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The Chasm Between RFID Standards and Implementation

The Automotive Industry Action Group's B-11 Revision 8 Item-Level RFID standard, just released, provides a means for achieving RFID's full capability.
By Bill Hoffman
Nov 16, 2009Most readers of RFID Journal know that RFID stands for radio frequency identification, and that the technology is used, among other functions, to track things—kind of like electronic bar codes. However, most reported implementations only utilize the most basic feature of the technology—the unique identification (UII) number, or birth record. Although standards are intended to enable the use of technology, perhaps the large number of standards is actually an impediment to the broad use of RFID's full capability.

It need not be so. One standard, in particular, now exists that attempts to illustrate, through examples, how to implement the proper coding of information beyond a simple ID into an RFID tag's memory: the just-released B-11 Revision 8 Item-Level RFID standard, developed by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), a nonprofit organization whose 500-plus company membership includes Caterpillar, Chrysler Group LLC, Daimler, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Honda, Navistar International, Nissan, Toyota and many of these companies' parts suppliers and service providers.

Standards—What Good Are They?
Doing things according to standards—or accepted rules of conduct (behavior)—is critical for everyday life. Without adherence to these norms, automobile traffic flow through intersections could be deadly, and people wouldn't be able to communicate using telephones, faxes or the Internet.

Specific to this article, the accepted rules of conduct for RFID are embodied in such standards as ISO/IEC 18000-6 Type C, EPCglobal Gen 2 UHF, ISO/IEC 15961, ISO/IEC 15962, EPCglobal TDS 1.5, ISO 1736x and numerous others (see the Reference Section of the Automotive Industry Action Group's B-11 Revision 8).

The Problem
This partial list of relevant standards illustrates what is perceived as the problem—there are many standards, and they can be very difficult to comprehend. It is especially difficult for those who are not RFID experts. Trying to sort through, decipher and understand the content of all of these standards—and then to implement them—can be very daunting.

The Solution
The purpose of B-11 Rev 8 is to enable those who don't want to become experts in a new technology to still be able to use it, and to understand it at a high level without having to master the nitty-gritty.

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