... PML (Physical Markup Language) is the XML schema that more broadly defines the exchange of data within the RFID-enabled supply chain. The PML schema gives applications a broad set of rules by which applications exchange data. The schema abstracts information that may already be defined in other standards, such as UPC. PML provides a way for applications to gather not only information from readers but also information about the readers themselves, such as reader health. PML determines the vocabulary for the exchange of data between applications, such as a supplier's shipping system and a customer's receiving system. On a broader level, middleware in the RFID supply chain application could perform tasks other than those defined by Savant and PML..."

  • [February 19, 2004] "Sun Microsystems and SupplyScape Offer Comprehensive RFID Package to Help Combat Drug Counterfeiting and Diversion. Integrated RFID Offering Safeguards Pharmaceutical Supply Chain." - "Sun Microsystems, Inc. and SupplyScape Corporation announced today a Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeit RFID Package, an offering enabling companies in the pharmaceutical supply chain to combat counterfeiting and diversion while gaining efficiencies throughout the supply chain. The offering addresses recommendations announced yesterday by the FDA Counterfeit Drug Task Force, as outlined in its 'Combating Counterfeit Drugs' report... According to the FDA report, 'RFID technology will make the copying of medications either extremely difficult or unprofitable.' Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, coupled with the Electronic Product Code (EPC) and electronic pedigrees are key elements in a multi-layered approach to combat the growing problem of counterfeit drugs affecting patient safety in the United States. The SupplyScape on Sun offering supports the FDA and State government initiatives targeting counterfeit drugs by providing EPC-enabled RFID solutions for the pharmaceutical industry. 'Visionaries articulate a future in which RFID is ubiquitous and nearly everything is traceable,' said Michael Swenson, research manager of Life Science Insights, an IDC subsidiary. 'However, in this post Internet bubble era, broad visions of eventual pay-offs hold little appeal. It is vitally important that early RFID solutions deliver quick relief for pressing industry problems. Solutions must stand on their own merit and not rely on some future day in which RFID becomes pervasive. This Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeit solution appears to fit that profile.' The Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeit RFID package is based on Sun Java Enterprise System Software, an open and integrated software system, and Sun's RFID infrastructure software that features self-healing and provisioning and works with leading EPC-enabled readers, including Alien, AWID, Feig, Matrics, Tagsys and Tyco. Sun's EPC-compliant RFID software, combined with SupplyScape's electronic pedigree application, runs on low-cost Sun x86-based platform servers with the Solaris Operating System or Linux. Because all components adhere to the EPCglobal standards, pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and pharmacies can quickly and cost-effectively add the solution to their current supply chain infrastructure and processes, helping streamline operations and secure the prescription drug delivery chain from counterfeits. 'The EPC-based Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeit package presented by SupplyScape and Sun highlights a novel and comprehensive way of addressing the issues of counterfeit drugs and product diversion,' said Robin Koh, Director, MIT Auto-ID Labs. 'They have worked with MIT's Auto-ID Labs, EPCglobal, Federal and State regulatory officials and the pharmaceutical industry to develop a complete solution that takes into account both regulatory and business requirements'..."

  • [January 27, 2004] "Oracle to Add RFID Support to Warehouse Application." By John Pallatto. In eWEEK (January 05, 2004). "Oracle Corp. said it plans to release a new version of Oracle Warehouse Management in the summer season that will support radio frequency identification (RFID) and electronic product code (EPC) features. Oracle officials discussed the new Warehouse Management features at this week's Oracle AppsWorld conference here. The new Oracle Warehouse Management package will be based Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Application Server 10g to enable customers to automate the process of counting and tracking goods moving in and out of warehouses... The application server will include built-in RFID middleware to provide the connection-control and filtering features required to process RFID data. The warehouse management module will be able to produce and process RFID labels that are required for commodity tracking. The new version of Oracle Warehouse Management will provide compatibility with RFID tags along with the reading and printing devices produced by Alien Technology Corp., Internet Technologies Corp. and Zebra Technologies. The demand for RFID technology has been gaining momentum because major retailers, just as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the U.S. Department of Defense are requiring their highest volume suppliers to support RFID technology if they want to do business with them, said Jon Chorley, senior director of Oracle Inventory and Warehouse Management System. Read more here about RFID technology and both Wal-mart and DoD's requirements for it. The new version of Oracle Warehouse Management will support the RFID tagging of entire pallets of goods as well as individual cases. In addition, warehouse operators can track in-bound and outbound shipments, Chorley said. The automated tagging and reading process cuts the time it takes to track inventory, reduces costs and improves the accuracy of inventory reports, he said. The technology will also improve warehouse security because with RFID readers installed at the warehouse doors, the RFID application can watch for any outbound or even inbound shipments are authorized..."

