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Target Corporation Joins Auto-ID Center
In January Target Corporation joined the Auto-ID Center's Board of Overseers. Target Corp. is
engaged in general merchandise retailing. The Company's store brands include Target, Marshall
Field's and Mervyn's. The Company operates 978 Target locations, 267 Mervyn's locations, and 64
department store locations throughout the U.S. In early 2000 target.direct, the direct
merchandising and electronic retailing organization of Target Corporation, was formed. Target
Corporation also owns Associated Merchandising Corporation (AMC), which sources the high
quality apparel and hardlines merchandise for the company.
Symbol Technologies, Inc. joins Technology Board In January
Symbol Technologies joined the Auto-ID Center Technology Board. Symbol Technologies, Inc.
develops, manufactures, sells and services scanner-integrated mobile and wireless information
management systems that consist of mobile computing devices, wireless local area networks
(WLAN), bar code reading devices, network appliance devices, peripheral devices, software and
programming tools. The Company's systems are designed to provide solutions to customer-
specific needs in information transactions. They are used in a variety of applications, from
collecting information at remote locations and transmitting information between these locations
and the user's central data processing facility, to facilitating e-commerce transactions by accessing
and collecting price and product information at the point of activity for storing or placing orders via
the Internet. Several Symbol devices also connect wirelessly to WANs.
Next Auto-ID Academic Alliance Planned
The first meeting of the Auto-ID Academic Alliance was held in
Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 10, 2001. Academics
from Universities throughout the world met to discuss the
future of RFID technologies and the status of their research.
Building on the success of the first Alliance meeting, the Auto-
ID Academic Alliance will continue to broaden its connections
to RFID research and academic institutions worldwide.
Meetings will be held three times a year, with global diversity
in the location of each meeting. The next meeting will take
place late in the spring. For more information contact Helen
View the meeting minutes and presentation from the December 10, 2001 meeting.
EPC Alliance Europe Scheduled for March
The EPC Alliance is made up of nonprofit trade body organizations with 10 members or more. The
Alliance works as a committee, looking at the applications of the EPC for their specific
constituency. Members include such diverse groups as retail, food marketing, grocery
manufacturers, chain drug stores, convenience stores, textile services, healthcare and
"I am proud and honored to be associated with the Auto-ID Center's project as the co-chair of its
EPC Alliance group. The EPC Alliance Europe brings a global perspective to the project that will
ensure the technology meets industry standards in the U.S and worldwide", states Joy Nicholas,
Vice President of Research and Emerging Technologies for the Food Marketing Institute and co-
Chair of the EPC Alliance North America. She goes on to say: "It is critical for the European
Alliance to come together to ensure all operational and consumer issues are being addressed in a
collaborative way for the markets in which their members operate. Working together, both groups
will provide invaluable input and support to the Auto-ID Center to ensure the enormous potential
of this technology is realized throughout the supply chain around the world."
The EPC Alliance Europe has been created to ensure that European partners are kept apprised of
the Center's work, and that business issues and requirements directly relating to countries in
Europe are addressed.
The first meeting of the EPC Alliance Europe will be held in Paris, France on March 19, 2002, at the
Hyatt Hotel at Charles de Gaulle Airport. There is a group dinner scheduled for the evening of the
18th. Any European non-profit organizations wishing to participate should contact Helen Duce
Healthcare Standards Workshop Planned for April 9, 2002
Because of such overwhelming interest and enthusiasm from the healthcare community, the Auto-
ID Center is creating a focus group to look at medical and healthcare field applications for
Automatic Identification Standards. Academic leaders, along with healthcare focused sponsors, are
helping to plan the first healthcare standards workshop.
"The importance of auto-id technology to healthcare should not be underestimated or taken
lightly", states Steven D. Schwaitzberg MD, Director of Surgical Research, Tufts University School
of Medicine. He goes on to say: "Creating standards and methods through which important
information can be analyzed and utilized will allow a far less chaotic system of healthcare to
emerge. It is not just efficiencies of healthcare delivery that is at stake, but quality of care as well.
