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Are There Any Standards Specifying Reader-Tag Communications Without Making Assumptions About the Air Interface?

Posted By RFID Journal, 08.29.2012
I have a Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) interface that I'd like to re-use for the air interface, but I would like to have standards-based tag-reader communication on top of this. Is there a standard that would make this possible?

—Name withheld

My first thought was no, all standards include the air-interface protocol, but I reached out to Craig K. Harmon, Q.E.D. Systems' president and CEO, who is an internationally renowned expert on RFID standards. Here is Craig's response:

"The purpose of standards is to permit interoperability, so absent advanced 'cognitive radio' or 'software-defined radio' development, combined with fractal or multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas, it is unlikely that you will be able to have an air-interface-agnostic reader-tag communications platform. Since you have a WPAN interface, I presume that you are aware of the efforts in IEEE 802.15.4-2011 (and its next amendment, 802.15.4f), which currently has 10 frequency bands ranging from 314 MHz through 8,985.6 MHz. Here, they attempt to share higher-level media layers and lower-level host layers with multiple physical (PHY) and media access-control (MAC) layers. With today's technology it would be quite difficult to build a single device that would communicate with all, but that does not stop them from putting all of these in a single 'standard,' so one can claim compliance with various clauses of 802.15.4. It would have been possible to build a single MAC layer to serve all of these PHYs; however, participant investment in existing devices made that impossible. Someday, it is likely that a concept such as you mention will be available—however, we just ain't there yet!"

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor,
RFID Journal

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