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Show Report: RFID Journal LIVE! Canada

At RFID Journal's first Canadian conference, Wal-Mart Canada and other end users provided progress reports; EPCglobal Canada and EPCglobal US talked about their planned merger; and McMaster University announced the debut of its new RFID applications lab.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Nov 10, 2006"RFID has become an essential productivity tool in nearly every sector of the Canadian economy." Thus said Richard Simpson, director general of electronic commerce for Industry Canada, the Canadian government's economic development and innovation arm, during an opening keynote address at RFID Journal LIVE! Canada on Tuesday evening in Toronto. This sentiment became clear throughout the conference, as end users, academics, researchers and RFID vendors all shared experiences and insights they've gained while testing RFID over the past few years.

EPCglobal Canada, which cosponsored the event, announced that it and its U.S. counterpart, EPCglobal US, are in the final stages of negotiating a merging of the two organizations into a single entity to be called EPCglobal North America. EPCglobal and its national member organizations are working to commercialize electronic product code (EPC) and RFID technology through the development of standards.

Richard Simpson, one of the speakers at RFID Journal LIVE! Canada.

The reason for the move toward a single North American EPCglobal organization, said Arthur Smith, president and CEO of EPCglobal Canada, is to combine the two organizations' support services for RFID development in both nations.

EPCglobal was launched by GS1, an international industry group that sets standards and policy for the global supply chain. GS1's Canadian arm, GS1 Canada, announced last month that it had formed a public policy forum, in part to define issues regarding RFID, as well as to provide RFID-related information to Canadian companies working with retailers (including Wal-Mart Canada) and technology vendors (see Major Companies Establish Canada Public-Policy Forum).

The Public Policy Forum contains working groups that study consumer-privacy issues related to RFID and the technology's impact on human health and the environment. These are issues being considered not only in the Canadian government, but also by academia.

During the conference, Toronto-based McMaster University announced the opening of its new McMaster RFID Applications Lab (MRAL). The 1,100-square-foot center was the brainchild of Pankaj Sood, who, as a graduate student, identified the need for a center of RFID learning and technology testing that could serve both academics and Canadian industry. The lab contains RFID testing equipment and offers RFID system design and testing services. It also provides RFID information and project-consultation services.

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