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HP Canada Partners With Universities to Create RFID Labs

The joint effort, participants say, helps all involved parties conduct RFID pilots, carry out research and better serve the needs of industrial companies and other end users.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 02, 2007HP Canada's RFID Customer Experience Center, located at the company's headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario, attracts several hundred HP customers annually. These customers come to see RFID in action and get ideas for their own potential deployment. Built in 2004, the lab has been expanded twice—first in 2005, then in 2007. "Essentially," says the company's chief technology officer, Victor Garcia, "it's a place to test new applications, see how RFID performs with different products."

Last week, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Polytechnic celebrated the opening of its own lab, based on HP Canada's RFID Customer Experience Center. SAIT Polytechnic says it intends to use the RFID Applications Development (RAD) Laboratory—under the umbrella of the school's Center for Innovative IT Solutions (CIITS)—to conduct pilots and applied research related to RFID use in the region's industries and nationwide. HP Canada plans to provide its own consultants to assist in that research. "We have been the first country within HP to establish a close relationship with academia," Garcia says, "and leverage their interest in the technology with our commercial experience."

Alex Zahavich
The RAD Lab incorporates RFID interrogators and antennas from Motorola, Intermec, Intelleflex and Allflex; as well as low-frequency (LF), high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, including passive, battery-assisted passive and active. It also uses Microsoft BizTalk server 2006 R2, BEA's Edge Server, HP OpenView and other applications software to provide an interface between the MS SQL server and the RFID hardware.

"At our grand opening, BizTalk was used as an automated greeting as people walked past an antenna," says Alex Zahavich, director of applied research and innovation services at SAIT Polytechnic, who oversees the RAD Lab. "We imbedded RFID tags in the name tags for our guests." The readers captured the unique ID number on those name tags, after which BizTalk associated every number with a name and greeted each guest individually.

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