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The Value of an HF EPC Standard

Although GS1's ratification of a high-frequency standard did not generate a lot of buzz, it is good news for end users.
By Mark Roberti
For these reasons, some companies might opt to use HF tags on individual items, and UHF tags on pallets and cases. Since tags based on the new HF EPC standard will employ the same data structures and reader commands as the UHF standard, you could use a single reader with a UHF and HF module to communicate with both tag types.

HF tags based on the new protocol will have a transponder ID (TID), an EPC and user memory option, and a similar command set to UHF tags. If, for example, your company has developed a system for saving information in user memory regarding which store an item should be shipped to, you can employ the same system with both UHF and HF tags.

Will the additional features be enough to encourage adoption of the EPC HF standard? It's difficult to say. It will depend on whether vendors embrace and promote the standard, and on whether any large end users adopt it. My guess is that the HF standard might catch on over time as pharmaceutical manufacturers and other end users deploy UHF systems at the pallet and case levels, and then eventually replace 2-D bar codes with RFID tags at the item level.

Regardless of how quickly or slowly the standard catches on, it offers another choice for end users—and that's good news.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.


Leigh Turner 2011-10-20 06:37:33 PM
Managing Director, Invertech Mark, I agree it's good news for some end users, but the HF EPC air interface standard is unfortunately overly bloated and complex and does not properly take into account suitability for alternative embodiments using rapidly emerging next generation fully printed CMOS semiconductors to realize very low cost item level tags :-( With a little bit of foresight such highly desirous tags could have been accommodated by defining HF protocol variants better matched to the low transistor count / circuit complexity embodiment characteristic of printed semiconductors.....now an additional / different HF protocol is needed to enable these mass markets to flourish under the benefit of a global standard. A similar accommodation for simple but high performance protocols has been made in the 18000-6 revisions. Cheers, Leigh

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