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RFID Reader Interoperability Takes a Step Forward

Seven RFID organizations announced an open-source software development initiative to promote and simplify the integration of the EPCglobal Low Level Reader Protocol (LLRP) standard. LLRP is a standard interface for integrating RFID equipment from multiple vendors in a single system, and for controlling reader functions from software.
Tags: Standards
Jul 25, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 25, 2007—Today a consortium of seven leading RFID organizations announced their joint development of software libraries to support the EPCglobal Low Level Reader Protocol (LLRP) standard. The organizations are developing a software toolkit and open source downloadable libraries to simplify software development and improve interoperability of RFID devices.

LLRP defines a standard interface for networked RFID readers that EPCglobal ratified earlier this year. LLRP is not required to use or integrate Gen2 equipment and software applications, and is not something that end users would typically deal with directly. It is targeted at software developers, to allow them to build support for RFID devices from different vendors into their applications without having to learn proprietary code for each vendor.

For example, a developer that is building a dock door RFID reading application today might have to program separate code to interface with each RFID reader vendor -- one piece of code for Impinj's readers, one for Alien's readers, one for Symbol/Motorola, etc. With LLRP, by contrast, the developer can program a single piece of software that can then work with any reader that supports the interface. The result is better interoperability. The new LLRP Toolkit was created to help developers use LLRP, enabling simplified and more rapid application development.

"The LLRP Toolkit provides libraries so programmers can easily speak the language of the RFID device," Paul Dietrich, principal software architect at Impinj, told RFID Update. "LLRP provides greater interoperability among devices. Now, middleware has proprietary interfaces for readers from different manufacturers, and there have been some difficulties for end users to integrate different devices. LLRP improves the interoperability. It takes it to a new level -- now there is interoperability at the network level, not just the air interface."

Impinj is one of the seven organizations that developed the initial toolkit. The others are IBM, Intermec, OATSystems, Pramari, Reva Systems, and the University of Arkansas. The group operates a website that provides more detail about the project.

The LLRP Toolkit can be downloaded from SourceForge.net.

The toolkit includes software libraries developers can use to interface with RFID devices and software applications. Libraries are currently available for Perl, C++, and Java languages. The consortium expects downloadable libraries to be available next quarter.

"One of the goals for making our announcement is to attract others to the project. We'd like to see libraries develop for C, .NET, and other environments," said Dietrich.

Reva Systems previously developed an LLRP developer's kit, which Intel provides with the R1000 Gen2 reader chip used by vendors to build RFID readers (see RFID Vendors Rally Around Intel's New Chip).
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