Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a general term that is used to describe a system that transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object wirelessly, using radio waves. RFID is evolving as a major technology enabler for tracking goods and assets around the world. A great deal of attention is being paid to RFID by the IT industry, media and analysts. According to studies by Benchmark Research, in 2004 three quarters of manufacturing companies are now aware of RFID, of which a third are already using, piloting or investigating RFID applications for their organisations.
Anticipating the potential benefits of RFID, many of the world's major retailers are trialling RFID tagging for pallets and cases shipped into and out of their distribution centres. The consequence of this RFID activity in the retail sector is likely to impact on around 200,000 manufacturers and suppliers globally, and will fuel the market for hardware and software to support RFID.
RFID has many applications outside of the retail supply chain including many familiar ones such as vehicle security, commuter tags and security badges for access control into buildings.
RFID is an area of automatic identification that is gaining momentum and is considered by some to emerge as one of the most pervasive computing technologies in history. In its simplest form, RFID is a similar concept to bar coding. It is seen as a means of enhancing data processes and is complementary to existing technologies. It is a proven technology that has been in use since the 1970s.
Amore complex description is an electromagnetic proximity identification and data transaction system. Using ''RFID tags'' on objects or assets, and ''readers'' to gather the tag information, RFID represents an improvement over bar codes in terms of non-optical proximity communication, information density, and two-way communication ability. Operational RFID systems involve tags and readers interacting with objects (assets) and database systems to provide an information and/ or operational function.
RFID is used for a wide variety of applications ranging from the familiar building access control proximity cards to supply chain tracking, toll collection, vehicle parking access control, retail stock management, ski lift access, tracking library books, theft prevention, vehicle immobiliser systems and railway rolling stock identification and movement tracking.
While RFID systems can yield great productivity gains, they also expose new threats to the security and privacy of individuals and organisations.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is one of the automatic identification or auto ID systems like bar codes, smart cards, voice recognition etc., used to help machines identify objects. This technology is often coupled with automatic data capture systems to identify objects and capture information and transfer them into computer without data entry. Naturally, the aim of these systems is to increase efficiency and reduce data entry. RFID has been around for long time with many literature published on it. This article is just a little extract of those, and hopes to give a high level overview of the RFID technology, its characteristics, its applications, and its relevance to Windows CE world.
RFID technology is not new by any means, but only recently has it garnered enough attention to be on its way to becoming an everyday concept. Similar to the computer networking technologies that were invented in the late 60's and 70's that have now become pervasive due to the widespread adoption of the internet, RFID technology is poised to become ubiquitous as the "Internet of things" (a term coined at M.I.T. to describe a network of RFID enabled objects) gains momentum. This article is intended to serve as an introduction and will hopefully enable those interested in learning about the technology to gain a basic understanding of some of the more salient points about RFID.
Like the Internet, which got its start as a DARPA research project, RFID technology is thought to have been engendered in the pursuit of improving warfare technologies. In World War II the British invented IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) in which radar signals could be used to determine which team a given fighter plane was playing for, thus avoiding friendly fire and allowing a faster reaction to the approach of deadly enemy aircraft. Identification of airplanes was one specific use of the technology, but lately the identification mechanism is being used to identify a wide variety of items, including things like consumer goods or construction machinery.
The term RFID refers to Radio Frequency Identification, a technology which uses radio waves to automatically identify items or people. Most commonly this involves the use of an RFID tag and a reader device.
Today RFID is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects.1 There are several methods of identification, the most common of which is to associate the RFID tag unique identifier with an object or person. An RFID system (Fig. 1) will typically comprise the following:
- an RFID device (tag);
- a tag reader with an antenna and transceiver; and
- a host system or connection to an enterprise system (Fig. 1).
RFID, short for Rradio Frequency IDentification, is a technology that enables identification of a tag (that is normally attached with an entity) by using electromagnetic waves. The function served by RFID is similar to bar code identification, but line of sight signals are not required for operation of RFID. Important components of an RFID system are:
- An RFID reader (also called transceiver) with an antenna and a transceiver,
- A transponder (Also called a tag) that includes an antenna and a chip)
It is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects.
- A transponder or tag consisting of a microchip and a miniature antenna. Information to be processed is written in microchip. The antenna is used to emit/receive radio signals.
- An interrogator or reader consisting of a transceiver, decoder, and antenna. The transceiver is used to receive radio signals which is decoded to byte stream by decoder. The antenna is used to emit/receive radio signals.
But what is RFID? RFID is the reading of physical tags on single products, cases, pallets, or re-usable containers that emit radio signals to be picked up by reader devices. These devices and software must be supported by a sophisticated software architecture that enables the collection and distribution of location-based information in near real time. The complete RFID picture combines the technology of the tags and readers with access to global standardized databases, ensuring real time access to up-to-date information about relevant products at any point in the supply chain. A key component to this RFID vision is the EPC Global Network.
Tags contain a unique identification number called an Electronic Product Code (EPC), and potentially additional information of interest to manufacturers, healthcare organizations, military organizations, logistics providers, and retailers, or others that need to track the physical location of goods or equipment. All information stored on RFID tags accompanies items as they travel through a supply chain or other business process. All information on RFID tags, such as product attributes, physical dimensions, prices, or laundering requirements, can be scanned wirelessly by a reader at high speed and from a distance of several meters.
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. Radio frequency waves are the invisible signals that travel through the air and the walls of our homes to bring us music and news. Radio waves can be sent at different frequencies, like the different stations on the radio.
In the U.S., the FCC has reserved some radio frequencies for uses other than commercial radio broadcasts. RFID technology is one of those uses.
RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) is a technology that allows things to be identified via radio waves. An RFID reader sends an interrogating question (e.g. "who are you?") to an RFID tag. The tag can then respond with an answer to the reader (e.g. I am product XYZ from company ABC). In this manner, similar to other sensing technologies, e.g. bar codes, RFID allows objects to be identified.
The fact that this sensing technology is based on radio waves, however, allows it some very unique features and properties. For example, radio waves can be transmitted directly through objects, which means that RFID readers don't require a line of sight to read the RFID tag like a bar code would. More importantly, the radio waves carry with them a minute electrical current that can be used to power the tags, effectively turning them into very small, special purpose, computers (technically speaking, it's an integrated circuit). It's this power that the RFID tag uses to send the response to the RFID reader, which means that for these so-called passive tags, not only are batteries not included, they're not required!