  • [January 13, 2004] "VeriSign Selected to Operate Root Directory for EPCglobal Network. Highly Scalable, Secure and Global Network Directory Service Will Enhance the Application of EPC Technologies in the Supply Chain." - "VeriSign, Inc., the leading provider of critical infrastructure services for the Internet and telecommunications networks, announced today it has been selected by EPCglobal, a not-for-profit standards organization, to operate the Object Naming Service or ONS as the root directory for the EPCglobal Network. The EPCglobal Network is a system that leverages the existing Internet infrastructure to create a low-cost, standards-based set of services for trading partners to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and the electronic product code (EPC) to capture and share information on items throughout the supply chain. When the EPC is linked to the directory it becomes a tool that enables new ways of doing business. The EPC is a unique number that can be assigned to individual items in cases and pallets within the supply chain for identification and tracking. Similar to today's bar code, these 'license plates' for products are embedded in EPC tags, which can transmit EPC information to special readers placed in dock doors and other locations. This makes it easier to track products as they move through the supply chain. Through the use of the EPCglobal Network, businesses can become more efficient and productive in logistics, inventory management and product placement. To support this new model for supply chain management thousands of enterprises need to be able to securely access, in real-time, potentially billions of unique EPCs from a highly available global ONS directory..."

  • [January 12, 2003] "METRO Group to Introduce RFID Across the Company. First Use of RFID Technology Along The Entire Process Chain. Comprehensive Pilot Project to Kick Off With 100 Suppliers, 10 Central Warehouses and Approximately 250 Stores." - "METRO Group, the world's fifth-largest retailing company, will begin using RFID technology (Radio Frequency Identification) throughout its entire process chain. Beginning in November 2004, approximately 100 suppliers initially will affix RFID tags to their pallets and transport packages for delivery to ten central warehouses and around 250 stores within the METRO Group's sales divisions Metro Cash & Carry, Real hypermarkets, Extra supermarkets and Galeria Kaufhof department stores. Tests with the new RFID tags have been successfully conducted over recent months at the METRO Group's Extra Future Store in Rheinberg, Germany, the first project of the METRO Group Future Store Initiative. In Rheinberg, the Initiative tests the use and interaction of a number of new retailing technologies under real-life conditions, with the objective to develop benefit-driven solutions -- both for customers and retailers. To achieve this, RFID technology is of particular importance, as it enables non-contact transmission of product information such as price, manufacturer, expiration date and a product's weight via radio frequency... Thus far, the Initiative is only testing RFID in certain areas of the process chain, primarily in warehouse management. RFID technology enables the automatic inspection of incoming goods: Delivery of goods to the Future Store in Rheinberg are fitted with RFID tags in the central warehouse and read in upon arrival at the store. During transport from the store's warehouse to the salesroom, goods are read in again, and identified as 'moved to the frontstore.' The tests in Rheinberg have shown that RFID offers retailers and their customers enormous advantages: more effective processes and consequently lower costs, which benefits both parties. Using RFID, goods will be able to be located along the entire process chain -- from production all the way through to the shelf in the store. Managing orders can be optimized, losses reduced and out-of-stock situations avoided, assuring an even more consistent availability of goods for the customer. Utilization of RFID for the first time along the entire process chain is the most sweeping project thus far for the METRO Group Future Store Initiative. It is a multi-stage plan beginning November 2004 that provides for approximately 100 of Metro's suppliers to already outfit all pallets and transport packages with RFID tags in their production facilities for goods bound for ten of the METRO Group's central warehouses. The goods' path from manufacturer to METRO Group's warehouses will thus be recorded using RFID technology. 100 stores from the Real and Extra sales divisions, 122 Galeria Kaufhof department stores, and 59 Metro Cash & Carry wholesale stores in Germany will be receiving RFID-tagged deliveries from these warehouses. To assure a smooth implementation of the project, METRO Group sets up a lab for the suppliers involved. In this lab, the functionality of the RFID technology, e.g. the reading of tags, is being tested..." See "Physical Markup Language (PML) for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)."

  • [November 5, 2003] "Sun to Open a Wal-Mart Compliant RFID Test Center. New Director of Auto-ID Business Unit Claims New Facility Will Speed Supplier Compliance to Wal-Mart Standards." - "Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced that it will open an RFID test center where Wal-Mart suppliers can test their RFID solutions to guarantee compliance with the Wal-Mart standard. 'The impact of Wal-Mart's Radio Frequency ID (RFID) mandate to its suppliers is enormous and will change the way manufacturers and suppliers track inventory,' said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of Sun software. 'RFID is a game changer for retailers, manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies to name just a few of the impacted industries. Sun is committed to providing open, standards-based RFID middleware software that leverages our Sun Java Enterprise System." The Wal-Mart imposed January 1, 2005 deadline is the first step in the worlds largest retailer's move to implement RFID in its inventory management system store-wide. Wal-Mart will use the Electronic Product Code (EPC) compliant RFID technology for identifying, tracking and tracing deliveries and inventory. Wal-Mart's hundreds of suppliers must take action now to ensure they will remain on the shelves of the retail giant. Because the Wal-Mart Test Center and the RFID Test Centers are built using the same technology, its suppliers can test their RFID solution first with Sun to ensure compliance with Wal-Mart's RFID specifications. 'Sun's target design point has been aimed at reliable, scalable, manageable, secure systems and is a natural fit for supporting RFID based systems,' said Julie Sarbacker, Sun's director of the Auto-ID Business Unit. 'We've been working with customers to determine the most cost effective way to help with compliance to Wal-Mart requirements and needed to provide hands-on access to the technology and systems needed. With this new center, we aim to reduce the time and expense suppliers will have to undergo to support Wal-Mart's requirements.' The Sun RFID test center will be located in Dallas, Texas, and will be open to Wal-Mart's suppliers by December 2003. The Sun RFID Test Center will be powered by the Solaris Operating System using Sun Java Enterprise Software and the Sun standards-based implementation of Savant with additional value around self-healing and provisioning of EPC readers. Customers will also be able to test RFID technology in conjunction with Sun's Java Enterprise Software to smoothly integrate this technology into their existing technology strategy. Sun Services will team with the suppliers to provide the IT consulting expertise, using best practices to ensure that their solution is architected and implemented to maximize return on investment and minimize total cost of ownership in the most timely and efficient way. For more information on Sun's early involvement with RFID and the RFID Test Center, visit Suppliers who want to start testing in the Sun RFID Test Center should contact Sun at"

