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Dash7 Alliance Offers Test Methods, Tools for ISO 18000-7 Developers
By offering its own certification suite, at the same time that National Technology is selling test tools for Dash7 certification, the organization hopes to help developers properly test their own active RFID technology before taking it to Met Labs to be certified.
Jul 09, 2010—The Dash7 Alliance and Met Laboratories have taken steps to ease the way for the development of active 433 MHz RFID solutions. The Alliance is offering a free set of test methods, known as the Dash7 Certification Suite, to guide developers of ISO 18000-7-compliant technology. By September 2010, Alliance member National Instruments is slated to begin selling test tools to use with those methods. At the same time, Met Labs expects to open at least one additional test center—in Asia—to make it easier for companies on that continent to have their new ISO 18000-7 products certified.
Initiated by Savi Technology, the Dash7 Alliance has approximately 50 member organizations, including RFID vendors, end users and government agencies. The group created a forum in January of this year to certify products for interoperability with the 18000-7 (Dash7) standard, based on Savi's intellectual property (IP), says Patrick Burns, the organization's president. At its Baltimore location, Met Labs provides the certification testing that RFID developers must complete to gain Dash7 certification. Two forms of testing are performed at the labs: conformance testing for tags and readers based on the ISO 18047-7 standard (which defines test methods for determining the conformance to 18000-7), and interoperability testing using methods of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
Since that time, the Dash7 Alliance has been developing a set of test protocols that members could employ to ensure certification, says Ted Osinski, MET Laboratories' director of RFID programs. These protocols consist of conformance testing, as well as interoperability, based on the needs of the U.S. military—a major user of active 433 MHz RFID technology complying with ISO 18000-7.
Additionally, Osinski notes, National Instruments plans to release a set of test tools in September that RFID technology vendors will be able to purchase in order to follow the test methods. "By using the same test tools we'll be using [at Met Labs] and the same test protocol," he says, technology vendors will have "a very high chance of passing certification." Around the same time, he adds, Met Labs intends to open the first of many global testing centers, either in China or Korea.
Once a product passes Dash7 certification testing, it will then receive a label displaying a Dash7 Alliance logo, denoting its interoperability with the ISO 18000-7 standard. The impact of the test methods and tools, Burns says, "is not just on making certification easier. It will save millions of dollars in development fees." This, he says, will be due to the reduced need for developers to attempt certification multiple times if they fail during the first effort.
Offering the test tools as a result of the March PlugFest results, Burns says, "is a logical next step" in the further development of ISO 18000-7 RFID technology for the DOD and commercial end users. By providing the test methods along with certification, he adds, the Dash7 Alliance is offering "a more holistic approach," rather than the previous self-testing conducted by vendors. To date, he reports, around 20 technology vendors have licensed the underlying technology from Savi.
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