Though batteries may not be required, they can be very advantageous. Active tags are tags that have their own power sources and are capable of broadcasting information on their own. The additional power allows for more features, like longer read range, additional memory and larger storage spaces.
When a reader reads information from a tag (either active or passive) we have what is known as a read event. These events, by themselves, might not be all that interesting. But when the information on the tag is coupled with contextual information, insightful inferences can be made. For instance, if a reader is attached to the door of a storeroom and the tag passes by the reader, application logic can infer that the object to which the tag is attached has been moved into the storeroom.
Initially, much of the focus of RFID research was on the hardware and physical capabilities of the tags and readers, but lately the focus has shifted up the stack where information systems can utilize the information to the fullest.
One of the earliest papers exploring RFID is a landmark paper by Harry Stockman ''Communication by Means of Reflected Power'' published in 1948. This came on the heels of the radar and radio research undertaken during the Second World War.
There are also several technologies related to RFID, such as long range transponder systems of IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) systems for aircraft. It was, however, 30 years before technology caught up with theory, for example, the development of the integrated circuit, the microprocessor and changing business practices.
In the 1950s there was a theoretical exploration of RFID techniques with anumberof pioneering researchand scientific papers being published. In the 1960s various inventors and researchers developed prototype systems. Some commercial systems (for example, Sensormatic and Checkpoint) were launched with the electronic article surveillance (EAS) equipment used as an anti-theft device. These systems used 1-bit tags detecting the presence or absence of a tag and were used in retail stores attached to high value items and clothing. This proved an effective anti-theft measure and is arguably the first and most widespread commercial use of RFID.
In the 1970s there was a great deal of interest in RFID from researchers, developers and academic institutions including such organisations as Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and the Swedish Microwave Institute Foundation. There was much development work in this period and such applications as animal tagging became commercially viable.
In the 1980s RFID applications extended into a number of areas. In Europe animal tracking systems became widespread and toll roads in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Norway were RFID equipped.
The 1990s were significant with the widespread adoption of electronic toll collection in the United States. In 1991 an electronic tolling system opened in Oklahoma where vehicles could pass toll collection points at highway speeds (no toll booths). In Europe there was also considerable interest in RFID applications including toll collections, rail applications and access control.
RFID tolling and rail applications appeared in many countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, South Africa, Singapore and Thailand.
Developments continued in the 1990s with integrated circuit development and size reduction until microwave RFID tags were reduced to a single integrated circuit.
Currently there is considerable work being undertaken in the rationalisation of frequency spectrum allocation between countries, development of standards and the introduction of many commercial applications. There are now over 350 patents registered with the US Patent Office related to RFID and its applications
The first disturbing fact is that RFID is not a new technology. It was first used over sixty years ago by Britain to identify aircraft in World War II and was part of the refinement of radar. It was during the 1960s that RFID was first considered as a solution for the commercial world. The first commercial applications involving RFID followed during the 70s and 80s. These commercial applications were concerned with identifying some asset inside a single location. They were based on proprietary infrastructures.
The third era of RFID started in 1998, when researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Auto-ID Center began to research new ways to track and identify objects as they moved between physical locations. This research, which has a global outlook, centered on radio frequency technology and how information that is held on tags can be effectively scanned and shared with business partners in near real time.
To do this we needed standards. The work of the Auto-ID Center focused on:
- Reducing the cost of manufacturing RFID tags.
- Optimizing data networks for storing and delivering larger amounts of data.
- Developing open standards.
It became apparent that the ideas being proposed, combined with other ongoing technological and standardization activities worldwide, would help to reduce the costs of RFID tagging. By 2003, the Center had over 100 sponsors from four continents. Its final task was to conduct a large field trial with 40 participating companies in 10 US cities. Today, the work of the Auto-ID Center has helped to make RFID economically viable for pallet and carton-level tagging. The technology is also becoming more affordable for high-value items. The Auto-ID Center officially closed on October 26, 2003, transferring all its technology to EPCglobal.
EPCglobal is now leading the development of industry-driven standards for the Electronic Product Code (EPC) Network to support the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in today's fast-moving, information rich trading networks. EPCglobal is a member-driven organization composed of leading firms and industries that are focused on creating global standards for the EPCglobal Network. The EPCglobal Network is a set of technologies that enable immediate, automatic identification and sharing of information on items in the supply chain. In that way, the EPCglobal Network will make organizations more effective by enabling true visibility of information about items in the supply chain.
So, how does RFID differ from other methods of identification and data capture? A typical RFID system is made up of three components: tags, readers and the host computer system.
Tags - An RFID tag is a tiny radio device that is also referred to as a transponder, smart tag, smart label or radio barcode. The tag comprises a simple silicon microchip (typically less than half a millimetre in size) attached to a small flat aerial and mounted on a substrate. The whole device can then be encapsulated in different materials (such as plastic) dependent upon its intended usage. The finished tag can be attached to an object, typically an item, box or pallet and read remotely to ascertain its identity, position or state.
Readers - The reader, sometimes called an interrogator or scanner, sends and receives RF data to and from the tag via antennae.
A reader may have multiple antennae that are responsible for sending and receiving radio waves. The readers can be fixed or mobile, can read information stored on the tags and write information to them. This can be achieved without direct line of sight and in environments where traditional data collection could not operate. A major advantage is that information can be written to the tag multiple times so storing a history that travels with the article.
Host Computer - The data acquired by the readers is then passed to a host computer, which may run specialist RFID software or middleware to filter the data and route it to the correct application, to be processed into useful information.
RFID Technology and Architecture
Before RFID can be understood completely, it is essential to understand how Radio Frequency communication occurs.
RF (Radio Frequency) communication occurs by the transference of data over electromagnetic waves. By generating a specific electromagnetic wave at the source, its effect can be noticed at the receiver far from the source, which then identifies it and thus the information.
In an RFID system, the RFID tag which contains the tagged data of the object generates a signal containing the respective information which is read by the RFID reader, which then may pass this information to a processor for processing the obtained information for that particular application.
Thus, an RFID System can be visualized as the sum of the following three components:
- RFID tag or transponder
- RFID reader or transceiver
- Data processing subsystem
An RFID tag is composed of an antenna, a wireless transducer and an encapsulating material. These tags can be either active or passive. While the active tags have on-chip power, passive tags use the power induced by the magnetic field of the RFID reader. Thus passive tags are cheaper but with lower range (<10mts) and more sensitive to regulatory and environmental constraints, as compared to active tags.
