RFID Standards Spotlighted at EPCglobal

SAP, Sun, Microsoft and HP are among the companies expected to announce new RFID initiatives, products and partnerships.

RFID standards will be an informal theme at this weeks EPCglobal show in Baltimore, if early news of new products and partnerships is any indication. Enterprise resource planning software giant SAP AG and security specialist VeriSign Inc. are among the companies expected to announce plans involving RFID standards.

SAP will unveil a new initiative with government and industry leaders to overcome RFID resistance through the formation of RFID privacy standards. Also this week, SAP is holding the first session in these discussions at its headquarters in Berlin, according to SAP representatives.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to find out more about users RFID privacy and standardization concerns.

Also at the show, multiple vendors are slated to present a demo showing how retailers and manufacturers have used EPCglobal Inc.s emerging EPC specification for storing, tracking and tracing RFID data.

So far, the EPCglobal industry group and the International Organization for Standardization have been the predominant players in RFID standards development, said John Holmes, director of port development at Science Applications International Corp. during the recent Maritime Security Expo, another RFID-related conference.

The EPCglobal group sprang from an earlier initiative called the Auto-ID Center, first forged at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Marc Osofsky, vice president of marketing and product management at OATSystems Inc., in an interview this week.

At the EPCglobal show, OAT is announcing alliances with both Hewlett-Packard Co. and major U.K. retailer Tesco plc., and is also rolling out OAT Foundation Suite 4.0, a new edition of its EPC-compliant RFID framework.

Systems integrator BearingPoint Inc. is announcing partnerships with both HP and Texas Instruments Inc.

"TI has been involved with RFID all the way from cattle identification to automobile mobilizers. Well be working with TI to better understand their roadmap and to help drive market adoption," Brian Higgins, BearingPoints director of global RFID Solutions, told eWEEK.com.

HP competitors Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are making major announcements, too. Microsoft is unveiling an RFID implementation with Jack Links Beef Jerky, a product distributor to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other large retailers.

Microsofts partners in the deployment have included ABC Computers Inc., Avery Dennison Corp., SAMSys Technologies Inc. and SATO America Inc., officials said. Microsoft had previously announced an RFID implementation with KiMS, a snack-food manufacturer in Denmark.

Suns latest announcements include a new offering for iForce partners; a retail compliance program; an RFID tool kit; and a warehouse management solution combining products and services from Sun, SIS Technologies Ltd. and SSA Global Technologies Inc.

The Gillette Co., one of the "initial eight" in the Wal-Mart trials, is a longtime RFID partner of Suns, said Vijay Sarathy, group marketing manager for Sun RFID.

/zimages/2/28571.gifSome retail competitors and product distributors have been balking over the Wal-Mart RFID mandate. To read about their objections, click here.

Security vendor VeriSign, one of the participants in EPCglobals multivendor demo, is expected to roll out new EPC network services at the show.

Acsis Inc., a specialist in data and device integration for SAP systems, will be playing up its partnerships with both VeriSign and SAP. Acsis is currently working with consumer goods and pharmaceutical manufacturers on a dozen different Wal-Mart/EPC-compliant RFID pilots, a representative said.

ThingMagic, a startup formed by five MIT Ph.D.s, is expected to announce the third version of its RFID reader. The initial version was used in the first EPC tests.

ThingMagic also unveiled an embedded edition of its reader at the Frontline Solutions show in Chicago last week.

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