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University of Arkansas' New RFID Research Center Parallels Growth of RFID Industry

Officials unveiled plans for the new 20,000-square-foot space, which will include a simulated supply chain, from factory to home.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 15, 2012When the University of Arkansas' Sam M. Walton College of Business opened its RFID Research Center in 2005, the facility consisted of a 7,500-square-foot space in which researchers, RFID companies and potential end users (more than 30 businesses in total) could begin testing radio frequency identification systems under the leadership of its director, Bill Hardgrave. The center's replacement, slated to open this fall, will feature a full simulated supply chain for testing and tours.

Shortly after the RFID Research Center's launch seven years ago (see University Opens RFID Research Center), it became the first academic lab to receive Performance Test Center accreditation from EPCglobal (see EPCglobal Certifies Gen 2 Hardware). Initially, the center did not accommodate tour groups, but as the community and companies began showing more interest in the work undertaken at that site, it eventually became open to such visitors. In those cases, guests could stand in the middle of the lab and turn from one direction to another, in order to view various RFID deployment scenarios, including a conveyor occupying half of the space.

Overview of the University of Arkansas' new RFID Research Center

Click here to view a larger version of the above diagram.

The center has already begun moving into a new larger facility that will allow tour groups to pass from one station to another, viewing a simulated environment employing RFID technology from end to end, from the receiving of raw materials at a manufacturing site to the deployment of RFID readers within a consumer's home. "That's one of the biggest advantages," says Justin Patton, the research center's managing director. "It has a flow for tours."

The center's design plans were announced earlier this week, and the official unveiling included speakers representing retailers that have utilized the center, such as Mike Graen, Wal-Mart Stores' director of store innovations. The center's grand opening is scheduled for this fall. The new facility—located at 1637 Fred Hanna Drive, in Fayetteville—is situated near the former site, approximately a mile from the university's campus, and is the center's third location.

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