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Reva Taps Into Reader Networks

The company says its data-filtering TAP device will help end users scale their RFID deployments while keeping reader management centralized.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 19, 2005Reva Systems, a startup that develops solutions for managing networks of RFID readers, has announced its first product: the Tag Acquisition Processor (TAP). Designed to act as a central command post for numerous networks of RFID interrogators (readers), the TAP is a rack-mountable device that plugs into networks of interrogators and the user's local area network (LAN). The TAP filters and aggregates tag reads before sending the tag data to software applications running at the enterprise level.

Users can configure interrogators linked to the TAP through an interface called the management console, a Java-based program that comes with the processor and can be accessed either locally or remotely. Reva Systems' CEO and cofounder, Ashley Stephenson, says the TAP supports readers from all major RFID reader manufacturers, including Alien Technology, Intermec Technologies, ThingMagic and SAMSys. He says Reva has tested the TAP with up to 100 readers, but that it's impossible to say exactly how many the device can support because the amount of data it processes at any given moment is a function not only of how many readers are linked to it, but also of how many tags those readers are sensing. Users will likely begin deployments with a single TAP processor, then add more processors as the number of readers and tag reads grows.

The Tag Acquisition Processor (TAP). a rack-mountable device from Reva Systems.

"As RFID matures, there is this need for what we call the RFID network infrastructure layer, that will [centrally] operate the readers at the facility level and deliver the RFID data to the software-based integration and application environments that consume that data," says Stephenson. "We don't believe you need a separate server and middleware at each facility."

Reva says its TAP will benefit users by enabling them to configure, manage and monitor readers by means of a centralized tool instead of device management software installed at each facility. Reva says the TAP could also lower deployment costs by allowing end users to purchase low-cost readers. A TAP could serve as a conduit for RFID data, sending tag reads to various applications for analysis, thereby reducing the need to purchase higher-cost readers with onboard processing power and applications. While these highly intelligent readers do have value in some applications, Stephenson says, they are not needed at every read point. "Distributing business logic to the dock door doesn't always makes sense," he explains.

The TAP links to RFID and supply chain software through standard interfaces, such as application-level events (ALE), EPCglobal's data standard that directs how EPC data is collected and filtered (see EPCglobal Ratifies ALE Software Standard). It also utilizes structured query language (SQL) for handling database queries, and Java messaging service (JMS) for sending messages about read events to enterprise software applications.

Reva is developing application-specific interfaces that will allow users to send data to these platforms through the TAP. It has already completed and tested a standard interface between the TAP and SAP's Auto-ID Interface (AII), an RFID middleware that routes data from readers to applications. The test involved the transmission of a large quantity of passive RFID tag data to SAP AII. This data was also sent to the SAP NetWeaver integration and application platform, and the mySAP enterprise resource-planning platform.

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