  • [October 23, 2003] "DoD Announces Radio Frequency Identification Policy." - "The Department of Defense announced today the establishment of a Radio Frequency Identification Policy (RFID). RFID technology greatly improves the management of inventory by providing hands-off processing. The equipment quickly accounts for and identifies massive inventories, enhancing the processing of materiel transactions to allow DoD to realign resources and streamline business processes. Implementation of RFID minimizes time spent through the normal means of inventory processing. This technology allows the improvement of data quality, items management, asset visibility, and maintenance of materiel. Further, RFID will enable DoD to improve business functions and facilitate all aspects of the DoD supply chain. The new policy will require suppliers to put passive RFID tags on the lowest possible piece part/case/pallet packaging by January 2005. Acknowledging the impact on DoD suppliers, the department plans to host an RFID Summit for Industry in February 2004. The RFID policy and implementation strategy will be finalized by June 2004. RFID policy and the corresponding RFID tagging/labeling of DoD materiel are applicable to all items except bulk commodities such as sand, gravel or liquids..."

  • [October 13, 2003] "U.K. Retailer Tests Radio ID Tags." By Andy McCue. In CNET (October 13, 2003). "Retailer Marks & Spencer has begun a trial of radio frequency identification tags in clothes at one of its U.K. stores this week as part of plans to improve stock accuracy and product availability for customers. The tags, criticized by privacy advocates and touted by the technology industry as a bar code replacement, are contained within throwaway paper labels called Intelligent Labels attached to, but not embedded in, a selection of men's suits, shirts and ties at the High Wycombe store in the United Kingdom. The trial will last four weeks, the company said... The tags will only hold the number unique to each garment, the company said. The information associated with this number is held on Marks & Spencer's secure database and relates only to that product or garment's details -- for example, the size, style and color. The tags also have no power to emit a signal and only release their unique identification number in the presence of a Marks & Spencer scanner, according to the company. The Intelligent Label is attached to the garment alongside the pricing label and is designed to be cut off and thrown away after purchase. For items such as shirts, which are pre-packed, the tag is stuck onto the transparent shirt bag... The retail group will use two scanners for the tags. A portal installed at the distribution center and the loading bay of the store will allow rails of hanging garments and trolleys containing packaged garments to be pushed through and read quickly. A mobile scanner in a shopping trolley with a handheld reader will scan several garments at the same time out on the shop floor, the company said. 'With the ability to read product details on the RFID tags at different points in the supply chain, the information can be used to ensure that the right goods are delivered to the right store at the right time,' the spokeswoman said. 'Customers will therefore benefit from better availability of the goods they want each time they shop'..."

  • [October 2003] RFID Privacy Workshop at MIT. November 15, 2003. Bartos Theater, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA, USA.

  • [September 25, 2003] "Sun Expands Push For Auto-ID." By Matt Villano. In (September 19, 2003). "Already a major player in the Auto-ID market, Sun Microsystems this week announced an initiative for delivering the hardware, software and services that enable enterprises to link into the Elecronic Product Code (EPN) Network. The announcement coincided with news that the Santa Clara, Calif.-based services firm is creating a new Auto-ID business unit to work to develop and deliver a standards-based Auto-ID/EPC solution down the road. Sun's announcement came just weeks after retail giant Wal-Mart aired a mandate for its suppliers to become EPC compliant by Jan. 1, 2005. According to Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president for Sun Software, the Sun initiative will help Wal-Mart suppliers and other enterprises integrate real-time supply chain data seamlessly into their existing business processes and enterprise assets, enabling companies to not only meet these new requirements but exceed them... As Schwartz explained it, the technology behind Sun's Auto-ID effort will be similar to the technology behind Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, the microscopic chips that some companies and retailers have considered for security and tracking purposes of clothes and electronics. This kind of EPC technology helps make the supply chain more efficient, safe, and secure by tracking goods every step along the way, reducing threats of counterfeiting, tampering, and terrorism, while increasing compliance with industry and shipping regulations. More specifically, Sun said its software will deliver a dynamic federated service architecture that emphasizes reliability, availability and scalability (RAS) for Auto-ID pilots and deployments. The proposed solutions also will include lifecycle services to maximize the value of Auto-ID deployments, helping customers proactively architect, implement, and manage IT operations in heterogeneous environments. According to Julie Sarbacker, who will head the new Auto-ID business at Sun, most of the company's EPC offerings will be delivered through the Solaris OE and Linux-based hardware platforms, setting the stage for transparent integration into the EPC Network..." The datasheet says that Sun's EPC initiative highlights an architecture "designed around Auto-ID standards such as EPC, Savant System Interface, Object Name Service (ONS), and Physical Markup Language (PML) supply chains with applications that address counterfeiting, tampering, terrorism, and regulatory compliance..."

