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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
The system is planned for trials at medical centers and boutique retailers, Pause says, and development partners include the University of Arkansas, which helped test the reader adaptor software that allows the middleware to receive data from interrogators. Pramari has since hired several of the university's students as paid interns or technical leads for the Edge Server development. According to Pause, Penn State University tested Rifidi Edge Server with Alien readers, and is now using the software in its own laboratory for student training. Additionally, he says, Rutgers University students are trialing the middleware in conjunction with the RFID systems it provides to local businesses for testing.

AWID is partnering with Rifidi to offer its readers with the EdgeBox at a low cost. "We're a hardware-only company," says Bill Arnold, AWID's director of strategic sales, "but as the market has been expanding into everyday practice, we're finding more users who don't want to shop a lot of companies to make their system work. So it started to make a lot of sense to offer the Rifidi middleware to our customers."

Prasith Govin, Pramari's CTO
Many of AWID's customers, Arnold says, are security integrators that install and program physical security systems for businesses. These integrators are often asked to provide an RFID asset-tracking system to a client's existing security system, such as a video camera network. The security integrators would provide them with both the hardware and software in a single, easy-to-install package, which would include AWID readers and Rifidi middleware to connect interrogators and other security technology. AWID's core company strategy, Arnold says, is to keep hardware costs low—and by partnering with Rifidi, the firm can offer a low-cost complete solution.

Tag reseller RFID TagSource has worked with Pramari for the past two years, Pause says, providing input from an end-user's perspective—based on what TagSource's customers tell it—regarding the Edge Server product. TagSource plans to offer the system to its RFID tag customers as a middleware option.

"The open-source model has been widely adopted by enterprise IT organizations," says Kevin Donahue, RFID TagSource's managing director. As open-source middleware supported by a broader open-source community (such as blogs and wikis), Rifidi Edge Server, he says, "demystifies the technology and should really drive adoption across the industry."

Pramari has also been working closely with General Electric Research and Development Center, a potential customer, in using the Rifidi platform (consisting of the middleware and the EdgeBox) to present and prototype RFID business solutions. Ultimately, Pause notes, the same prototyping platform used to demonstrate an RFID system's value can be employed to run GE's RFID business in production as middleware. Since General Electric is a multi-business growth company, he adds, the reuse of the same RFID platform across business lines adds value to the company by simplifying RFID projects and reducing costs.

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