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Proposed GS1 Specification Would Link Bar-Code, QR-Code, NFC and RFID Data

The organization's working group is planning a summer release of its new spec, while EVRYTHNG, a software company co-chairing the group, is selling its own platform to manage data about a product in a single location, whether accessed via NFC, RFID or bar-code technology.
By Claire Swedberg

UHF RFID tags are increasingly being applied to products in the apparel and electronics retail markets, Murphy says, and those EPC UHF tags could benefit from the new standard as well. "A single tag with a QR code for consumer interaction and an UHF RFID tag for supply chain interaction can both be linked to the same product item through their same GS1 GTIN," he states. All data generated from the QR code scan or UHF tag read could then be managed in a cohesive way.

"Viewed in the context of digitalization of the supply chain, RFID is playing a key role," Murphy says. But with the growing presence of smartphones that can scan QR codes and read NFC tags, he adds, there is a need to integrate solutions.

According to Murphy, the specification will play a role in organizing and consolidating transaction data. He cites the standardization as comsumerizing infrastructure data, since it provides consumers with increased visibility into a product, while also enabling stores and brands to better understand product purchases and consumer behavior. "Smartphones provide a powerful way to collect data about products because of their ubiquity," he says.

The QuickStart Online Tool software platform can manage all data related to the scans or reads, the company reports, as well as assign the necessary Web address to each product label. It also enables such applications as delivery of product information, consumer rewards or product authentication.

Several companies are already using the platform without the standard, including Rebecca Minkoff, to enable the consolidation of data from multiple technologies and sources (see Rebecca Minkoff Extends Its RFID System Beyond the Store). However, Murphy says, "We firmly believe in standards as a way to achieve scale."

EVRYTHNG feels a sense of urgency for the industry when it comes to the standard release, according to Murphy, since mobile operating systems in individuals' phones and tablets are already able to access data via QR codes and NFC. "From our perspective," he states, "the goal is for every product to have a digital identity in the cloud," and to ensure that there are standards regarding the access and use of that identity.

"Some two billion mobile devices can read QR codes and NFC tags automatically," Murphy says. "The missing bit has been to make those codes available on every product at scale, and to link those codes with product data. The GS1 URI will achieve that."

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