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Major Release of Open Source RFID Platform

A major milestone release of the open source RFID platform Singularity was announced last month by the project's overseer i-Konect. This article recaps the release's functionality as well as the overall progress of the Singularity project.
Nov 18, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 18, 2005—Back in April, RFID Update reported on an open source RFID middleware initiative launched by i-Konect of Mason, Ohio. The company has subsequently made significant progress and last month announced the first major milestone release of the software, called Singularity. RFID Update spoke with the company founders and brothers Ron and Tom Rose about the progress of Singularity.

Last month's "M1 release" of the software focuses on the middleware component of the software, which captures and filters RFID data from a deployment's readers. Functionality includes device management, implementation of EPCglobal's recently ratified ALE standard, and administration controls. Complex event processing, security, and a rules engine are also featured. Finally, a build environment now exists by which a diverse and geographically distributed team of developers can work in parallel on the software. The M1 release "provides real code out there that people can view and understand to appreciate the value of the [Singularity] solution," according to Ron Rose. "Hopefully it's going to draw in a lot more support," he said. i-Konect expects to make one or two more milestone releases before an official 1.0 release in the first quarter of next year.

One of the philosophies driving the Singularity project is that core middleware functionality is the same for most uses of RFID and can therefore be commoditized into a base open source software platform upon which service providers and application developers can build value-added features. Working with, customizing, and extending Singularity for clients is in fact i-Konect's own business model. Ron hopes that eventually a larger benefactor might take the reigns. "Ideally, we'd like to see a large enterprise-type customer embrace Singularity, endorse it, and sort of sponsor it," he said, noting IBM as an example of a corporation that has done just that with other open source software.

In the meantime, i-Konect will continue to support the effort, drawing in more developer participation and implementing the software in the field (projects are underway in New Zealand and China). Ron was keen to note that Singularity is not restricted to RFID; it will be able to work with any sensor data generated at the edge. "We want to be clear that this is not just an RFID component system," he said. "Sensor technology is a key component to putting together a complete solution, and we always envisioned supporting a variety of technologies with this architecture." Tom continued, "We're looking beyond asset tracking and supply chain management to building other apps on top of Singularity as well. We're getting integrators asking for things like customer payments solutions and near field communications (NFC), for example."
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