  • [September 16, 2003] "Enabling Smart Objects: Breakthrough RFID-Enabled Supply Chain Execution Infrastructure." Sun Microsystems White Paper: Sun and Auto-ID. September 9, 2003. 32 pages. "Using technology breakthroughs in radio frequency identification (RFID) design, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Auto-ID Center, along with the Uniform Code Council (UCC), is leading a group of more than 90 companies and research centers to define widely supported global standards in reading, finding, and formatting product information. These standards are being designed for use as a next generation of the bar code. The Auto-ID standards will create a cost-effective way to make the supply chain more efficient. The compelling aspect of an Auto-ID enabled operation is the association of information with product movement. The combination of tags, antennas, readers, and local computers ('Savants') provides a near real-time view of product status and location. Many companies have begun trials to determine how this new infrastructure can be best used to make significant improvements in enterprise cost structures or revenue capabilities... The key components of the Auto-ID standard are: Electronic Product Code (EPC), Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, Tag readers, Savant servers, Object Name Service (ONS), and the Physical Markup Language (PML)... The EPC identifies individual products, but useful information about the product is written in a new, standard computer language called Physical Markup Language (PML). PML is based on the widely accepted, extensible markup language (XML), and is expected to become a universal standard for describing physical objects, processes, and environments. Thus PML can store any information that could be useful; for example, product composition, lot number, and date of manufacture. This information can be used to create new services and strategies. For example, a consumer could find out how to recycle a product's packaging, a retailer could set a trigger to lower prices on milk as expiration dates approach, or a manufacturer could recall a specific lot of product. PML is designed to be a dynamic data structure, with information that can be updated over time. For example, the PML record for a product can be updated to store the location of a product as it moves through a supply chain... Once EPC data are detected by the readers, they are passed to The Savant. The Savant acts as event manager, filtering out extraneous EPC reads or events. The ONS Server provides the IP address of a PML Server that stores information pertinent to the EPC. Data from the Savant is passed into the application infrastructure, or operations bus, either locally or over a WAN such as the Internet. From here, the data is made available to virtually any application that can make use of it..." [cache]

  • [September 16, 2003] "Sun Microsystems Announces Vision and Initiative for Enterprise Auto-ID/EPC Deployments. Newly Formed Sun Business Leads Auto-ID/EPC Product and Market Development Efforts." - "Sun Microsystems today announced its enterprise Auto-ID initiative. Sun, an Auto-ID leader and visionary with over three years of involvement as a leading member of and advisor to the Auto-ID Center, along with partners including Alien Technology, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, ConnecTerra, Gorilla Logic, Manhattan Associates, Provia, ThingMagic, Tyco Sensormatic, VeriSign and Xterprise, announces the vision and initiative for delivering the hardware, software and services that enable enterprises to link into the EPC (Electronic Product Code) Network. The EPC Network helps make the supply chain efficient, safe and secure by tracking goods along the way, reducing threats of counterfeiting, tampering and terrorism while increasing regulatory compliance. Further accelerating its presence in the Auto-ID market, Sun today also named Julie Sarbacker as director of a new Auto-ID Business Unit at Sun Microsystems. This new business unit will work aggressively with customers and partners to develop and deliver a standards-based Auto-ID/EPC Solution. Encompassing hardware, software, services and best-of-breed partnerships, Sun's enterprise Auto-ID initiative and proposed solution go far beyond that of any other company today. The initiative will help enterprises integrate real-time supply chain data seamlessly into their existing business processes and enterprise assets. 'Sun welcomes all Wal-Mart suppliers, and all other companies seeking to leverage EPC deployments to comply with next generation Auto-ID standards,' said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president for Sun Software. 'Our commitment is indisputable -- with an Auto-ID Business Unit, Julie Sarbacker's executive leadership -- and now with a commitment to leverage our Java Enterprise System in pursuit of Auto-ID opportunities, Sun has clearly set itself apart from those simply writing press releases. Auto-ID is here, and so is Sun with technology and programs.' Enterprise-class reliability, availability and scalability (RAS) is delivered through Solaris OE and Linux-based hardware platforms from Sun, setting the stage for transparent integration into the EPC Network. Sun's software for managing EPC events and the Sun ONE Integration Server are the key software components for this comprehensive offering. Based on the standards set forth today by the Auto-ID Center, Sun software tightly manages EPC events. Specifically designed for the enterprise, the software will deliver a dynamic federated service architecture emphasizing RAS along with manageability and integratability for Auto-ID pilots and deployments. The proposed solution will also include lifecycle services to maximize the value of Auto-ID deployments, helping customers proactively architect, implement and manage IT operations in heterogeneous environments..."

