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International RFID Institute Prepares Certification Program

The nonprofit group intends to develop tests focused on the fundamental information necessary for all RFID professionals, while also supporting education and research for members of the industry.
By Claire Swedberg

Bent's immediate goals are to launch the foundation's certification, and then to begin building on that foundation by adding additional certification programs. "We need to bring together and build the community," he says, "working with partners and other subject-matter experts to accomplish this."

Bent began his career as an electrical engineer, supporting the design of wireless government communications equipment and then designing very-large-scale integration (VLSI) semiconductors for communications products at RCA. After 10 years of designing software and systems at IBM, Apple, and his first startup, Network24 (since acquired by Akamai), he joined Savi Technology in 2002. He then launched Bent Systems in 2004, focusing on RFID software solutions, and coauthored two RFID standards developed by EPCglobal: Application Level Events (ALE) and Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS). Bent Systems develops RFID solutions and provides RFID consulting and systems integration services, primarily in the supply chain, asset-management and health-care markets.

CompTIA had created the certification program in 2007 to provide the RFID industry with certification tests that vendors could complete in order to gain CompTIA RFID+ certification indicating that their technology met a specific set of standards. The organization terminated that program in December 2011, however, explaining that demand was too low to justify the cost of updating the exam. Part of the problem for CompTIA, Bent says, was the further development of RFID system technology following the program's launch in 2007. Because the technology was changing rapidly, changes needed to be regularly made to the certification tests to remain current. Since 2011, he argues, the technology has evolved even further. The RFID Institute will focus not only on providing the initial certifications, but also on renewals and growth of the certifications as necessary. "All of our founders—and most of our likely members—live and breathe RFID every day, so staying current with advancing technology should be easier for us," Bent states.

Although the University of Arkansas offers certification programs for some RFID technologies, it tends to focus on the retail market, while the RFID Institute intends to cover all common use cases of radio frequency identification. The institute's certification program will cover all forms of RFID, Bent reports, including active, passive and battery-assisted tags, real-time locating systems (RTLS), and NFC devices (either active or passive), as well as all RFID frequency bands (including, but not limited to, 125 kHz, 13.56 MHz, 433 MHz, 860 to 960 MHz and 2.4 GHz) and all RFID standards (for example, EPC Gen 2, Dash7, ZigBee and ISO 14443). It will also cover RFID-enabled sensors and software.

The institute is now focused on attracting new members, and on developing certification content, including roadmaps, blueprints, questions, exams and credentials. Members will include both U.S. and international representatives of the industry, such as hardware and software companies, systems integrators, training organizations, media companies, academic organizations, other nonprofit groups and government agencies. Those who become advisory council members can nominate subject-matter experts to help develop the certification's content.

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