New developments in RF ID tags

Jim Whitehead
Mon, 20 May 2002 13:47:34 -0700,1282,52343,00.html

The Auto-ID Center is in the final stages of developing a standard way for
RFID tags to communicate. The standard could be implemented in a mass
production tag that would cost about 5 cents.

Auto-ID researchers recommend placing a 64-bit (or 96-bit, depending on the
version) number called an electronic product code (EPC) on an RFID tag. The
EPC identifies every inventoried item with a unique serial number.

Approximately 20 companies are participating in what may be the largest
scale RFID test to date, prototyping tags based on the Auto-ID Center's


The electronic product code is described in this white paper:


For over twenty-?ve years, the Universal Product Code (UPC or “bar code”)
has helped streamline retail checkout and inventory processes. As one of the
most successful standards ever developed, UPC coding and labeling methods
have grown to include numerous elements of the supply chain. The emergence
of the Internet, the digitalization of information and the globalization of
business offer new possibilities
for product identi?cation and tracking. To take advantage of this network
infrastructure, we propose a new object identi?cation scheme, the Electronic
Product Code (EPC), which uniquely identi?es objects and facilitates
tracking throughout the product life cycle. The EPC is a short, simple and
extensible code designed for ef?cient referencing to networked information.


This works in conjunction with the Physical Markup Language:

The goal of the PML is to describe the inclusion containment relationships
between objects, such as pallet contains boxes which contain TVs which
contain a screen AND electronics AND manual AND remote AND enclosure ...
This gives a way for the EPC to be related to a physical model of the world,
and as such is intellectually similar to the driving ideas of the semantic
Web. It's not clear from the paper whether PML uses RDF.

- Jim