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Interoperability Certified for 12 Gen2 RFID Products

EPCglobal announced the first products that have earned its new Gen2 hardware interoperability certification. Interoperability is the second of three types of certification EPCglobal plans to offer, which includes the standard conformance certification announced one year ago and the forthcoming performance specifications, which are in development.
Sep 14, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

September 14, 2006—Twelve Gen2 products from six manufacturers were the first to receive EPCglobal's new interoperability certification. The products are eligible to carry a new Gen2 interoperability mark, following successful testing conducted by MET Laboratories in Baltimore. The interoperability program is different from EPCglobal's Certification Mark program, which was launched exactly a year ago to designate product compliance with the Gen2 standard. It is the second of three types of certification EPCglobal plans to provide. The third will certify ability to meet various performance specifications and is currently in development.

"Interoperability certification gives users additional confidence that the products they're purchasing will perform as they should," EPCglobal spokesperson Pete Settles told RFID Update.

The first vendors and products to receive interoperability certification were announced earlier this week at EPCglobal's conference in Düsseldorf, Germany. The certified-interoperable products are:

Datamax DMX-A-4212, A-Class
DMX-H-4212X, H-Class
DMX-M-4208, M-Class
Impinj Speedway RFID Reader
Monza Tag
Intermec Technologies IT04U004TT001A, Large Rigid Tag
IM5 RFID radio module
Paxar Corporation Monarch Brand M09855 RFMP (US)
Monarch® Brand M09855 RFMP (EU)
Monarch® Brand M09855 RFMP (JPN)
Philips Austria GMBH Styria
(now NXP)
Raflatac G2
(Raflatac tag with NXP chip)
Sirit Technologies INfinity 510

EPCglobal will not publicly disclose products that do not pass the interoperability test, according to Settles, who did not say whether any products were rejected.

Certification is specific to each product, not the manufacturer, and is non-transferable. The Philips product was submitted for certification prior to the Philips Semiconductors spin-off and subsequent renaming to NXP on September 1.

Converters do not need to submit their tag and label products for standard Gen2 certification if the silicon chip used in their tags and labels was certified, but they do need to submit specific tag and label products for the interoperability certification, according to Dr. Chris Diorio. Diorio is co-founder, chairman and vice president of engineering at Impinj, and is also co-chair of the EPCglobal Hardware Action Group, which oversees the certification testing process.

RFID Update asked Diorio why a product certified for Gen2 conformance would need additional certification, and if it suggests a problem with Gen2 interoperability or the standard itself. He stressed that interoperability certification was planned all along and does not indicate there are interoperability problems with the Gen2 standard or legacy products. Having a separate interoperability certification for products that conform to a standard may seem redundant, but Diorio insists there is value in the multiple certification designations.

"Conformance certification tests for key parameters, for example if the tag backscatter is within tolerance, but it is impossible to test for everything," said Diorio. "Interoperability tests go beyond and test many additional command scripts. You can't avoid having some ambiguities in a specification, and manufacturers may interpret them differently, so you test."

A quote by EPCglobal President Chris Adcock in the organization's press release on the new certification program adds more perspective to the rationale behind it: "The EPCglobal community developed this program to provide a neutral and authoritative source for testing hardware products and providing information regarding certified products, and the vendors who manufacture them."

Exactly a year ago today, EPCglobal announced the first ten products from seven vendors to attain Gen2 conformance certification. There are currently 17 certified Gen2 conformant products, and only these products are eligible for the additional interoperability certification. Intermec's IM 5 module and Impinj's Monza chip and Speedway reader are the only products to earn both inaugural certifications. MET Laboratories conducts conformance and interoperability testing for EPCglobal.

The EPCglobal Hardware Action Group is currently defining specifications and parameters for performance testing, according to Diorio. The group will develop performance criteria to meet the needs of typical products and applications, for example case and pallet tracking, small item tracking or pharmaceutical product identification. Testing will follow after the specifications are defined, which is not expected until next year.

Read the official announcement from EPCglobal
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