  • [September 16, 2003] "RFID: Driving Benefits Throughout the Supply Chain." By Norm Korey (IBM Global Services). In Wireless Business and Technology Volume 3, Issue 9 (September 2003). "RFID is an emerging, advanced wireless technology for item tagging that enables end-to-end asset awareness. At its core, RFID uses tags, or transponders that, unlike bar code labels, have the ability to store information that can be transmitted wirelessly in an automated fashion to specialized RFID readers, or interrogators. This stored information may be written and rewritten to an embedded chip in the RFID tag. When affixed to various objects, tags can be read when they detect a radio frequency signal from a reader over a range of distances and do not require line-of-sight orientation. The reader then sends the tag information over the enterprise network to back-end systems for processing. RFID tags can be introduced to goods during the manufacturing process, to an individual item, or at a pack, box, or pallet level. RFID systems are also distinguished by their frequency ranges. Low-frequency (30KHz to 500KHz) systems have short reading ranges and lower system costs. They are most commonly used in security access, asset tracking, and animal identification applications. High-frequency (850MHz-950MHz and 2.4GHz-2.5GHz) systems, offering long read ranges (greater than 90 feet) and high reading speeds, are used for such applications as railroad car tracking and automated toll collection...The uses of RFID tags are endless: animal identification, security access, anti-theft retail systems, asset and inventory tracking, automatic toll collection, wildlife and livestock tracking, house-arrest monitoring systems, manufacturing work-in-process data, shipping, container and air cargo tracking, fleet maintenance, etc... RFID tags will replace traditional barcode technology due to several intrinsic disadvantages of barcodes, including: (1) Loss/damage: Barcodes are prone to loss or damage because they are stuck to the outside of packages and so can easily be damaged; (2) Human interaction: Barcodes require human intervention to operate the barcode scanner ; (3) Limited information: Barcodes cannot be programmed or reprogrammed and can provide only the most basic product number information; (4) Stock storage space constraints: Barcodes require line-of-sight to be read... During the past decade, supply chain management has seen a complete overhaul of traditional logistics procedures as tight integration between warehouses, distribution, and retail has smoothed out duplication and improved time-to-market. Supply chain efficiencies are being driven by improvements in information accuracy and availability. However, further improvements have been constrained by the technology used to track goods through the supply chain. The use of RFID wireless technology changes that, providing organizations with an opportunity to significantly enhance supply chain processes as well as deliver improvements in customer service..."

  • [September 16, 2003] "Chicago Show Heralds New 'Internet of Things'. Electronic Product Code Network Launched at Conference." By Paul Roberts. In InfoWorld (September 15, 2003). "A Chicago symposium highlights technology that may fuel the next 50 years of economic growth: a global network of intelligent objects. The EPC (Electronic Product Code) Executive Symposium will run from Monday September 15, 2003 through Wednesday, September 17, and marks the official launch of the Electronic Product Code (EPC) Network, an open technology infrastructure developed by researchers worldwide. The network uses RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags to enable machines to sense man-made objects anywhere in the world. The Symposium will introduce EPC technology to an audience of corporate executives, explaining how the EPC network works and how to implement EPC technology in corporate supply chain networks, according to the Auto-ID Center. The gathering has the backing of major technology companies including IBM Corp., SAP AG and Sun Microsystems Inc... VeriSign will unveil three new services that will allow organizations to manage EPC data using the Internet: ONS Registry, EPC Service Registry and EPC Information Services. Together, the new services will create a registry, similar to the Internet DNS (Domain Name System), that link an EPC with an IP (Internet Protocol) address. Using the services, companies will be able to use the Internet to track their products in the time between when they leave the manufacturing plant and arrive at the loading dock of a retail outlet, Brendsel said. Unlike the much-publicized 'smart shelf' trials, in which RFID technology is used inside retail outlets to provide real-time merchandise stocking information, companies will be focusing on trials outside the four walls of the retail outlet, he said. Also at the show, Intel Corp. will announce a partnership with ThingMagic LLC of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to deliver a new generation of RFID tag readers. The new generation of readers will be built on ThingMagic's Mercury4 Platform and use Intel's IXP420 XScale network processors, improving the power of the readers so that they can process multiple RFID protocols simultaneously, the companies said. When it comes to practical applications for EPC technology, the focus at the Auto-ID EPC Symposium will be on the supply chain..."

  • [September 15, 2003] "IBM Announces Comprehensive New RFID Service. Helping Retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods Companies Boost Accuracy in Picking, Packing, Shipping. Cutting Theft in the Supply Chain." - "IBM today announced a comprehensive new service to help retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies harness radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for advanced product tracking and inventory control. IBM made the announcement at the Electronic Product Code Symposium here, where the company conducted live demonstrations of pallets and computer read-outs that show how goods move through -- and are automatically tracked by -- the RFID system, and how payments and inventory are expedited. IBM's offering, which comprises consulting and implementation services as well as specialized software, gives companies a phased approach to RFID. The IBM offering is based on open standards and leverages existing technology investments by linking with the retailer's existing back-end inventory system. It is based on Websphere Business Integrator running on WebSphere Application Server, DB2 Information Integrator, Tivoli Access Manager, and WebSphere Portal Server. Phases: (1) Phase I includes consulting and development of the business case for RFID; (2) Phase II is a 12-week pilot; (3) Phase III, IBM provides the full roll-out of the system... It is estimated that the retail industry, alone, could reduce inventory levels by 25 percent, saving billions of dollars annually by tagging products and using computers to automatically trace them from the warehouse through shipping and to store shelves. In June, executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, called for their top 100 suppliers to implement an RFID system at the case and pallet level by 2005. More recently this was extended to all their suppliers by 2006. 'IBM believes RFID's time has come,' said Faye Holland, worldwide RFID leader, IBM Global Services. 'As our retail and CPG customers see the dramatic benefits this technology brings in cost reduction, improved customer service and streamlined operations, the demand is escalating for RFID expertise, and IBM -- with its Business Partners -- is perfectly aligned to deliver the most comprehensive RFID solution in the marketplace'..."

