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Microsoft Moves Into RFID in a Big Way

The software giant's stepped-up RFID activities signal the start of the next stage of RFID's development—a massive increase in software applications that leverage RFID data.
By Mark Roberti
The reason I believe we are starting to see the next stage in RFID's development is not just that Microsoft is jumping into the market in a big way, but also that software companies can now develop apps based on data-sharing and networking standards recently completed by EPCglobal. These data-sharing standards enable firms to share EPC data in the same format, which means anyone deploying EPC systems can use software based on those formats. And the EPC Information Service (EPCIS) standard, published in April, allows companies to share the data over the Internet securely and cost-effectively, so applications can interact automatically, machine to machine.

You'll soon see new applications for tracking and maintaining assets, and for tracking work-in-process, that can be used in any industry. But you will also see applications that target specific industries, such as retail, apparel and footwear, industrial manufacturing and food production.

Each of these industries has special needs. The apparel sector, for instance, is very concerned with managing multiple sizes and colors of the same item. The food industry, on the other hand, has to manage the temperature and shelf life of many products, as well as track shipments and record and save the data for regulatory purposes.

This is really the beginning of a very exciting next stage in RFID's maturation. Previously, companies had to either write their own applications or figure out a way to integrate RFID and existing systems that might not be designed to handle unique serial numbers.

At EPC Connection, attendees will see the first applications that will enable them to buy off-the-self solutions from Microsoft, its partners and other exhibitors. These solutions will do most, if not all, of what the attendees need them to do. That means lower deployment costs and a quicker return on investment—and that is what end users have been looking for in RFID all along.

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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