An RFID reader consists of an antenna, transceiver and decoder, which sends periodic signals to inquire about any tag in vicinity. On receiving any signal from a tag it passes on that information to the data processor.
The data processing subsystem provides the means of processing and storing the data.
RFID systems can also be differentiated based on the frequency range it uses. The common ranges are Low-Frequency (LF: 125 - 134.2 kHz and 140 - 148.5 kHz), High-Frequency (HF: 13.56 MHz) and Ultra-High-Frequency (UHF: 868 MHz - 928 MHz).
Low-frequency systems have short reading ranges and lower system costs. They are most commonly used in security access, asset tracking, and animal identification applications. High-frequency systems, offering long read ranges (greater than 90 feet) and high reading speeds, are used for such applications as railroad car tracking and automated toll collection. However, the higher performance of high-frequency RFID systems incurs higher system costs.
A RFID tag can store up to 2000 bits of information. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, animal tracking tags inserted beneath the skin are small as pencil. Tags used to track trees or wooden items are screw shaped. Credit card shaped tags are used for security applications. A RFID tag can be further categorized as Active or Passive. Active tags are powered by internal battery and information written to it can be modified. Passive tags operate without external power and obtain operating power from the radio waves generated by the reader. Passive tags are lighter and less expensive than Active tags. Their lifetime is virtually unlimited. But they have shorter read ranges and require a high powered reader.
RFID devices fall into two broad categories: those with a power supply (a battery) and those without. An RFID device that actively transmitted to a reader is known as a transponder (TRANSmitter/resPONDER). Unpowered passive devices are known as ''tags''. More recently, common usage has described transponders as ''active tags'' and unpowered devices as ''passive tags''. Active tags are typically also read/write devices while passive tags are generally read only.
Active tags are larger and more expensive than passive tags. The use of a battery places a limit on the life of the device, although with current battery technology this may be as much as 10 years.
Passive tags have an unlimited life, are lighter, smaller and cheaper. The trade-off is limited data storage capability, a shorter read range and they require a higher-power reader.
Performance is reduced in electromagnetically ''noisy'' environments.
There are also semi-passive tags where the battery runs the chip's circuitry but the device communicates by drawing power from the reader.
Tags are available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and protective housings. Animal tracking tags, which are injected beneath the skin, are approximately 10mm long and 1 mmin diameter. Some tags are encapsulated in credit card sized packages, typically building access cards. Others are for use in harsh environments such as container tracking applications and can measure 120 _ 100 _ 50 mm. The smallest devices commercially available measure 0.4 _ 0.4 mm and are thinner than a sheet of paper.
There are primarily two types of RFID tags. One is active and the other is passive. An active tag is powered using internal battery, where a passive tag gets energized using a the power from a tag reader. A passive RFID tag will not have a battery or any kind of power source by itself. It extracts the required energy from a reader. Hence, a passive RFID tag reader must be able to emit stronger electromagnetic signals, and in return, identify very weak signals from the passive RFID tag.
RFID tags are further broken down into two categories:
- Active RFID Tags are battery powered. They broadcast a signal to the reader and can transmit over the greatest distances (100+ meters). Typically they can cost £5-£20 or more and are used to track high value goods like vehicles and large containers of goods. Shipboard containers are a good example of an active RFID tag application.
- Passive RFID Tags do not contain a battery. Instead, they draw their power from the radio wave transmitted by the reader. The reader transmits a low power radio signal through its antenna to the tag, which in turn receives it through its own antenna to power the integrated circuit (chip). The tag will briefly converse with the reader for verification and the exchange of data. As a result, passive tags can transmit information over shorter distances (typically 3 meters or less) than active tags. They have a smaller memory capacity and are considerably lower in cost (less than £1), making them ideal for tracking lower cost items.
RFID tags can be either active or passive.
Passive RFID tags do not have their own power supply: the minute electrical current induced in the antenna by the incoming radio-frequency scan provides enough power for the tag to send a response. Due to power and cost concerns, the response of a passive RFID tag is necessarily brief, typically just an ID number (GUID). Lack of its own power supply makes the device quite small: commercially available products exist that can be embedded under the skin. As of 2004, the smallest such devices commercially available measured 0.4 mm 0.4 mm, and thinner than a sheet of paper; such devices are practically invisible. Passive tags have practical read ranges that vary from about 10 mm up to about 5 metres.
Active RFID tags, on the other hand, must have a power source, and may have longer ranges and larger memories than passive tags, as well as the ability to store additional information sent by the transceiver. At present, the smallest active tags are about the size of a coin. Many active tags have practical ranges of tens of metres, and a battery life of up to several years.
As passive tags are much cheaper to manufacture and do not depend on a battery, the vast majority of RFID tags in existence are of the passive variety. As of 2004 tags cost from US$0.40. The aim is to produce tags for less than US$0.05 to make widespread RFID tagging commercially viable. However, chip manufacturers supply of integrated circuits is not sufficient and demand is too low for prices to come down soon. Analysts from independent research companies like Gartner and Forrester Research agree that a price level of less than $0.10 is only achievable in 6-8 years.
There are four different kinds of tags commonly in use. They are categorized by their radio frequency: Low frequency tags (between 125 to 134 kilohertz), High frequency tags (13.56 megahertz), UHF tags (868 to 956 megahertz), and Microwave tags (2.45 gigahertz). UHF tags cannot be used globally as there aren't any global regulations for its usage.
There are two basic types of RFID tags: Active tags and passive tags. Active tags contain miniature batteries that power the electronic circuit contained in the chip.
Passive tags carry no power of their own. Instead, they "capture" radio-frequency signals coming from the RFID reader, convert the signals into power, and then transmit the EPC code back to the reader.
Each RFID system includes at least one antenna to transmit and receive the RF signals. In some systems, a single antenna transmits and receives the signals; in other systems, one antenna transmits and one antenna receives the signals. The quantity and type of antennas used depend on the application.
- RF Tranceiver
The RF transceiver is the source of the RF energy used to activate and power the passive RFID tags. The RF transceiver may be enclosed in the same cabinet as the reader or it may be a separate piece of equipment. When provided as a separate piece of equipment, the transceiver is commonly referred to as an RF module. The RF transceiver controls and modulates the radio frequencies that the antenna transmits and receives. The transceiver filters and amplifies the backscatter signal from a passive RFID tag.