  • [September 09, 2003] "WhereNet Adds BI to RFID Asset Management. Rules-Based Engine Uses Wireless Tags to Help Companies Keep Track of Resources." By Ephraim Schwartz. In InfoWorld (September 08, 2003). "WhereNet, a Santa Clara, Calif., company that helps companies wirelessly track the location of everything from shopping carts to shipping containers, will announce this week that it is adding a business intelligence, rules-based engine to its location-based software. The first iteration of the application, WhereSoft Yard Version 4.0, is targeted at deconsolidators -- companies that take imported cargo typically brought in by container ships, break it down, and send out the contents across the country to domestic warehouses and regional distribution centers. WhereSoft Yard is transitioning location-based data from tracking to resource management by using a rules engine along with the real-time location system... The Yard management application goes beyond knowing what containers have come into the yard to determining who the carrier is, what terminal the container came from, and how to keep like equipment from the same shipper next to each other. 'When a drayman brings in the next load, we want him to drop a load and pick up an empty [container]. If they are next to each other, he is in and out quickly,' The software will allow NYK to increase dock door usage, reduce yard congestion, and increase the number of daily turns in the yard. While WhereNet has long been working with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology for improved resource management, Version 4.0 is the first of is kind, according to one analyst. 'It is new. It could be a big deal. Companies have location data in their database, the items associated with a container -- now WhereNet is providing an event management application on top of that,' said Bret Kinsella, global lead for Sapient Supply Chain group in Cambridge, Mass. RFID tagging technology is finding a wide array of uses. In April 2002, WhereNet was instrumental in a pilot program for a supermarket chain that put RFID tags on all of its shopping carts and handbaskets in a test store. The purpose was to track customer movement in order to understand traffic patterns and design stores more efficiently. The WhereNet solution is part of a bigger supply chain story whose goal it is to have all supply chain participants make decisions off the same set of data..." See: (1) the press release, "Robust Rules Engine Integrated with Location System Automates Processes and Increases Throughput at High-Volume Yard Near Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach."; (2) "Physical Markup Language (PML) for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)."

  • [September 01, 2003] "Who Will Profit From Auto-ID?" By Jonathan Byrnes. In Harvard Business School Working Knowledge (September 01, 2003). From the Column 'The Bottom Line'. "Is Auto-ID hype or is it for real? For several years, many top managers have asked this question about radio-frequency ID tags, called Auto-ID, under development by a global consortium of universities, companies, and organizations. In the system envisioned by some consortium leaders, literally everything would be tagged with chips that 'announce' identity when hit with a non-line-of-sight electromagnetic field. This system would have a common identification convention and set of standards. In theory, a store, warehouse, or factory with Auto-ID could be hit with an electromagnetic pulse, and the contents would be instantly known. To some, this view seemed sufficiently far-fetched that they wrote off the whole concept, and to others it raised serious privacy concerns. The debate over hype versus reality shifted markedly a few months ago when Wal-Mart announced it will require its top 100 suppliers to ship their products with Auto-ID tags on all cases and pallets by 2005. Now the question on the table is: Who will win, and who will lose? And, how can top managers determine their best course of action?..."

  • [August 29, 2003] "MIT to Uncork Futuristic Bar Code." By Alorie Gilbert. In CNET (August 29, 2003). "A group of academics and business executives is planning to introduce next month a next-generation bar code system, which could someday replace with a microchip the series of black vertical lines found on most merchandise. The so-called EPC Network, which has been under development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for nearly five years, will make its debut in Chicago on Sept. 15, at the EPC Symposium. At that event, MIT researchers, executives from some of the largest global companies, and U.S. government officials intend to discuss their plans for the EPC Network and invite others to join the conversation. The attendee list for the conference reads like a who's who of the Fortune 500: Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline, Heinz, J.C. Penney, Kraft Foods, Nestle, PepsiCo and Sara Lee, among others. An official from the Pentagon is scheduled to speak, along with executives from Gillette, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and United Parcel Service... EPC stands for electronic product code, which is the new product numbering scheme that's at the heart of the system. There are several key differences between an EPC and a bar code. First, the EPC is designed to provide a unique serial number for every item in the system. By contrast, bar codes only identify groups of products. So, all cans of Diet Coke have the same bar code more or less. Under EPC, every can of Coke would have a one-of-a-kind identifier. Retailers and consumer-goods companies think a one-of-a-kind product code could help them to reduce theft and counterfeit goods and to juggle inventory more effectively. 'Put tags on every can of Coke and every car axle, and suddenly the world changes,' boasts the Web site of the Auto-ID Center, the research group at MIT leading the charge on the project. 'No more inventory counts. No more lost or misdirected shipments. No more guessing how much material is in the supply chain -- or how much product is on the store shelves.' Another feature of the EPC is its 96-bit format, which some say is large enough to generate a unique code for every grain of rice on the planet... Working on the standards problem is AutoID, a new arm of the Uniform Code Council, the nonprofit that administers the bar code, or Universal Product Code. AutoID, announced in May, plans to pick up where MIT's Auto-ID Center leaves off, assigning codes, ironing out technical standards, managing intellectual property rights, publishing specifications, and providing user support and training..." See: (1) following bibliographic entry on PML servers; (2) Inaugural EPC Executive Symposium, September 15 - 17, 2003; (3) "Physical Markup Language (PML) for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)."

