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What Do I Need to Know When Buying an RFID Developer's Kit?
I am an experienced C programmer, but a beginner when it comes to radio frequency identification. I am currently planning a hands-on RFID deployment and would appreciate some advice.
The first thing you need to understand is that radio frequency identification is not a single technology. There are many different types of RFID, including passive low-frequency (LF), high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (HF), as well as active systems and hybrid solutions (RFID combined with GPS, infrared or some other technology). So choosing the right developer's kit for your needs would start with the type of RFID system you are interested in developing.
To my knowledge, there have been no reviews of RFID development kits released. As such, I cannot tell you which one would be better for you, or why. That said, below is a sampling of some developer's kits currently available.
Alien Technology offers the ALR-9900+ Developer Kit, which includes all necessary components for developing an RFID solution. The kit comes with Alien's ALR-9900+ RFID reader, which enables users to deploy more efficient and manageable solutions across a variety of industrial verticals.
CAEN RFID, a manufacturer of passive UHF readers, offers a software developer's kit including software libraries that, according to its Web site, "define a high-level object-oriented interface that permits the communication with all easy2read readers, allowing the developers to focus their commitment on the application logic instead of wasting time with the communication protocol details." CAEN RFID provides libraries for Visual C++, Java and Microsoft .Net. These tools aim to make it easier to link CAEN readers with middleware and enterprise applications.
ThingMagic, a provider of passive UHF RFID readers and modules, offers developer's kits for its fixed readers, as well as one for reader modules. Each kit "contains all the components necessary to begin reading and writing RFID tags and developing RFID-enabled applications," according to the company's Web site. The kit also comes with the Mercury API, which includes code examples and a graphical read-write demonstration program, and "delivers a consistent programmatic interface for development with all ThingMagic fixed and embedded reader products."
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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