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Pramari Launches Free Open-Source RFID Middleware

The Rifidi Edge Server can manage EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogators and RFID reader data, as well as information from bar-code scanners, sensors and other hardware.
By Claire Swedberg
"We're now making the jump into middleware," Govin says, by introducing a middleware platform using a custom-built rules engine. What Pramari developed, Pause indicates, is an open-source platform that can be downloaded and used by anyone, to filter and interpret data from most RFID readers using most operating systems.

"Our goal with Rifidi," Govin explains, "was to build a comprehensive RFID platform that can join together RFID and non-RFID devices, and easily create business events from them. By building on an open platform, we are encouraging anyone to build any type of solution, and we will provide the tools and stable platform to make this happen."

Brian Pause, Pramari's product development VP
Companies wishing to deploy an inexpensive RFID system can purchase RFID hardware, then download Rifidi Edge Server at no cost. The middleware operates on any computer running the Windows 7, XP or Vista, or Linux Ubuntu operating systems. Users can tailor the software to their particular needs by writing extensions and plug-ins to it. They are also encouraged to participate in an open-source community, to share information regarding deployments.

Rifidi Edge Server enables a user to control the configuration of EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogators, as well as collect and filter data received from those readers. Based on the OSGi and Java programming platforms, the Edge Server middleware has been tested with up to four RFID interrogators (though Pause says it could accommodate more than four), receiving reads at a rate of up to 1,000 tags per second. The box operates with any low-level reader protocol (LLRP) standard-compliant readers, including those manufactured by AWID, Alien Technology, ThingMagic and Motorola, such as the MC9090 handheld.

Users can download demo applications from Rifidi that illustrate how Edge Server works. They can also log onto the company's Web site to access an open community, in order to share information about how they utilize the system, as well as any issues they may have had—and solutions to those problems. Some of the information available to all users includes forums, blogs, wikis and documentation on how to use Rifidi Edge Server. In the future, there will also be a link to open forums shared by other technology providers. "We want people to build vertical solutions on top of our platform," Pause says, and to share the results with other end users who might wish to follow that model.

"Deployments are expensive," Pause states, and while hardware costs have been dropping, software costs have not. In this case, users can build their own business rules on the Rifidi Edge Server platform, such as setting up the system to send alerts if a tag is not read when expected.

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