Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Active RFID :For Critical Uses

(Via Infoworld)The generic term RFID refers to more than just the cheap tags that companies slap onto pallets to comply with retailers' edicts. Several types of RFID systems exist. Wal-Mart requires passive RFID tags. Ephraim Schwartz points out that the "very best" for
enterprise needs may be active RFID tags and the infrastructure that supports them
. Passive tags are not powered, so they have a range of just a few feet. A reader must "wake them up," at which point they transmit the little bit of data that they hold. Passive tags also have difficulty sending data through liquids or metal. Active tags, on the other hand, can have a range of as far as 300 feet, are battery-powered, and can either transmit constantly or be activated by an actuator. Both active and passive tags allow data to be captured and put into a database. Add business rules that relate to the tag or groups of tags, and presto! A higher-level application is created. The difference between active and passive is in the kinds of applications the enterprise can build on top of the information that each transmits.
We covered in the post how RFID will play a central role in processes both inside and across enterprises.The sheer volume of traffic generated by a pallet of lemons could be huge. – but business requires that all info be available in realtime using superior filtering mechanisms and smart pattern inference mechanisms.
Active tags shine in high-velocity, chaotic environments, - typically in situations 2,000 gate moves per day at the height of the buying season, passive tags would be useless; each truck would have to stop and get scanned. With active tags, however, the trucks roll in and out. And not only does the manager know when each container has arrived, but even in a yard hundreds of acres large, he knows exactly where everything is at all times. Active tags can also be used for security. A laptop, for example, might be tagged and associated with an employee pass card. If the two don't match as the employee goes through an exit, an alert can be triggered. A passive tag won't work in this case because there is no way of ensuring that the tag will be read as it passes the reader. Business needs to assess usage of active tags for long term benefits. Active tags may be more expensive, but they open up a whole new world of wireless possibilities

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

DHL : RFID Tags For Every Shipped Package

(Via Iweek) DHL Plans RFID Tags For Every Package It Ships -With a goal to gain tighter control of shipments, cut costs, and improve operating performance by reducing paperwork and data collection, DHL International GmbH this month starts developing a global IT infrastructure that will let it affix a radio-frequency identification tag on every package it ships by 2015. DHL's plan to tag every package it handles is a lofty one since the transportation and logistics arm of Deutsche Post World Net ships more than a billion packages a year. DHL already has identified that it needs to automate IT applications, improve connectivity with customers and regulatory agencies, and work with EPCglobal Inc. members to create common standards that can be shared throughout the logistics industry.
The company's IT group spends a lot of time supporting DHL's Object Name Service database, which stores information on shipped packages. Instead, DHL hopes to set up an infrastructure where RFID tags serve as links to information located elsewhere. DHL believes it can reduce its data-collection and reporting requirements related to U.S. Custom declarations by using RFID tags that direct the Customs department to information within databases maintained by manufacturers that ship products. DHL plans to build an automated exception reporting layer to its infrastructure, so that RFID tags will send alerts if something unexpected occurs. For example, an RFID tag will send an alert via mobile phone or E-mail to a transportation manager if a package strays from its appointed route. It is also working to expand RFID-tagging services it makes available to business customers, such as Nokia Corp. and European retailer Metro AG and its suppliers. DHL began testing RFID in 1998 and has since conducted 20 trials with passive and active technology. UPS Inc., by comparison, says it has conducted three big tests, such as using RFID to replace bar codes on packages.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

New Handheld RF Reader With OS

(Via Forbes)Symbol Technologies,announces the first radio-frequency identification reader that supports Microsoft's Windows CE. The move should reassert Symbol's market dominance in RFID and give Microsoft a foothold in the small but growing market.Symbol, which made its name as a maker of bar-code readers, has pegged its growth on RFID technology, from its acquisition of Matrics a year ago to its latest deal with the U.S. Department of Defense in the past month. Boeing is also interested in Symbol's technology. Symbol's new XR400 will be the first non-handheld reader on the market with an operating system. By providing readers with the capability to run third-party applications will encourage consumers to develop software that communicates directly with their existing enterprise resource planning systems. This can take automation to the next level.

Today, RFID implementation can be clunky. A worker scans an RFID tag, which gets fed into a custom application running on a separate machine. Eventually, the data is processed by a back-office system like an Oracle database or a SAP application, from which executives can generate reports. But Symbol's XR400 eliminates the need for the custom machine, which saves time and money. Microsoft has been actively courting RFID companies to encourage support and development for Windows. Symbol said it chose to support Windows CE instead of Palm OS because most of their partners and customers are already familiar with Windows and can quickly develop applications for the platform. Oracle and SAP already provided Windows CE interoperability and says that Symbol will encourage its partners to develop applications for the XR400, which will help seed the market for the device. Symbol counts Marquee names like Marquee Walmart, Home Depot etc as its customer. By integrating software with hardware, Symbol indicates that it's in the market for the long haul.
Pondering Primate asks whether does this mean microsoft will be able to connect to any RFID tag and directly connect to the assigned website? And foresees big things with this alliance.Google may get interested in this space and integrate this with mobile technology. Indeed a significant leap ahead.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

RFID & Mobile Technology

ITU-T has recently published a technical paper on radio frequency identification (RFID) and opportunities for its use in mobile telecommunication services. RFID enables data to be transmitted by a tiny portable device, called a tag, which is read by an RFID reader and processed according to the needs of a particular application.Many experts see RFID as an enabler for ubiquitous computing 135- the integration of computation into the environment: any device, anytime, anywhere. RFID enabled mobile phones could be a first step in this direction. The combination of mobile phones and RFID technologies promises great potential in the market for mobile telecommunication services. As in many fields of ICT, the search for the killer application has begun. Field trials in some sectors and some regions of the world have recently started. However, the development of services is far from being complete. While a broad range of services can be imagined, based on various scenarios, only attractive propositions will convince customers to adopt the technology. One has to await the implementation of mobile payment systems to see whether similar systems will prove to be attractive enough to push the new technology. A powerpoint presentation of the paper is available here
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