With the discussion around RFID moving past the initial stages of compliance—for a few suppliers, at least—some of the bigger software and hardware vendors are looking for more of a presence in the industry.
Siemens Corp., for example, is looking to close two gaps in its radio-frequency identification middleware, software, hardware and services offerings with new technology. At the same time, iAnywhere Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of Sybase Inc., announced this week a new middleware platform for developing and deploying RFID applications.
Siemens, the U.S. division of Siemens AG, is planning under its 2005 RFID road map to release a 900MHz-enabled tag and a reader that comply with EPCglobal Inc.s Gen 2 tag standard. The reader, in beta now with about a dozen customers, will close a hole in Siemens RFID offerings, according to Joe Dunlap, senior business development manager for RFID at Siemens.
At the same time, the New York company will look to RFID-enable two major application suites, Warehouse Control System and Material Flow Control System, with intuitive process-oriented capabilities.
"Its one thing to have RFID middleware that can pass data," said Dunlap. "The real value is in having process automation."
For example, when a forklift driver using Siemens WHM system picks up a pallet and scans it, the system tells him where to take the pallet. If the driver puts the pallet in the wrong location, there are currently no checks and balances to correct the situation. Siemens is working to provide process changes on the fly.
"If [the pallet] is put in the wrong location, the driver will be prompted with a beep," said Dunlap. "If he doesnt correct the error in a certain time, hes locked out of the next task. Or if he still doesnt correct, the system notifies the supervisor. That type of real process change doesnt really exist yet, and thats what were driving toward."
By 2008, Siemens is looking to replace silicon RFID tags with polymer tags, a move that will lower the price of tags to below the 5-cent mark that is necessary to make RFID a standard technology, creating an actual business case for suppliers, Dunlap said.
Separately, Dublin, Calif.-based iAnywheres platform enables developers to integrate RFID applications with existing software and processes on one end, and it manages RFID data collection and control devices on the other end.
The RFID Anywhere platform, which operates as a hosted network service, supports a number of standards and protocols, including EPC Reader Protocol 1.0. The platforms Connectors and Controllers manage the interfaces with RFID components, such as readers and printers, upgrading interfaces as standards and specifications emerge. At the same time, a Network Simulator assesses the impact of data loads and content on networks and applications.
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