Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

RAIN RFID Alliance Releases Guideline for Simplified Reader Commands

The RAIN Communication Interface guideline provides a way for UHF RFID solution providers to build systems that can communicate with any make or model of reader and operate in multiple applications with different reader types, thus eliminating the need for APIs.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 22, 2018

The RAIN RFID Alliance has published its RAIN Communication Interface (RCI) guideline, intended to enable easier controls of RFID readers with simple JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) commands. The RCI guideline allows technology providers to offer systems that could operate with any reader, thereby enabling deployments with multiple reader types, as well as offering a solution that could be used at many customer sites. As billions of tags are deployed on products and assets that might move through multiple RFID reader infrastructures, the organization reports, the guideline will make it easier for each application to identify tags of interest, and to automatically disregard those the system does not recognize.

The guideline was created by members of the RAIN RFID Alliance's Developers Workgroup after systems integrators asked for an easier way to control readers. RCI's profile command replaces the need for a reader to send a series of commands to identify a tag and then process that tag's response. Instead, the series of commands can be built into the single profile command. That function also eliminates the requirement for application programming interfaces (APIs) for each reader.

The guideline was first suggested in February 2016 at a Developers Workgroup meeting in Graz, Austria, says Steve Halliday, the RAIN RFID Alliance's president. "One of our end-user members raised the prospect of having an easy way to talk to all of his readers," he says, "no matter what brand they are."

For end users and systems integrators, the challenge is to have a hardware-agnostic system that will operate with any make or model of UHF RFID reader. Traditionally, all reader manufacturers have provided their own proprietary command protocols and software APIs. For integrators, Halliday explains, that provides multiple challenges. "For example," he says, "when installing readers at loading docks, for internal track-and-trace, and handhelds," he says, the software of end users or integrators had to be programmed to control a variety of readers in a single deployment, and to accommodate additional readers as they were added.

"The same situation occurs when the integrator takes their software application and wants to re-use it for the next deployment," Halliday says, and that end user specifies a different reader than the one the system already supports. In each case, systems integrators would then have to develop a custom solution for a deployment's reader hardware, adding complexity and excess effort, and resulting in solutions that were more complex than they needed to be. In addition, inefficient and complex standard interfaces (or APIs) led the integrators to ignore some of the often-used features of the interfaces, and to ultimately develop their own reader interfaces, resulting in a lack of reader interoperability and support for all of the intended features.

Login and post your comment!

Not a member?

Signup for an account now to access all of the features of RFIDJournal.com!

Case Studies Features Best Practices How-Tos
Live Events Virtual Events Webinars
Simply enter a question for our experts.
RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations