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InfinID Releases EPC Compliance Tool

Using the company's own software and a variety of hardware components, EZ-EPC is designed to get tagging operations up and running.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Apr 01, 2005InfinID Technologies, a newly formed Pasadena, Calif.-based software development company specializing in RFID, has released its first product, EZ-EPC. InfinID developed EZ-EPC, an RFID tagging system that includes an RFID reader and RFID label printer-encoder, for companies under RFID mandates from retailers or the U.S. Department of Defense.

The EZ-EPC software, developed by InfinID using Microsoft's .NET architecture, is the core element of InfinID's offering. The software allows users to print smart labels for cases or pallets of a product by querying a relational database for the product's profile. If the end user company already has an EPC UHF Class 1 printer-encoder, Class 1 RFID reader and other hardware needed to run the software and generate RFID tags, the company can purchase the software only. If not, the company can purchase the software and hardware as a package. Rod Goodman, InfinID's CTO, says the EZ-EPC software was "architected so that it would have minimum impact on the user's existing solutions" including enterprise resource and warehouse management systems and accounting programs. The EZ-EPC software can be integrated into systems based in Microsoft's SQL server, Oracle Database 10g or IBM DB2 by using standardized Java or Microsoft database interfaces or the EZ-EPC .NET application program interface.

The EZ-EPC cart includes an RFID reader and label printer-encoder.
The EZ-EPC tagging system consists of a rolling, electrostatic-proof cart that carries a PC, ruggedized to withstand vibrations, dirt and other elements of industrial environments, with both Wi-Fi and Ethernet communication ports so that the PC can be linked to a network; a touch-screen monitor, small keyboard and mouse; and a laser printer for printing reports on the user's tagging system, such as the number of items tagged and how many bad tags were generated in a given time.

The cart also carries a UHF EPC Class 1 RFID label printer-encoder: Zebra Technologies' R110XI (which also prints Class 0 and 0+ smart labels, though the EZ-EPC system works only with Class 1 tags) or the Printronix SL5000E C1, depending on the user's wishes. Alien Technology's ALR-9640 reader attached to a swinging arm mounted on the cart, is used to verify that the RFID tag in the smart label can be read. The cart also includes a bar code scanner that can read regular bar codes or 2D bar codes.

Goodman says all components of the EZ-EPC will be upgradeable, via firmware, to EPCglobal's Gen 2 Class 1 standard once hardware based on that standard becomes available.

The EZ-EPC software runs in either administrator or operator mode. The administrator mode is used to establish profiles of each product to be tagged; the operator mode is used to print and verify the smart labels. For each case of a specific product to be tagged, the administrator sets up the product’s profile, which includes information such as a product’s global trade identification number (GTIN) or, for suppliers to the Department of Defense, a NATO stock number (NSN). The profile is saved in the EZ-EPC database so that when the operator wants to generate a smart label for cases of that specific product, he can just scan the GTIN on the bar code label on the case and the EZ-EPC will pull the product profile information to generate an EPC number for the case.

The operator then uses the touch-screen to start printing smart labels for the cases, inputting the number of smart labels needed. The operator places a label on each case and uses the Alien reader to verify that the RFID tag in each label is functioning. The operator sets aside the cases with nonfunctioning smart labels and instructs the system to cancel the EPC numbers assigned to those smart labels. The operator scans the bar code of each nonfunctional smart label to complete the cancellation. The system then generates replacement smart labels for those cases.

The EZ-EPC software also includes patent-pending functionality that allows the administrator to determine the optimal smart label placement on each specific case of goods. He does this by slowly moving an RFID tag around the case while the case is in the reader's interrogation zone. The EZ-EPC software, linked to the reader, measures the strength of the RF signal as the tag moves around the case and then suggests on what face of the case and where on that face the smart label should be placed for optimal readability. The administrator can then take a digital photograph of the case with the smart label in this optimal place (a digital camera is not included with the EZ-EPC system), save the image as a JPEG file and link the image to the item's profile in the EZ-EPC software. When the operator calls up the profile, he would see this image and know where on the case to place the label.

The user can choose to purchase just the EZ-EPC software for $24,995. A standalone EZ-EPC cart, which includes all the hardware and software but does not link into the user's existing IT system, is $34,995, and the user can run up to nine standalone units generating unique EPC numbers. For the enterprise edition of EZ-EPC, the software fee is $34,995, and the hardware fee is $9,999. Each additional software license is $9,999, and each additional hardware setup is $9,999. The enterprise edition includes software for networking all of the carts into one central server that generates EPC numbers. If the customer elects not to install the enterprise software itself, InfinID will handle the installation for an additional, undisclosed fee.
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