EPCglobal launches work group to create Gen2 standard for high frequency bands

Expansion into high frequency starts with healthcare industry
EPCglobal Inc, a subsidiary of GS1 and a not-for-profit standards organisation entrusted with driving global adoption of Electronic Product Code (EPC) technology, today announced the formation of two new standards development working groups, with one focused on creating an EPCglobal Gen2 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 todays UHF Gen2 standard into the high frequency band. Based on the principals of EPCglobal, it is expected that the resulting standard will be adopted by other industry sectors. The UHF Working Group will be looking at developing extensions to the current Gen2 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 happy to begin work on extending the very successful EPCglobal Gen2 standard to support the healthcare industry said Chris Adcock, president of EPCglobal.  "EPCglobal is technology and frequency agnostic.  Our main objective is to ensure that we have common data structures and command sets to make it easier and less costly to implement.

Todays announcement follows successful work that has been undertaken by the EPCglobal Healthcare and Life Sciences Business Action Group (HLS BAG).  Our focus has always been on the needs of end users and helping them make business processes better, faster, less expensive and more secure using EPC, said Mike Rose, Vice President of RFID/EPC, Johnson & Johnson.  Rose is co-chair of the HLS BAG and a member of the EPCglobal Board of Governors.  High frequency performs well in certain pharmaceutical applications so it makes sense to extend the global reach of Gen2 to HF.

Last month 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 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 Gen2 standard is our clear choice as we continue to roll out RFID in our supply chain," said Wal-Mart Chief Information Officer Rollin Ford. "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 Gen2 standard and data structure to HF for those industries."

The adoption of RFID in the supply chain is of critical importance to us all said Dick Cantwell, Founding Chairman of the EPCglobal Board of Governors.  And that adoption is equally important across retail, healthcare, aerospace, logistics, apparel and other industries.

The EPCglobal UHF Gen2 protocol, a consensus standard built by more than 60 of the worlds leading technology companies, describes the core capabilities required to meet the performance needs set by the end-user community. The UHF Gen2 standard is used as a base platform upon which many standards-based products are built today.

Since its initial ratification in December 2004, the EPCglobal Gen2 standard has proven to be the cornerstone of technology development.  It has spurred development of a host of Gen2 hardware products.

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 leading solution providers around the globe.

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