The RFID reader directs the RF transceiver to transmit RF signals, receives the encoded signal from the tag through the RF transceiver, decodes the tag's identification, and transmits the identification with any other data from the tag to the host computer. The reader may also provide other functions. For example, ETC applications include accepting data from other input devices such as a vehicle detector and controlling gate and lights. Firmware in the reader controls reader operations. The user can change or customize the reader's operations to suit a specific requirement by issuing commands through the host computer or a local terminal.
HOW RFID SYSTEMS WORK
In general terms, Radio Frequency Identification systems consist of an RFID tag (typically many tags) and an interrogator or reader. The interrogator emits a field of electromagnetic waves from an antenna, which are absorbed by the tag. The absorbed energy is used to power the tag's microchip and a signal that includes the tag identification number is sent back to the interrogator.
The operation of the RFID tag is described below:
Handshaking with the Reader (interrogator):
- The reader continuously emits RF carrier signals, and keeps observing the received RF signals for data.
- The presence of a tag (for our discussion, we consider only passive tag) modulates the rf field, and the same is detected by the reader.
- The passive tag absorbs a small portion of the energy emitted by the reader, and starts sending modulated information when sufficient energy is acquired from the rf field generated by the reader. Note that the data modulation (modulation for 0s and 1s) is accomplished by either direct modulation or FSK or Phase modulation.
- The reader demodulates the signals received from the tag antenna, and decodes the same for further processing.
- The object to be tracked is affixed with a RFID tag or transponder.
- The reader, kept at some position like entrance or door frame through which objects to be tracked pass, emits radio signals.
- When the object containing RFID tag comes within the range of radio signals emitted by the reader, the tag is activated and it starts sending the information stored in it in the form of radio signals.
- The reader captures the radio signals, decodes it to a byte stream, and sends the information for further processing to the host system connected to it.
An RFID system may consist of several components: tags, tag readers, tag programming stations, circulation readers, sorting equipment, and tag inventory wands. Security can be handled in two ways. Security gates can query the ILS to determine its security status or the tag may contain a security bit which would be turned on and off by circulation or self-check reader stations.
The purpose of an RFID system is to enable data to be transmitted by a portable device, called a tag, which is read by an RFID reader and processed according to the needs of a particular application. The data transmitted by the tag may provide identification or location information, or specifics about the product tagged, such as price, color, date of purchase, etc. The use of RFID in tracking and access applications first appeared during the 1980s. RFID quickly gained attention because of its ability to track moving objects. As the technology is refined, more pervasive - and invasive - uses for RFID tags are in the works.
In a typical RFID system, individual objects are equipped with a small, inexpensive tag which contains a transponder with a digital memory chip that is given a unique electronic product code. The interrogator, an antenna packaged with a transceiver and decoder, emits a signal activating the RFID tag so it can read and write data to it. When an RFID tag passes through the electromagnetic zone, it detects the reader's activation signal. The reader decodes the data encoded in the tag's integrated circuit (silicon chip) and the data is passed to the host computer for processing.
Security gates can then detect whether or not the item has been properly checked out of the library. When users return items, the security bit is re-set and the item record in the ILS is automatically updated. In some RFID solutions a return receipt can be generated. At this point, materials can be roughly sorted into bins by the return equipment. Inventory wands provide a finer detail of sorting. This tool can be used to put books into shelf-ready order.
- An individual Electronic Product Code (EPC) that identifies not only the type of object, but tells which specific object it is.
- An RFID tag, which is a tiny electronic circuit that holds the EPC code and other information about the object.
- A miniature antenna, made from a flat coil of wire, attached to the RFID tag. The tag and antenna are usually covered in plastic or glass.
- An RFID reader that sends radio frequency signals out to the tags and reads the signals that come back from the tags. Readers can be attached to the door frame of a warehouse, next to a conveyor belt, or incorporated into a hand-held scanner.
- Software, sometimes called "Middleware," which takes the data coming in from several RFID readers, filters it, sorts it, and sends the important information on to the main business software.
Electronic Product Code (EPC)
Electronic Product Code is the emerging RFID standard developed by the MIT AutoID center. It is the RFID version of the UPC barcode standard. Like UPC, EPC is intended to be used for specific product identification as well as case and pallet identification. However, EPC goes beyond UPC by not only identifying the item, but also providing access to additional data about the origin and history of the specific batches or serial numbers. The EPC tag itself identifies the manufacturer, product, version, and serial number.
Unsurprisingly the key difference between these solutions is the frequency at which the interrogator emits a field and at which the tags are operational. Through a combination of physical limitations and development profiles these technologies provide different functionality and benefits. For example HF tags can typically only be integrated at a distance of up to 0.8m (2.6ft) whilst UHF tags can be read up to 15m (50ft) from a reader. This said, HF tags typically use larger silicon chips, which provide greater security functionality than current UHF solutions.
Frequency allocations are generally managed through legislation and regulation by individual governments. Internationally, there are differences in frequencies allocated for RFID applications although standardisation through ISO and similar organisations is assisting in compatibility. For example, Europe uses 868 MHz for UHF and the US uses 915 MHz. Currently very few frequencies are consistently available on a global basis for RFID applications. Three frequency ranges are generally used for RFID applications (Table 2).
In general, low-frequency passive tags have an effective range of approximately 30 cm, high-frequency passive tags around 1mand UHF passive tags from 3 to 5m.Where greater range isneeded, suchas in container tracking and railway applications, active tags can boost the signal to a range of 100 m.
The lack of standardisation and the lack of harmonisation of frequency allocation are hampering growth in this industry.
There is a proliferation of incompatible standards with major RFID vendors offering proprietary systems. ANSI and ISO have been working to develop RFID standards and some have been adopted for such applications as animal tracking (ISO 11784 and 11785) and supply chain goods tracking (ISO 18000-3 and ISO 18000-6).
Several RFID standards are defined already, and several are under consideration.
Much of this research was performed by the Auto-Id labs (funded in part by SAP) on the M.I.T. campus in the late 1990's. On November 1st, 2003 this research evolved into a non-profit standards body called EPCglobal, a subsidiary of GS1, whose stated mission is to "make organizations more efficient by enabling true visibility of information about items in the supply chain." The primary means by which they intend to achieve their goal is through the standardization and promotion of RFID technology.
As mentioned in the last section, there are more layers in the RFID technology stack than just tags and readers. EPCglobal, and its constituent members, have produced and are producing standards specifications to define the interfaces between these layers. These standards include things like the format of the data on tag, the communication protocol between the tag and the reader, the translation of the read to an application event, and even how to share those events with other entities, like a business partner in a supply chain. As this is my area of expertise, I will be diving into much more detail about these standards in the future. For now it is sufficient to note that they are very important in ensuring the success of RFID, as well as the businesses that depend on them.
Standards are critical in RFID. Be it payment systems or tracking goods in open supply chains. A great deal of work has been going on to develop standards for different RFID fequencies and applications.
RFID standards deal with the following:-
- Air Interface Protocol - The way tags and readers communicate
- Data Content - Organizing of data
- Conformance - Tests that products meet the standard
- Applications - How applications are used
The way the world has gone about developing the standards is a bit complex. There are two major and somewhat conflicting organizations into the business - ISO and Auto-ID Centre (now handled by EPC Global). Without going too much into the conflict, we'll review the standards proposed by both these organizations.
Tags are required to be disposable (manufacturer may not get the tags back from the retailer to reuse it). Hence, the primary mission for any standard developer is to make the tags low cost. It should operate in UHF, as only UHF delivers read range needed for supply chain applications. And since the goods are needed to be tracked as they move across the globe, the standards must be open and globally accepted. There should also be an accompanying network architecture, which would enable anyone to look up information associated with a serial number stored on a tag. The network too needs to be based on open standards.
EPC standards for tags are the class 0 and class 1 tags:
- Class 1: a simple, passive, read-only backscatter tag with one-time, field-programmable non-volatile memory.
- Class 0: read-only tag that was programmed at the time the microchip was made
Class 1 and Class 0 have a couple of shortcomings, in addition to the fact that they are not interoperable. One issue is that they are incompatible with ISO standards. The new EPC standard ~V Gen2 is designed to be fast tracked with ISO standards but for some disagreements over the 8 bit Application Family Identifier (AFI).
ISO has developed RFID standards for automatic identification and item management. This standard, known as the ISO 18000 series, covers the air interface protocol for systems likely to be used to track goods in the supply chain. They cover the major frequencies used in RFID systems around the world.
The seven parts are:
- 18000~V1: Generic parameters for air interfaces for globally accepted frequencies
- 18000~V2: Air interface for 135 KHz
- 18000~V3: Air interface for 13.56 MHz
- 18000~V4: Air interface for 2.45 GHz
- 18000~V5: Air interface for 5.8 GHz
- 18000~V6: Air interface for 860 MHz to 930 MHz
- 18000~V7: Air interface at 433.92 MHz
Used mainly in transportation, logistics, manufacturing, processing and security, typical applications of RFID include
- Employee Identification and Access Control
- Airline baggage Identification
- Wafer Identification during manufacturing process
- Livestock Identification
- Parts Identification
- Identification and Tracking of Vehicles
- Identification of widgets through manufacturing process
- Supply Chain Automation
- Asset Tracking, and others.
Potential applications for RFID may be identified in virtually every section of industry, commerce, and services where data is to be collected. Principal areas of applications for RFID that can be currently identified include:
- Transportation and logistics
- Manufacturing and processing
A range of miscellaneous applications may also be distinguished, some of which are steadily growing in terms of numbers. They include:
- Animal tagging
- Waste management
- Time and attendance
- Postal tracking
- Airline baggage reconciliation
- Road toll management
Some of the prominent specific applications include:
- Electronic article surveillance - clothing retail outlets being typical.
- Protection of valuable equipments against theft, unauthorized removal, or asset management.
- Controlled access to vehicles, parking areas, and fuel facilities - depot facilities being typical.
- Automated toll collection for roads and bridges - since the 1980s, Electronic Road-Pricing (ERP) systems have been used in Hong Kong.
- Controlled access of personnel to secure or hazardous locations.
- Time and attendance - to replace conventional "slot card" time keeping systems.
- Animal husbandry - for identification in support of individualized feeding programmes.
- Automatic identification of tools in numerically controlled machines - to facilitate conditional monitoring of tools, for use in managing tool usage, and minimizing waste due to excessive machine tool wear.
- Identification of product variants and process control in flexible manufacturing systems.
- Sport time recording.
- Electronic monitoring of offenders at home.
- Vehicle anti-theft systems and car immobilizers.
Applications fall into two principal categories: short range applications in which the reader and tag must be in close proximity (such as in access control), and medium to long applications in which the distance may be greater (such as reading across a distribution center dock door). A sample of applications is shown here:
- Access control for people: There are many areas in which RFID tags are carried by people to allow them to gain access to facilities or services:
- Secure access to work place
- Safety access to dangerous/secure equipment
- Access to a computer or vehicle
- Access to travel on trains/buses
- Access to leisure facilities
- Secure access on site
- Road tolling
- Instant payment for fuel
- Control of flexible manufacturing processes by recognizing items being built on a production line (mass customization enabler)
- Labeling key components for later recycling
- Tracking parcels from shipment to end customer
- Tracking goods from manufacture to retail
- Supply chain management
- Stock taking
- Reducing loss through shrinkage
- Reverse logistics
- Product availability
- Plant & Equipment
- Fixed assets
- Tamper evidence
- Product authentication
Like the Internet in the early 1990's, businesses have been quick to understand the possible benefits of RFID to their bottom lines. Attaching RFID tags to the physical products that move through the supply chain allows businesses to take advantage of what SAP terms Real World Awareness. Claus Heinrich writes in his book, RFID and Beyond:
"Business-oriented Real World Awareness techniques, such as Radio Frequency IDentification, are dramatically reducing the cost of automatically and instantly acquiring accurate information about almost every aspect of a business."
By enhancing a business's IT infrastructure with the ability to sense what is actually happening in the real world, business processes can be made more efficient. For example, pharmaceutical companies can track the locations of expensive medicine very closely, reducing the loss of goods due to theft (what the industry euphemistically refers to as shrinkage), and retailers can ensure that drugs are actually coming from the manufacturer, reducing the likelihood of counterfeit medicine being injected into the supply chain, and the costly law suits that can follow.