  • [August 29, 2003] "PML Server Developments." By Mark Harrison, Humberto Moran, James Brusey, and Duncan McFarlane. White Paper. Auto-ID Centre, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, UK. June 1, 2003. 20 pages. "This paper extends our previous white paper on our PML Server prototype work. We begin with a brief review of the Auto-ID infrastructure, then consider the different types of essential data which could be stored about a tagged physical object or which relate to it. In our data model we distinguish between data properties at product-class level and at instance-level. Product-class properties such as mass, dimensions, handling instructions apply to all instances of the product class and therefore need only be stored once per product class, using a product-level EPC class as the lookup key. Instance-level properties such as expiry date and tracking history are potentially unique for each instance or item and are logically accessed using the full serialised EPC as the lookup key. We then discuss how a PML Service may use data binding tools to interface with existing business information systems to access other properties about an object besides the history of RFID read events which were generated by the Auto-ID infrastructure. The penultimate section analyses complex queries such as product recalls and how these should be handled by the client as a sequence of simpler sub-queries directed at various PML services across the supply chain. Finally, we introduce the idea of a registry to coordinate the fragmented PML Services on a supply chain in order to perform tracking and tracing more efficiently and facilitate a complex query, which requires iterative access to multiple PML Services in order to complete it... The key to the Auto-ID architecture is the Electronic Product Code (EPC) which extends the granularity of identity data far beyond that which is currently achieved by most bar code systems in use today. The EPC contains not only the numeric IDs of the manufacturer and product type (also known as stock-keeping unit or SKU) but also a serial number for each item or instance of a particular product type. Whereas two apparently identical instances or items of the same product type may today have the same bar code, they will in future have subtly different EPCs, which allows each one to have a unique identity and to be tracked independently. In order to minimise the costs of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, the Auto-ID Centre advocates that only a minimal amount of data (the EPC) should be stored on the tag itself, while the remaining data about a tagged object should be held on a networked database, with the EPC being used as a database key to look up the data about a particular tagged object. Within the Auto-ID infrastructure, the Savant, Object Name Service (ONS) and PML Service are all networked databases of some form. Edge Savants interface directly with RFID readers and other sensors and generate Auto-ID event data, typically consisting of triples of three values (Reader EPC, Tag EPC, Timestamp) and an indication of whether the tag has been 'added' or 'removed' from the field of the tag readers. The Object Name Service (ONS) is an extension of the internet Domain Name Service (DNS) and provides a lookup service to translate an EPC number into an internet address where the data can be accessed. Data about the tagged object is communicated using the Physical Markup Language (PML) and the PML Service provides additional information about the tagged object from network databases. The Physical Markup Language (PML) does not specify how the data should be stored, only how it should be communicated. It should be possible for many different types of existing information systems to act as data sources to the PML Service, and for the data to be queried and communicated using the PML language and by reference to the PML schema rather than by reference to the particular structure/schema of the various underlying databases in which the values are actually stored..." See "Physical Markup Language (PML) for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)."

  • [August 04, 2003] "In Their Orbit. What Drives Business-Technology Innovation? Look to Large Companies' Supply Chains, Not Just Tech Vendors." By Rick Whiting. In InformationWeek (August 04, 2003). "When Wal-Mart Stores Inc. told 100 key suppliers this year that they need to be able to track pallets of merchandise using radio-frequency ID technology by January 2005, it did more than send research and development teams scrambling. It offered the latest example of how supply chains increasingly will become the innovation chains that shape business technology. Wal-Mart didn't discover RFID, and there are companies farther down the path to exploiting it. But the ongoing interconnection of supply chains and the role that technology plays in enabling them, means the largest 'and smartest' companies at the center of those hubs have greater power than ever to shape the pace and focus of technology development... RFID is only the latest example of this kind of market influence. McKesson is working with its major retail customers to adopt a standard for EDI called Electronic Data Interchange-Internet Integration Applicability Statement 2 (EDIINT AS2). Last year, Wal-Mart asked its nearly 10,000 suppliers to begin using the standard as an alternative to expensive value-added networks. Wal-Mart's actions even influence its big-retailer competitors, says Eric Peters, senior VP of products and strategy at Manhattan Associates Inc. Manhattan Associates develops applications for supply-chain and trading-partner management that companies such as Sulyn Industries use in their relationships with big customers such as Wal-Mart to comply with their technical requirements, including RFID and EDIINT AS2. Peters says Wal-Mart's competitors with which he works say they can't let Wal-Mart get more than six months ahead in adopting new business-technology practices. They're comfortable letting Wal-Mart take a lead in adopting technology such as RFID, as long as they can be close followers. 'As competitors to Wal-Mart, they can't let them gain too much of a competitive edge,' Peters says. With its relentless chip innovation, Intel has done as much as any company to explore what's possible with IT. But as a major market influencer, Intel also leverages its sway with its suppliers to try to modify how businesses use technology. Intel is a strong proponent of RosettaNet, a set of XML-based standards used to automate business-to-business transactions that it's increasingly using with customers and suppliers. Since 2000, when Intel began using RosettaNet, the company has adapted 28 of its transaction systems, including ordering, payment, and inventory status, to support the standards..." See also "Physical Markup Language (PML) for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)."

