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The Tower of RFID Babble

Standards bodies need to communicate with one another to ensure that end users don’t have to deal with different standards for different applications.
By Mark Roberti
Tags: Standards
This is a bad thing for everyone for several reasons. First, the price of RFID tags will only fall if there are large enough volumes to drive efficiencies. You could conceivably pay 5 cents for a tag that's manufactured in the billions, but we'll never get to the billions of any one tag if everyone is using a different tag type.

Another problem is the cost of managing different types of interrogators. It will be expensive to manage a network of UHF interrogators. However, the cost and complexity increase dramatically if you need to have multi-protocol UHF and 13.56 MHz interrogators.

It will never be possible to have one tag and one protocol for all applications. RFID simply isn't a one-size-fits-all technology. Still, it's in everyone's interest to try to keep the number of air-interface protocol standards, tag data standards and application standards (which establish what to tag, where to tag it and so on) to the minimum. The whole point of standards, after all, is to make it easier for companies to do business with one another.

At the recent AIM Global Annual Showcase in Newport Beach, Calif., Alan Haberman suggested the industry hold an “RFID Standards Watch” conference. Alan knows a thing or two about standards. He is often referred to as the father of the bar code, because he chaired the subcommittee in the 1970s that came up with the standard for the original Universal Product Code. He helped to organize, on behalf of UCC/EAN, the MIT Auto-ID Center and was its first chair. He is currently chairman of subcommittee 31 on automatic identification and data capture techniques of ISO's Joint Technical Committee 1 on information technology. The goal of the summit would be to let standards bodies across industries hear what other bodies are doing and why. This will enable appropriate bodies to work together to rationalize standards within industries and perhaps groups of related industries.

I'd be more than happy to donate space at RFID Journal LIVE!, our annual conference and exhibition, to facilitate this kind of meeting. I propose, therefore, that we hold a planning meeting at this year's event, which will be held in Las Vegas, May 1 to May 3. If you represent a standards body and are interested in participating, please e-mail me at editor@rfidjournal.com.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below.

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