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Auburn RFID Lab Holds Grand Opening

Some 250 people from RFID end-user companies and technology providers gathered at Auburn University to officially open the lab, which moved from the University of Arkansas.
By Mark Roberti
May 29, 2015

The RFID Research Center, founded by Dr. Bill Hardgrave at the University of Arkansas in 2005, announced plans to move to Alabama's Auburn University a year ago (see Arkansas RFID Research Center Moving to Auburn University). Last week, the newly named RFID Lab officially opened, though it had already been in operation for months. More than 200 individuals from Macy's, Target, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and other major companies were in attendance, along with representatives of RFID solution providers.

The lab is located inside a former supermarket, on the edge of the sprawling Auburn campus. The 13,000-square-foot facility contains a mockup of an apparel retail store, complete with shelves of jeans, a changing room and a point-of-sale counter. There are also areas where students can explore applications of RFID in grocery and convenience stores, as well as warehouse and distribution center environments.

Justin Patton, the RFID Lab's director, working the sales counter at the lab's mockup of an apparel retail store
The lab is supported by Auburn University's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business (of which Hardgrave is dean) and College of Human Sciences. The mission of the latter is to apply scientific principles to enhance the quality of life. Students from the College of Human Sciences have helped design the retail store's layout, and will work on such tasks as improving the customer experience at stores with RFID and other technologies.

Justin Patton, the lab's director, said the facility has three fundamental roles. The first is research, so it will publish one or two major papers about RFID each year. The second is education. The lab is thus staffed and run by students, who will learn both from the research they undertake and from working with companies that use the lab to understand how RFID can improve their operations.

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