This is just one simple example of a business process that can be made more efficient through the use of RFID technology, and there are many more. In fact, not only are business processes being improved on by RFID, but some processes will actually require RFID in the future. The pharmaceutical industry is a prime example as pedigree information that proves the identity of the manufacturer of a drug and the route it has taken through the supply chain is now being regulated ever more stringently, and RFID is currently seen as the best way to solve this problem.
There are two main area of applications, defined broadly as proximity (short range) and vicinity (long range).
Long range or vicinity applications can generally be described as track and trace applications, but the technology provides additional functionality and benefits for product authentication.
RFID enables greater automation of data collection process. Most companies spend considerable effort in knowing whats in their warehouse. RFID will help them dig deeper and much more easily, tracking to the detail of even each unit, long after it has left the factory or warehouse.
RFID allows all this data to be transferred securely. Companies use independent suppliers, data from each of them can be carried on tags and uploaded to the Company's central system.
Imagine the control that the Company will have on a product's life cycle. The creation of sucesses and defeats can be better understood. There have been numerous instances when companies had to recall the entire product due to a fault in a minor component. Imagine the costs involved in recalling a whole car for a mistake in the AC system! RFIDs can make such recalls much more focussed.
There would be better data about post production performance. A car could have individually tagged components. Data could be collected everywhere, accident sites, repair shops, even the garage.Even inside the factory, tags could enable faster and focussed fault tracing.
The Just in Time(JIT) practice followed by many companies, where components are used when they are delivered and delivered just before being needed, can lead to out of stock situations. RFID will eliminate the problem.
The eventual aim of RFID in retail and manufacturing ~W eliminate the intermediary. A perfect supply chain would require no distribution center. Products would be delivered directly from the factory to the retail center.
Some other areas where passive RFID has been applied in recent past are:
- Person Identification
- Food Production Control
- Vehicle Parking Monitoring
- Toxic Waste Monitoring
- Valuable Objects Insurance Identification
- Asset Management
- Access Control
Short range or proximity applications are typically access control applications. Some main areas are:
- Access control
- Mass transit ticketing
Applications fall into two principal categories: firstly, short range applications where the reader and tag must be in close proximity (such as in access control) and secondly, medium to long application, where the distance may be greater (such as reading across a distribution centre dock door). Examples include:
- Logistics & Tracking
- Item visibility and status
- Anti theft/tamper evidence
- Shop floor tracking
- Location tracking
- Status control
- Equipment movement
- Patient dosing
- Access control
- Animal tagging
- Car immobilisers
- Road tolls
- Electronic tickets
- Mass transit
Simple RFID readers can cost as little as US$2019 and circuits and articles have been published in electronics and enthusiasts magazines20 to enable the building of their own readers.
There are security and privacy concerns with this technology which fall broadly into the following areas:
- location privacy;
- customer information;
- corporate espionage;
- insecure operating environments;
- denial of service;
- technical attacks; and
- compromise of supporting systems.
15.1. Location privacy
Data can be extracted from tags and used to track individuals, thus violating location privacy. This is not unique to RFID systems as other systems including cell phones, many Bluetooth and other wireless enabled devices may be subject to the same privacy issue.
15.2. Customer information
Where a customer has made multiple purchases, information on buying patterns or the identification of high value items can result.
15.3. Corporate espionage
If unprotected RFID tags are used, a retailer's stock may be monitored or tracked by competitors, marketing organisations, news media, private investigators or information brokers. This can yield sales, marketing, product mix and other valuable commercial information.
15.4. Insecure environments
RFID tags often operate in hostile environments and can be subject to intense electronic or physical attacks. Examples include container tracking, supply chains and manufacturing processes.
15.5. Denial of service
Denial of service may be caused by ''flooding'' an area with RF energy, thus incapacitating the readers.
Spoofing occurs where tags are replicated from data transmitted by the tag. This is a particular risk with access control systems. It is technically feasible that attackers may alter the contents of a tag to facilitate theft, disguise the identity of the tagged item or to remove items from the premises.
15.7. Technical attacks
Because they are wireless, passive RFID tags may be susceptible to fault induction, timing attacks or power analysis attacks.21 Again all wireless devices may be susceptible to these types of attack. Lukas Grunwald, a consultant with a German technology organisation, has created a software tool, RFDump, that reads and can re-programme some RFID tags. This tool is available from the Internet.
15.8. Compromise of supporting systems
Microsoft is writing a code to accommodate RFID for its Axapta, Great Plains and Navision systems and is expected to have the software RFID-ready by the middle of next year.
SAP is embracing RFID22 and Oracle announced recently that its 10 g database and application server are able to interface with RFID data streams.23 The passive (classes 0 and 1) tags that we can expect to find in general retail use can store very little information and generally have no writable memory. They do, however, contain unique identifiers which, when linked to a supporting application or system (database), can store additional information and activity related to that item. They also store tag ''kill'' codes to deactivate tags. Clearly, and in this case, the valuable data are in the database not in the tag.
The rules on protecting the confidentiality of this information do not change when the collection mechanism changes (RFID tags and readers). The question of liability can also arise.
This applies whether the information is commercially sensitive or deals with an individual's privacy.
Supporting systems constitute the greatest risk of information compromise, but a risk, which is relatively well understood.
The benefits offered by RFID provide a compelling case for deployment within the supply chain. However, organizations must be mindful of privacy issues surrounding the technology.
Today, most RFID deployments are supply-chain applications such as tagging for shipping containers or pallets. These do not associate personally identifiable information (PII) with tag identification (EPC) numbers. But with 'item-level' tagging, unique identification numbers in EPCglobal tags might become associated with an individual at the POS when the tagged product, such as an item of clothing, is acquired.
The situation is of concern to privacy pressure groups because:
- RFID can be read through materials, items, or packaging, so consumers can never be sure when a tag is present or being scanned.
- RFID can be read at a small distance with no overt physical action required to scan the tag.
- Data collected from RFID tags can potentially be held by multiple parties, including Internet-accessible databases, causing security concerns.
- Tags can potentially remain active outside of the store environment.
To ensure that customers' concerns are addressed, retailers and other organizations must undertake initiatives to educate the public on the realities and myths of RFID. Increasingly, such initiatives will demonstrate that RFID is designed to track products and physical assets rather than people.
The kind of passive tags that will be deployed for most retail applications, for example, are only readable from a few meters, ensuring that customers cannot be tracked once they exit the store.
