To read the press releases from companies touting RFID solutions
utilizing the Gen II specification, one might think new products are
about to hit distributor's shelves.
In reality, a great deal of progress has been made but thereés still
a lot of work to be done before Gen II products will be ready for
In all likelihood, interoperable solutions in production quantities
and qualities will be available in Q III, with several vendors
citing Q IV as a more likely timetable.
Thatés the consensus of industry leaders contacted by RFID Alert,
éMost companies are targeting the third quarter of this year for
production units,é says Tony Sabetti, retail supply chain director
for RFID systems, Texas Instruments. éThatés when customers can
expect to have product that would be production ready.é
Once chips are available in production quantities, printer and
reader providers can finalize the specifications on their products
and have them certified for interoperability.
The chipmakers say they are sharing software and emulators now so
that hardware manufacturers can jump start testing on their
equipment. Once production examples are available later this summer,
EPCglobal US will launch a formal Gen II interoperability
Finally, companies already using printers and readers from vendors
like Symbol, Intermec, Alien, Zebra, Printronix and others will need
to upgrade their equipment to work with the new specs. Whether that
can be done with a firmware or software upgrade or will require a
module replacement will probably depend on when the equipment was
For instance, printers purchased from Zebra since the end of
December 2004 were designed with a multi-protocol platform that will
accept a firmware upgrade, according to Matt Ream, Zebraés senior
manager for RFID systems. On the other hand, printers released
earlier in 2004 will require a module swap.
As to the cost of the new Gen II tags, Philips Semiconductors says
it expects to price its chips at 10 cents each for low volumes and 5
cents each for quantities of 2 billion. Chips then have to be turned
into tags that can be applied to cartons and pallets at an
When Gen II products will be available may not be the most important
factor, according to Tom Pound, vice president of corporate
development and product strategy for Alien Technology.
Pound suggests users watch for two more important milestones. The
first is the Gen II permitted date. Thatés the date when Wal-Mart,
Target and the Department of Defense formally accept Gen II tags in
their supply chains.
After that will be the Gen II mandatory date, which Pound estimates
will follow the permitted date by 12 to 18 months.
Using those dates, end users are likely to have until late 2007
before they have to shift to the new specification.
éThere will be a lot of excitement about getting Gen II going,é says
Pound. éBut there will still be a transition involved in finding
whether it meets a userés performance requirements, whether it works
with their products and whether it meets their economics.é
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Articles en franéais:
2005 sera l'année des tests et
des pilotes pour la RFID en Europe
L'essor devrait s'accentuer en 2005
du fait de la création, en fin d'année derniére, du nouveau
standard de communication RFID, EPC Generation 2, unifiant les
différentes technologies existantes (lire
l'article du 21/12/2004
La RFID passe é la vitesse supérieure