EPCglobal Inc., a standards organization driving global adoption of Electronic Product Code (EPC) technology, has formed two standards development working groups, with one focused on creating an EPCglobal Generation 2 standard for high frequency (HF) bands for healthcare applications.
The two new working groups being formed are the HF Air Interface Working Group and the UHF Air Interface Working Group. The HF Working Group will focus on extending the logic and technology that is part of today’s UHF Gen 2 standard into the high frequency band. The UHF Working Group will be looking at developing extensions to the current Gen 2 UHF protocol to add security features that are needed for item-level tagging. Both working groups will be operating in the context of the requirements and scenarios developed by the item-level tagging joint requirements group.
“EPCglobal is technology and frequency neutral,” notes Chris Adcock, president of EPCglobal. “Our main objective is to ensure that we have common data structures and command sets to make it easier and less costly to implement.”
"High frequency performs well in certain pharmaceutical applications so it makes sense to extend the global reach of Gen 2 to HF,” explains Mike Rose, vice president of RFID/EPC with Johnson & Johnson.
In April 2006 EPCglobal hosted a technology demonstration for a broad cross-section of end users and technology providers from retail, healthcare and other industries to review a variety of radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies and how they perform in an item-level tagging environment. The event included 56 demonstrations and 23 hardware vendors using a range of frequencies and technologies in response to user driven requirements. The demonstration revealed that many different technologies and frequencies have the potential to be used for item-level tagging.
“The EPCglobal UHF Gen 2 standard is our clear choice as we continue to roll out RFID in our supply chain,” says Rollin Ford, chief information officer with retail giant Wal-Mart. “UHF is the best technology for Wal-Mart at this time. Obviously using one standard will deliver the lowest cost solution for all industries; however if the technical performance and economics support the HF frequency for other industries, then we would support the extension of the EPCglobal Gen 2 standard and data structure to HF for those industries.”
The EPCglobal UHF Generation 2 protocol, a consensus standard built by more than 60 of the world’s leading technology companies, describes the core capabilities required to meet the performance needs set by the end-user community. The UHF Gen 2 standard is used as a base platform upon which many standards-based products are built today.
An EPCglobal standard ensures interoperability and sets minimum operational expectations for various components in the EPCglobal Network, including hardware components. While EPCglobal oversees interoperability and conformance testing of standards-based products, the actual development of these products comes from the solution providers.