Tags can also be disabled as they leave the store, or placed inside labels that customers can remove from products once they have purchased them.
In addition, it is imperative that all customer-facing RFID-enabled solutions are optional. That means customers must always give their permission before data about them is used.
As the spread of RFID increases, so do some of the concerns about the technology. One of the first practical applications of RFID technology was tracking animals, and the leap from animals to humans (humans ARE in fact animals) isn't a hard one to make. This is one of the reasons that privacy advocates have been wary of the technology since the beginning. Fortunately for us, corporate interests in RFID tags lie in the ability to allow companies to track items more effectively through the supply chain and much less interested in invading the privacy of their customers. EPCglobal and its member companies understand that in order for RFID to take off in the way that they need it to, they need to address the privacy concerns of the end user. It is for that reason that the Gen 2 specification has a built in kill switch so that customers, if they so desire, can permanently disable RFID tags and eliminate any fear that the tag is being tracked.
Another RFID security aspect that I plan to discuss in more detail is that of the recent RFID virus scare. While the student who reported to have created an RFID virus succeeded in her goal of raising awareness about RFID security (an admirable goal, to be sure), my research indicates that her virus was contrived enough that it shouldn't have received nearly the press that it did. For example, after checking with SAP's lead software architect of our AII product, the virus described in the paper could never infect an SAP system.
Through RFID In the near future, every single object will be connected to the Internet through a wireless address and unique identifier, was quipped by the global head of life science and consumer product industries at Sun Microsystems Inc.
Certainly feels impressive, and let me just help your imagination by setting a perfect scenario.
You are sitting at your home watching television on a Sunday afternoon, and you know that your television is connected to the internet. Your couch, table even your dining set is connected to the internet. That is great for the automation!? Now, imagine your shirt, jeans, even your undergarments connected to the internet! It is only a futuristic setup, but the privacy implications of RFID are equivalent in any application of RFID.
The basic privacy concerns associated with an RFID system is the ability of ubiquitous tracking of anybody without consent. And with RFID tags getting smaller and smaller, it is now even possible to hide tags in such a way that the consumer may be unaware of the presence of tags.
For example, the tags may be sewn up within garment, or molded within plastic or rubber. To the extent that researchers have already developed tiny coded beads invisible to human eye that can be embedded in inks to tag currency and other documents, or added to substances like automobile paint, explosives, or other products that law enforcement officers or retailers have a strong interest in tracking. Researchers say that the technology should be ready for commercial use in 3-6 years.
In summary we can note the following ways in which RFIDs can be used to bypass personal privacy:
- By placing RFID tags hidden from eyes, and using it for stealth tracking.
- Using the unique identifiers provided by RFID for profiling and identifying consumer pattern and behavior.
- Using hidden readers for stealth tracking and getting personal information.
With all these privacy concerns, there is bound to be some effort to thwart such attempt at privacy and maintain the popularity of RFIDs. Researches at various places have yielded the following methods of avoiding above-mentioned attacks.
- RSA Blocker Tags: These tags are similar in size and appearance to RFID tags, helps in maintaining the privacy of consumer by ~Sspamming~T any reader that attempts to scan tags without the right authorization, thus confusing the reader to believe that there are many tags in its proximity.
- Kill Switches: Newer RFID tags are being shipped with a ~SKill Switch~T, which will allow the RFID tags to be disabled. Thus a consumer will be given an option of disabling the RFID tag before leaving the store, thus avoiding the possibility of stealth tracking and profiling.
The principal advantages of RFID system are the non-contact, non-line-of-sight characteristics of the technology. Tags can be read through a variety of visually and environmentally challenging conditions such as snow, ice, fog, paint, grime, inside containers and vehicles and while in storage.
With a response time of less than 100 ms, an RFID reader canreadmany (severalhundred) tags virtually instantaneously.
Tags coupled with sensors can provide important information on the state of the goods. For example, refrigerated goods can be monitored for temperature, problem areas identified and alarms raised.
The following are the benefits of RFID Systems:
- Non-line of sight identification of tags
- Unattended operations are possible, minimizing human errors and high cost.
- Ability to identify moving elements that have tags embedded.
- Larger area of coverage. Up to several feet.
- Can be used in diverse environments, including live stock, military, and scientific areas.
- RFID can be used in addition to Bar Code. These two technologies can be complementing each other.
- Automatic integration with back end software solutions provide end to end integration of data in real time.
Why use RFID when barcodes are cheaper and easier to use? Barcodes have certain drawbacks. They can get torn off or ruined by water; and a person must find the barcode on the item before it can be scanned. --anyone who has stood in a long checkout line knows how annoying that can be.
With RFID technology, the radio waves can pass through objects, so you don't need to see the tag to read it. This makes it possible for a fixed reader to automatically read tags as the object passes through a warehouse door, for example. That way, you need less human intervention, which reduces costs.
Also, because the tags are embedded in plastic or even inside the object itself, they are much less susceptible to water damage or tearing.
One benefit of using a specific EPC code for each individual item is that it makes it easier to recall specific items, such a group of tires that may malfunction, or a group of toys made with unsafe paint.
Supply chain management is investing in RFID as it can give them advantages in visibility of their products through the supply chain. The benefits are seen as improving on other methods of visibility such as EDI, bar coding and Advance Ship Notifications (ASN). Other benefits of RFID can be seen outside of normal supply chain such as a reduction in theft from the store, transport or storage, and a deterrent to increasing product counterfeiting. Both of these issues are costing companies billions of dollars each year. Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly worried about counterfeiting and RFID tags on each product may help with this issue.
RFID VS BAR CODES and others
RFID evolved as an attempt to provide a better alternative to bar code labels used extensively in products tracking. RFID thus has many inherent advantages over barcodes.
Radio contact as required in RFID does away with the need of direct line of sight as required in bar codes. Moreover, with the capabilities of both read/write over the conventional read only, and the ability to store data and place RFID tags inside packing or embedding within products provides usage of RFID with many unique advantages.
Given these advantages the question may arise why then RFID tags are not ubiquitous despite Wal Mart~Rs mandate that its top 100 suppliers should put radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on all pallets and cases they ship to its distribution centers and stores.
The answer lies partly in the hue and cry surrounding the privacy issues related to the RFID and partly in the high cost of RFID tags as compared to bar code labels. But with efforts already on to counter the privacy threats and to reduce the cost of RFID tags, it should not be long when we will see RFID starts displacing bar en masse.
