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GlobeRanger Updates iMotion for Gen 2

The software company has released a version of its RFID middleware that can handle the new features and functions Gen 2 tags and readers provide.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Sep 09, 2005GlobeRanger, a Richardson, Texas, provider of supply chain software and RFID middleware, has released a version of its iMotion Edgeware platform that can handle the new features and functions provided by Gen 2 tags and readers. "Some functions in the Gen 2 standard go above and beyond what the baseline denominator was in Gen 1 standard," says Pete Poorman, GlobeRanger’s director of product management. the "These functions have implications in the software layer above the Gen 2 tags and readers."

The iMotion Edgeware is a middleware layer that manages RFID and other auto-ID devices, such as bar code scanners. It then processes data gathered from those devices and links it with supply chain management software. The platform now supports new tag and reader functions enabled by the Gen 2 standard, Poorman says, so it can leverage all of the capabilities that built into the Gen 2 standard. These include the ability to lock a tag so it can't be read from an unauthorized reader, to protect a tag's data using a password and to make it inoperable through a kill command.

GlobeRanger's Pete Poorman
In addition, memory on the Gen 2 tag is divided into three fields: one for a tag ID, one for the EPC and one for additional memory. The latter can be used for supplemental information, as determined by the user. The iMotion platform, therefore, must be able to read, store data in and process these three fields "so that companies can build solutions based on these extra capabilities," says Poorman.

The iMotion Edgeware platform can now process these functions. It also accommodates other differences between the Gen 2 and Gen 1 air interface protocols. For example, the Gen 2 standard specifies a Q algorithm. The value of the Q tells the reader how many tags it is likely to read at any one time. By adjusting this value, one can optimize the performance of the interrogator's antenna.

Some data can be filtered in the air protocol rather than in the reader or middleware. For example, the Gen 2 standard enables a reader to search for a specific type of tag, such as a pallet tag, so that it only reads EPCs assigned to pallets. This keeps the data systems from being flooded with extraneous EPCs.

"These are basic radio frequency settings, but they need to be set appropriately by the iMotion platform for the particular deployment and use," says Poorman. By building the configuration of these settings into the iMotion platform, he explains, end users can adjust a network of readers at once rather than adjusting each reader, one by one, for specific applications.

GlobeRanger has also made the platform compliant with the latest EPCglobal Tag Data Standard, version 1.27. The new standard describes how the EPC data on an RFID tag is to be encoded, and accommodates new extended uses and data types, including codes used by the Department of Defense. However, Poorman says, the EPC Tag Data Standard will continue to evolve, so in order to simplify future updates to the iMotion platform, GlobeRanger is providing the upgrade to Tag Data Standard 1.27 as a software module downloadable from GlobeRanger’s Web site.

Additionally, the company has enabled iMotion to manage data using the application level events (ALE) specification currently under review by EPCglobal for standardization. As a result of its ALE-enabled functionality, iMotion can organize the EPC data collected by readers for use by other systems that apply business logic to the data. Adding the latest ALE specification to the iMotion platform makes it easier for specific applications to access desired data from RFID reads.

GlobeRanger, Poorman says, is working to stay current with future EPCglobal standards and specifications in order to provide end users a means of leveraging new EPC functionality. For example, EPCglobal working groups are in the process of defining standards for how the additional memory on an RFID tag could be encoded for industry-specific applications, such as those in the pharmaceutical industry. Poorman expects GlobeRanger to be able to support those through encoding modules for the iMotion platform.
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