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Tag Proposal Addresses Industry Needs

RFID tag data specialists from EPCglobal, ISO and an auto industry group have found a way for tire makers to include industry-specific data in EPC Gen 2 tags. Other industries could use the same approach.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Tags: Transport
Jan 31, 2006At a meeting of the Auto Industry Action Group (AIAG) last week in Detroit, an ad hoc team of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and EPCglobal representatives provided a roadmap for realizing a proposal to enable the EPCglobal UHF Gen 2 air-interface protocol protocol to accommodate other data formats used by not just the auto industry, but other vertical industries, as well. The group spearheaded the effort to develop the proposal, which it plans to submit to ISO's U.S. Technical Advisory Group (US TAG) for consideration, once ISO ratifies Gen 2 as ISO 18000-6c, which is expected to happen soon.

In December, Sue Hutchinson, the EPCglobal US director of product development, made a proposal to the AIAG that its members utilize the "user memory" portion of the EPC Gen 2/ISO 18000-6c protocol to encode with industry-specific data. Such data would include the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tire identification number, which provides information on its manufacturing date and location, into a tag (see Auto Industry RFID Data Standard Proposed). However, the group had not yet figured out how an RFID interrogator would access that user memory.

Craig Harmon
Specifically, the proposed revision is to use a bit (bit 15) within memory bank 01 of the protocol control section of the unique item identifier (UII) of the ISO 18000-6c and EPCglobal UHF Gen 2 air-interface protocol to indicate whether a user (e.g., Michelin) has encoded data to the user memory portion of the 18000-6C-compliant tag. Within this user memory, a tire maker would encode industry-specific data, such as the DOT tire ID. If the RFID interrogator reads bit 15 as a 1, indicating user memory is being used, it would then read the data within user memory. If bit 15 is a 0, the interrogator would not attempt to read the user memory section of the code.

This approach, sometimes referred to as a toggle bit, is already used within the Numbering System Identifier (NSI) field of the Gen 2 protocol to identify whether the tag uses an EPC, such as a serialized Global Trade Item?Number or a Serial Shipping Container Code, or an ISO Application Family Identifier (AFI), such as a part identification number or a unique item number called a license plate number (see Gen 2 Finds a Path to ISO Approval).

Using both of these toggle bits (bit 17 within the code's NSI and bit 15 within the UII), a tag encoded with the proposed revision could identify itself as one of four things: as an EPC (bit 17 is 0) with user memory (bit 15 is 1); an EPC (bit 17 is 0) without user memory (bit 15 is 0); an AFI (bit 17 is 1) with user memory (bit 15 is 1); or an AFI (bit 17 is 1) without user memory (bit 15 is 0).

The proposed revision also calls for the user memory to be formatted in compliance with the ISO 15961 and 15962 RFID data protocols, which were designed to provide a means of seeking out specific data from a tag, such as a unique identifier or an expiration date or lot number. "Say, all I want to read is the DOT code," explains Craig Harmon, president and CEO of information system consultancy QED Systems and US TAG SC 31's senior project editor for ISO 18000 air-interface standards. "The 15961/15962 protocol tells the [RFID interrogator] how to get that data."

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