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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
Scott Burroughs, IBM's solutions executive for sensor and actuator solutions, says his firm became involved in the open-source software development program because the toolkit will have a big impact on easing the development of RFID reader client software to support interrogators using LLRP. Consequently, RFID system integrators will, in turn, no longer need to worry about compatibility between software and readers, allowing them to shorten deployment times for their customers. "This is about reducing the amount of complexity, work and expense to get the systems up and running," he says.

"The support by leading RFID technology providers for LLRP is great news for end users implementing scalable RFID deployments," said Mike O'Shea, global director of auto-ID sensing technology at Kimberly-Clark, in a prepared statement. "LLRP facilitates scalable and repeatable RFID supply-chain processes, and allows end users to take full advantage of advanced RFID reader capabilities while standardizing the common plumbing used to communicate with RFID readers." A member of EPCglobal's Reader Operations group, Kimberly-Clark has been active in the development and ratification of LLRP.

The toolkit is comprised of documentation and libraries of software code describing LLRP's various sets of commands and controls between a reader and middleware (the software used to control the reader). It is currently available in a preliminary "alpha" form in the Perl programming language, and is also being developed in Java, C, C++ and .NET. The group hopes to have final versions of these toolkits in Perl and C++ by the end of the third quarter, with final versions of the other languages coming soon thereafter. The toolkit is available under the Apache 2.0 license, which provides free software for both commercial and non-commercial use.

More information about the toolkit can be found at the project's Web site, LLRP Toolkit. The toolkit itself can be downloaded from the LLRP Toolkit Web site hosted at SourceForge.net, an Internet repository for open-source software.

Other EPC-related software standards ratified by EPCglobal include the application-level events protocol (see EPCglobal Ratifies ALE Software Standard), which defines how tag data is collected, filtered and forwarded onto applications, and the EPC Information Service (see EPCglobal Ratifies EPCIS Standard), a set of network standards enabling companies to securely share EPC data over the EPCglobal Network. While these are important for enabling supply-chain partners to share information securely and consistently, Dietrich says, the LLRP is a much more fundamental element of any RFID deployment, because it is concerned with how interrogators are installed and used to read tags.

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