In which ways will RFID and/or EPCglobal induce innovation in business processes or the way software has to be made?
Di Yeso: The EPCglobal standards development process begins with the active participation of those that will use the EPCglobal Network. The Business Action Group (BAG) provides the venue and structure for End Users to develop and communicate their real world business requirements so the Hardware (HAG) and Software Action Groups (SAG) can work to develop the technical specifications of the EPCglobal Network.
Is the Class 1 Gen 2 standard on track to be complete by autumn? And is the working draft for its next-generation EPC tag design on track to be published this summer?
Di Yeso: When ratified this fall, products built to the EPCglobal UHF Gen 2 standard will have expanded capabilities and functionality over earlier standardized products, such as faster read rates for EPC tags and broader frequency ranges for global usage, among others. The UHF Gen 2 standard also will complement initial investments in other EPCglobal Class 0 and Class 1 standards-based equipment. The development of the UHF Gen 2 specification is part of the ongoing standards development process and commercialization of EPC technologies. The ratification of the UHF Gen 2 standard this fall is expected to accelerate the creation, adoption and implementation of even more standards-based EPC products to comply with industry mandates.
Could you detail the group’s progress on winning support for its intellectual property agreement among members that make and sell RFID-related hardware and software?
Di Yeso: As a user-driven organization, EPCglobal works with retailers, manufacturers, and hardware, software, and integration solutions providers to create and share intellectual property that will benefit the entire subscriber base. We have developed an intellectual property policy that allows subscribers to build and share valuable IP freely to the benefit of all industry. To date, more than 100 companies have signed this agreement and support continues to steadily grow.
EPCglobal is committed to open use of the EPCglobal Network and has adopted policies that encourage such use while protecting network integrity. The EPCglobal Intellectual Property (IP) Policy ensures that all companies subscribing to the organization have open, neutral access to EPCglobal Network technology and standards. The agreement guarantees that the technology remains non-proprietary for the benefit of industry as a whole. Subscribers must sign the IP Policy and return it to either their Affiliate Subscriber Service group or main office to participate in the Hardware Action Group (HAG) and Software Action Group (SAG) – committees involved in the technical development of the EPCglobal Network.
Could you elaborate on EPCglobal’s relationship to the Auto-ID Center at MIT? And what happens after October 31 when the administrative functions of the Auto-ID Center officially end?
Di Yeso: The administrative functions of the center will officially end and the research functions will evolve into Auto-ID Labs. We will continue to work very closely with Auto-ID Labs to refine the technology and meet needs identified in the future. EPCglobal will continue to work with Auto-ID Labs through its own technical committees and actions group to maintain a dialogue between researchers and end users.
Would you talk about the benefits of the Electronic Product Code (EPC) and how the EPC Network functions?
Di Yeso: The ECP is a unique number which identifies a specific item in the supply chain. The EPC is stored on a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, which combines a silicon chip and an antenna. Once the EPC is retrieved from the tag, it can be associated with dynamic data such as where an item originated or the date of its production. Much like a Global Trade Item Number or Vehicle Identification Number, the EPC is the key that unlocks the power of the information systems that are part of the EPC network.
What is being done about certification and interoperability?
Di Yeso: We are committed to providing comprehensive implementation support, including certification and interoperability for the EPC Network. We intend to develop and maintain global technology and application standards, education and training and certification and compliance programs, all from a multi-industry, global perspective.
A public policy committee was formed in March to examine how to balance privacy concerns with industry practices. What is the status of their work?
Di Yeso: The EPC Public Policy Steering Committee is a newly-formed group composed of members from industry trade associations, consumer products companies, retailers and standards organizations that share the common vision of commercializing EPC technologies and the EPCglobal Network in a responsible manner. The International Public Policy Advisory Council, created by the Auto-ID Center at M.I.T., was focused on the creation and development of public policies. With those policies now in place, the EPC Public Policy Steering Committee will now focus on implementation support and education of key constituencies. The committee is broadly focused on supporting the responsible deployment and commercialization of EPC technologies. Specifically, the committee works with industry on important public policy issues and on educating key constituencies on the benefits of EPC technologies to consumers and industry alike.
Could you provide some examples of products built to EPCglobal standards that are available today?
Di Yeso: Currently, more than 20 vendors worldwide are providing RFID hardware (tags and readers) based on the Version 1.0 EPCglobal air interface protocol standards. There are also several software vendors who are making use of the Version 1.0 software standards for ONS and the middleware layer to enhance their current products for supply chain information management.
Why form a new organization over implementation of the EPC Network?
Di Yeso: Once EPC technology was developed in an academic setting, it was always the intention to commercialize it through an experienced standards-making body. The UCC and EAN were chosen as the implementation partner because of many years of experience in administering global standards.
When will EPCglobal provide its subscribers with access to equipment interoperability tests and what is the timeframe to offer other compliance services?
Di Yeso: EPCglobal has launched an interoperability testing program for RFID hardware, which had its first Phase I event. This was an opportunity for vendors to determine how they work together and for EPCglobal to beta test the interoperability test plan. Phase II, the next step, took place at the end of July and resulted in a matrix of what vendor products work together.