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GS1 Ratifies EPC HF Standard, Aerospace Tag-Data Amendment

The two standards will allow Electronic Product Code numbers to be used on high-frequency passive tags, and will permit aerospace and military users to encode their own identifiers as a prefix in the EPC.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 06, 2011Nonprofit supply chain standards organization GS1 ratified two EPCglobal standards last month: the EPC HF RFID Air Interface Protocol version 2.0.3, and the Tag Data Standard (TDS) version 1.6. The new air-interface protocol will enable 13.56 MHz RFID technology to be utilized with Electronic Product Code (EPC) numbers, while the updated TDS will allow aerospace and defense users to include their own industry headers in the existing EPC identification system. Both standards can be downloaded for free from the EPCglobal section of GS1's Web site.

EPC HF RFID Air Interface Protocol v2.0.3 is a first for GS1, the organization reports, providing high-frequency (HF) technology manufacturers with a GS1 standard with which to comply that enables them to manufacture 13.56 MHz passive tags to be encoded with EPC numbers, as well as the interrogators to read those tags. The new HF standard provides an alternative to GS1's other air-interface protocol, the EPC Gen 2 specification for passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags and readers.

"GS1 is very happy it can offer two standards for tagging," says Paul Voordeckers, EPCglobal's president of industry engagement. "It's important for us to meet our members' needs."

The EPC HF v2.0.3 protocol matches the ISO 18000-3 Mode 3 (3M3) standard, published in November 2010 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In fact, GS1 and ISO have been working together to ensure that the ISO 18000-3M3 and GS1 EPC HF v2.0.3 protocols are the same. Both employ the same data structure as the ISO 18000-6C and EPC UHF Gen 2 RFID standards, says Giselle Ow-Yang, the standards manager of GS1's EPC RFID Hardware Group, and that same data structure enables HF and UHF tags to be operated by the same interrogator, though a standardized multifrequency component would need to be installed within that reader in order to enable this function. Currently, there are no readers on the market that can interrogate both HF (ISO 18000-3M3) and UHF (ISO 18000-6C) tags.

"As with any GS1 specification," Ow-Yang says, "this was developed at the point of user request." In 2006, members of the pharmaceutical and health-care industries had an especially keen interest in an HF standard that would allow the use of EPC-encoded HF tags to help manage items in the medical supply chain, as well as in hospitals. This, she says, is because the industry at that time perceived that it would require HF technology in some instances, but UHF in others.

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