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News from RFID Journal's Industry Summits

At this week's conference, attendees heard from vendors, public-policy analysts and their peers about how they could gain value from RFID in their specific industries.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor and Claire Swedberg
Sep 29, 2006Professionals from the aerospace, manufacturing, retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and pharmaceuticals industries gathered in Chicago this week for the first annual RFID Journal Industry Summits.

EPCglobal president Mike Meranda opened the event on Wednesday with a membership update—941 organizations around the world, with strong growth in Asia—and provided some clarification on the emerging EPCglobal Network, dispelling what he called misnomers about what it is and who will access it.

Brian Millsap
"The EPCglobal Network is not a single, magic network that all companies will use," Meranda said. Rather, he explained, each company that generates and needs to share EPC data with trading partners will use software that exists within each firm's computer network, based on EPCglobal Network standards. These standards will ensure that any data companies choose to share with each other is generated in standard formats. Last year, EPCglobal ratified the application-level events (ALE) standard, an important software tool in the EPCglobal Network model that provides an interface for filtering and consolidating EPC data from interrogators (see EPCglobal Ratifies ALE Software Standard). Another standard, the EPC Information Services (EPCIS), for exchanging and querying RFID-related data, is in its final working draft. Meranda stopped short of predicting how soon this specification would be ratified, noting that some middleware providers are already releasing software using the draft specification.

According to Meranda, EPCglobal is making headway in its creation of a high-frequency passive tag protocol (see EPCglobal Developing HF Tag Standard). He added that at an EPCglobal meeting in Düsseldorf last week, the company convened a joint requirements group to consider an EPC standard for active RFID tags.

The group's objective is to develop requirements and guidelines for a potential specification for active RFID tags—tags with an internal power source—and their readers. EPCglobal says the formation of such a group is the first step toward developing a working group to generate an air-interface protocol for active tags.

The issues of tag data security, intellectual property, regulatory actions and consumer privacy concerns were a major focus of the Industry Summits event, which included a pre-conference dedicated to those topics (see RFID Legal Education Should be Job One, Say Policy Experts). Regarding tag security, Meranda said EPCglobal believes the focus should be not on how to protect data encoded to a tag but, rather, its meaning. "Most companies are more concerned with securing data than securing a tag," he said.

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