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RFID Vendors Collaborate on Open-Source LLRP Project

By offering an open-source low-level reader protocol toolkit to RFID interrogator manufacturers and software developers, the group expects to help lower the cost of RFID implementations.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jul 25, 2007A group of RFID technology vendors and organizations have developed an open-source toolkit for software developers looking to implement the Low-Level Reader Protocol (LLRP), a standard ratified in April by EPCglobal. LLRP is a specification for the network interface (reader client software) between an ISO 18000-6C or EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogator and its controlling software.

The group created the toolkit to provide interrogator and software developers a means of easily accessing the LLRP specification so they could implement it in their products. The group believes implementing LLRP will enable faster, less complex RFID deployments, which should make deploying the technology easier for end users.

The group is comprised of representatives from enterprise software provider IBM, RFID middleware and RFID application developers OATSystems and Pramari, and the University of Arkansas, along with RFID hardware vendors Impinj, Intermec and Reva Systems. The group is encouraging other organizations or individuals to join as well, by contributing to the toolkit. The companies involved in the group share a common goal: reducing the technological and financial barriers end users face as they consider deploying RFID technology to address business problems or respond to customer requirements.

All group members are using LLRP as they develop new products. Impinj's principal software architect, Paul Dietrich, says his company is currently developing software that end users will be able to upload onto existing Impinj readers, enabling them to use the protocol. If all or most Gen 2 reader manufacturers adopt LLRP, he says, that will lower some of the technical barriers currently experienced by end users, such as long deployment times and the need to utilize reader client software that supports the various manufacturers' readers they decide to use. With widespread adoption of the standard protocol by reader manufacturers, interfaces between readers and software would be consistent across manufacturers, making it easier for users to add RFID readers from various manufacturers onto a network of interrogators.

Currently, explains Prasith Govin, CTO of Pramari, RFID software developers require training from each Gen 2 reader maker, since each company uses its own proprietary software interfaces. This adds cost and complexity to each software package, not to mention development time. What's more, systems integrators or end users purchasing the RFID software must be certain the software platform supports the RFID readers they intend to employ.

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