Myth 3

By Larry Dignan  |  Posted 2004-02-09 Print this article Print

: Easy Standards"> MYTH 3: Setting Standards Will Be Easy
One of the big reasons Pople is less-than-enthusiastic about these systems is the lack of standards. "Id have to wait and see what shakes out," he says. "Standardization has to happen first." Indeed, the tags advocated by Wal-Mart dont have draft specifications yet. EPCglobal, the organization developing standards, is currently working on a draft. Sue Hutchinson, product manager for EPCglobal, is confident that standards will emerge in time for suppliers to meet the Wal-Mart and DoD mandates. "Ive been encouraged that two seemingly different camps"—Wal-Mart and the DoD—"are collaborating," she says. The goal is to have Wal-Mart and the DoD use the same data-formatting and tag specifications for suppliers that send goods to both parties. Without such a standard, Procter & Gamble would have to tag cases of Charmin headed to Wal-Mart differently than those destined for the military.
Once a base standard is agreed on, the DoD is likely to have additional requirements to track items such as Tomahawk missiles. The Defense Department is planning an RFID Summit this month to set expectations for suppliers.
Theres not a lot of precedent for public and private cooperation on setting early standards for a new technology. Hutchinson notes, however, that over the last eighteen months the DoD has seen that adopting corporate standards can improve the economics. Hutchinson also says the DoD is working with EPCglobal to set military-only RFID standards that would require encryption and heightened security features. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at for security news, views and analysis. Despite that progress, there are some doubts about whether a uniform standard can be forged to satisfy both public and private needs. "Id still say its unlikely that therell be one standard," says John Pulling, chief operating officer for Provia Software, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based supply-chain software company. "You may have the same basic tag and antenna, but other configurations will be different." Next Page: Myth 4, read rate is 100 percent.

Business Editor
Larry formerly served as the East Coast news editor and Finance Editor at CNET Prior to that, he was editor of Ziff Davis Inter@ctive Investor, which was, according to Barron's, a Top-10 financial site in the late 1990s. Larry has covered the technology and financial services industry since 1995, publishing articles in, Inter@ctive Week, The New York Times, and Financial Planning magazine. He's a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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