  • [July 21, 2003] "Auto-ID Center Opens Demo Lab." By [RFID Journal Staff]. In RFID Journal News (July 11, 2003). ['The center today opened a robotic demonstration lab at its facility in Cambridge, England, to show off RFID's manufacturing capabilities.'] "Most of the focus on low-cost RFID has been on moving items from manufacturer to distribution center to store. Today, the Auto-ID Center opened a robotic demonstration at its facility in Cambridge, England, which shows the value of robots being able to identify unique items... The demonstration highlights automatic picking, placing, storage and flexible packaging. The lab has product bins where tagged items are stored before being packed. There is a packing area, where empty gift boxes come in, and a storage area for individual items that haven't been packed. A robot in the middle of the station can perform several different tasks. The robot chooses from a variety of Gillette products, including razors and deodorants, to assemble a gift pack. There are two different types of packaging. As a new package comes into the station, the RFID tag on it tells the robot what type of package it is and triggers the order... [In the Auto-ID Center's system] the RFID tag contains an EPC, a serial number that identifies the unique item. When a reader picks up an EPC code, it sends the number to a computer running something called a Savant. Savants are distributed software programs that manage data. They can, for instance, eliminate duplicate codes if two readers pick up the same item. The Savant sends the EPC to an Object Name Service, which is similar to the Web's Domain Name Service. ONS points the Savant to a Physical Markup Language (PML) server where data on the product is stored. PML is [based upon] XML, created by the Auto-ID Center to describe products in ways computers could understand and respond to. The PML server then sends instructions to the robot. Mark Harrison, a research associate at the Auto-ID Center, says the the robot needs only to be connected to the Internet. Instructions can be sent from a PML server located literally anywhere in the world; to reduce latency, of course, it makes sense to use a PML server located fairly close to the robot. Harrison says that the interaction between the item and the robot happens quickly because only a small fragment of the PML file is actually sent to the robot..." Note, on the (evidently misplaced) concern for privacy, WRT RFID: "Big Brother's Enemy," by RFID Journal editor Mark Roberti. See: (1) Auto-ID Center website; (2) "Physical Markup Language (PML) for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)."

  • [July 08, 2003] "Business Technology: Timing Is Everything In Making Jump To RFID." In InformationWeek (July 07, 2003). "'Now is the time. It's not too late. A year from now is too late.' The quotation comes from Mike DiYeso, chief operating officer of the Uniform Code Council, which 30 years ago began pushing universal product codes that have since become ubiquitous in things like scannable bar codes. DiYeso spoke those lines during a talk focusing on the rapidly emergent technology of RFID, or radio-frequency identification, at the recent Retail Systems Conference... I think it's just about impossible to overstate the business impact that RFID technologies could have if they're deployed thoughtfully and broadly. Efficiency, security, timeliness, paper reduction, accuracy, automation, visibility, tracking, load optimization, and collaboration are only the first of many areas that will be reshaped and probably dramatically improved via these tiny antenna-equipped chips. We first covered this new technology in September [2002] when researchers from the Auto-ID Center at MIT said that a combination of technological breakthroughs plus broader industry acceptance could push the unit price for these highly intelligent devices down to 5 cents or less..." Note: According to RFID Journal, "The Japanese government has allocated 950 to 956 MHz for RFID, paving the way for the global adoption of UHF tags for supply chain tracking. UHF is critical to the widespread adoption of RFID because it's the only frequency band that provides the extended read range needed to track goods in a supply chain setting. Most governments have already set aside 13.56 MHz for high-frequency RFID systems, which are suitable for applications where longer read ranges are not critical. But countries have not been able to harmonize the use of the UHF spectrum for RFID... The decision by the Japanese government is significant because it paves the way for a truly global system of tracking goods using UHF tags. The rest of Asia will likely follow in Japan's footsteps because Japan is such a powerful economic force in the region. China, in fact, is already looking to open up the UHF spectrum for RFID systems..." See: (1) "Microsoft Announces Commitment to Support Uniform Code Council In Commercialization of RFID Technology"; (2) "Physical Markup Language (PML) for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)."

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