Unlike barcodes, RFID technology does not require line of sight reading. The tag can be read through other items while barcodes require line of sight. This implies that a RFID reader could read a pallet of mixed products, all of which contain individual RFID tags, without having to physically move any of the items or open any cases. If the pallet was full of mixed items, the large number of RFID tags can be read almost instantaneously. The tags are not read simultaneously but the tags are read sequentially, but the time to read the tags would be microseconds.
The data on tag can be changed or added to as it passes through specific operations. Read-only tags are less expensive than read/write tags. RFID tags are less susceptible to poor environmental conditions where barcode labels can become unreadable. RFID tags can be sealed within a plastic enclosure eliminating many of the problems that affect barcodes in harsh environments where they are exposed to chemicals, heat and other harsh environments.
RFID technologies are grouped under the more generic Automatic Identification (Auto-ID) technologies. Examples of other Auto-ID technologies include Smartcards and Barcodes. RFID is often positioned as next generation barcoding because of its obvious advantages over barcodes. However, in many environments it is likely to co-exist with the barcode for a long time. The barcode labels that triggered a revolution in identification systems back in the 1970's are now cheap and commonly used, but have several limitations:
- low storage capacity
- they only represent a family of items and not an individual or unique item
- durability (as mostly printed paper)
- low read range
- they can only be read when line of sight is established
- they can only be read one at a time
- they cannot be written to or reprogrammed
Rather than using light to collect or read a number from a bar code, radio waves are used to read a number from the RFID tag. RFID therefore does not need line-of-sight to operate. Using radio means that the tag no longer has to be visible on the object to which it is attached; the tag can be hidden inside the item or box that is to be identified and still be read. This minimises or eliminates the need for a person to have to present the reader to the tag as it can now be fixed to a wall for example. As the item is passed by the reader it will be read automatically, thus giving a potentially large saving in labour costs or substantial increase in throughput of scanned items.
Another feature of RFID is the ability to read many tags together at once. It is not necessary to present each tag to the reader separately (as is required for barcodes), instead all tags within the range of the reader can be read almost simultaneously as they pass the reader. Again, there is a huge savings potential in not having to manually present the reader to each item to be identified.
RFID technology can offer many benefits over more traditional approaches. Specific benefits are dependent on the type of RFID technology that is used and the application of the technology. Some benefits that may be recognized in utilizing RFID are:
- Faster read rates
- None line of sight reading
- Multiple tag reads
- Programmable and re-programmable tags
- Enhanced security functionality
- Expensive compared with Bar code
- Bulkier, due to embedding of electronic components in the tag. However, with advanced techniques, it is possible to reduce the size, and weight of the tags to a large extent.
- Prone to physical/electrical damage due to environmental conditions. For example, tags that are subjected to space exploration may encounter extreme temperatures. The tags required to be designed for a given application, and may be costly when designed for use under extreme environmental conditions.
For all the applications of RFID, no standardization has been done as of now. All major RFID vendors offer proprietary systems not compatible with each other. Another drawback is the cost. RFID Readers and tags are fairly expensive. There is also the collision of signal from one reader with signal of another reader which is called Reader collision. Like Reader collision, there can also be Tag collision in which more than one tag reflects back the signal of the reader at the same time, confusing the reader.
FUTURE OF RFID
Some people worry that RFID technology will reduce our privacy, because the tags can be tracked almost anywhere, even after the goods leave the store. Others say that the tags are not completely secure, and can be read by hackers for unauthorized uses.
But many companies and governments are counting on RFID technology to make life cheaper, safer and more convenient.
RFID tags are already used for SmartCards, which make it easier to travel on toll roads. They are keeping track of cattle in France, and household pets here in the U.S. For humans, RFID tags implanted under the skin or carried in ID cards could provide important medical information, in case of emergency.
Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense, two of the largest buyers in the U.S., have begun requiring their suppliers to use RFID tags on the pallets and cartons they ship. They hope to save millions of dollars, while increasing the convenience and availability of products for their customers.
The "Smart" Store of the Future?
Each item labeled with an RFID tag would be scanned as you put it into your "smart cart." Meanwhile, "smart shelves" will signal the store what needs to be restocked. When you are finished shopping you merely walk out of the store, your total cost calculated automatically and your bank charged the correct amount.
At home, you load the perishables into your "smart refrigerator," which reads each product's rfid tag, and makes note of expiration dates. Later that week, an item you bought is recalled by the manufacturer, due to food poisoning found in that specific batch and connected to you through the 's EPC code. You are immediately notified by e-mail.
In this post we have gone through the basic overview of RFID and touched on some of the more poignant points about the technology and why it is important. RFID adoption continues to spread like wild fire and will soon be pervasive, ultimately impacting each and every one of us in ways we can only imagine. Much like the Internet has revolutionized our lives and the way we interact with each other, I believe RFID will have a significant impact on our daily lives and the way that we interact with the world around us.
In the RFID standardization front, the good news is that International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is working on standards for tracking goods in the supply chain. EPCglobal, a joint venture setup to commercialize Electronic Product Code technologies, has its own standards process, which was used to create bar code standards. EPCglobal intends to submit EPC protocols to ISO so that they can become international standards. So let's keep our fingers crossed :).
RFID offers new levels of visibility for companies that want to track physical items between locations. In the retail supply chain, goods tagged at the point of manufacture can now be traced from the factory to the shop floor, providing a real time view of inventory for all supply chain partners.
Awareness of RFID technology and the benefits it delivers is increasing across the industry. By playing a key role in developing the infrastructure required for RFID, Microsoft is contributing to the momentum of mass deployment.
The fully-integrated Microsoft architecture for RFID embraces a vision for increased operational efficiency and reduced costs. It enables the exchange of RFID-related data in near real time across disparate systems and corporate boundaries. It also supports standards for global data synchronization and interoperability with EPC, which is a prerequisite for global adoption of RFID.
Microsoft is playing a leadership role in RFID, data alignment, and traceability through participation in a number of industry initiatives and involvement in the development of standards for RFID. Our RFID Council is also contributing to the development of the technology by helping organizations track items more effectively.
Through a network of world-class partners, including ISVs, hardware vendors, and systems integrators, Microsoft is delivering RFID solutions that add value to businesses and enable fast returns on technology investments.