Judicious application of all of the components of this technology will lead to exciting possibilities in
the healthcare arena in the years to come."
The first workshop is planned for April 9, 2002 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Details for this
workshop will be made available later this month. If you are interested in attending the workshop,
please email Brooke@mit.edu
What do companies need to be doing now to take advantage of
Get ready. Learn, think, and plan. Planning should include preparing to commit resources and
spend money. Getting into Auto-ID will entail millions of dollars of investment over the next few
years, and that should be in your plans so you can move fast if you decide you want to.
How would you rank this initiative within the various other
initiatives the industry is undertaking to improve efficiencies,
such as collaborative planning & forecasting, centralized
catalogues, and global exchanges?
Auto-ID is an enabling technology for pretty much everything else companies are doing in
Business-to-Business IT right now. Technologies like B2B Exchanges focus on sharing data - Auto-
ID is about capturing that data in the first place. These things go hand in hand. Capturing the data
is fundamental, but so is doing something useful with it once you have it.
What should trade partners be thinking about to take advantage
of this concept?
One thing trading partners should do is look for win-win places to start using the technology.
Where do you begin? What's the easiest or most valuable application to prioritize? Another thing
to consider is what data do you want to share with partners? What do you want to keep secret?
Secrecy is a natural instinct for many companies, but data often increases in value by an order of
magnitude if it is shared between enterprises.
If you look out five years what will the supply chain look like if
the Auto-ID concept is successful? What are biggest obstacles the
industry and trading partners will have to overcome to take
advantage of this opportunity?
If Auto-ID is successful, the first change will be that we will actually know what the supply chain
looks like for the first time. Today there is more guesswork, assumption and projection than most
people realize. Once we know what it looks like, we can see how and why we should make it look
different. Other changes: transaction costs will be reduced, lead times for manufacture and
delivery will get shorter, inventory will go down, customer availability will go up. There will be
more accountability, and with that, more security, safety and traceability. We will wonder how we
ever managed before. In 5-10 years, whole new ways of doing things will emerge and gradually
become commonplace. Expect big changes. The obstacles that exist in individual companies will be
all the usual suspects that get in the way of innovation and that cause even the biggest and best
to falter: an inability to take on new thinking, a fear of change, an unwillingness to take risks and
make decisions, procrastination. These are the things to watch out for, always.
If you have any questions please go to: http://www.autoidcenter.org/questions.asp
Research Associates (Senior Research Associate), Auto-ID Centre
Research Associates will be given specific responsibilities for research deliverables in the above
areas as well as contributing more broadly to a growing research team at Cambridge. A significant
part of the role would involve collaborating with the MIT research team and interacting with
industrial partners. A suitable background would include a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence (esp. Multi
Agent Systems), Control Systems or Software Engineering along with 2-3 years industrial
experience, but other relevant backgrounds would also be considered. Experience with Java
programming and object oriented methods in general would be a significant advantage, as would
be experience with both theoretical and applied aspects of distributed control systems.
Demonstrated project management skills are highly desirable and the ability to undertake and
deliver self directed work essential. View the job description and further information.
Ph.D. Candidates, Auto-ID Centre Europe
Ph.D. candidates are sought to work on theoretical issues linked to the language and distributed
decision making needs associated with developing Auto-ID based control systems. Candidates will
also have access to state of the art laboratory and industrial automation facilities to illustrate the
scope of these developments, and will work closely with industrial sponsors in these
demonstrations. The candidates should have a strong undergraduate degree in Industrial,
Electrical, Electronic or Control Engineering or Computer Science with ideally either a Master's
Degree or suitable industrial experience. View the job description and further information.
Integrating the Electronic Product Code (EPC) and the Global
Trade Mumber (GTIN)
Dr. David L. Brock, Co-Director, Auto-ID Center - Nov 2001
The Electronic Product Code (EPC) was conceived as a means to identify a physical object. These
include not only retail products, but also containers, packages and shipments, as well as more
general physical systems, assemblies and components. The EPC is a short, simple and extensible
code designed primarily for efficient referencing to networked information. The Uniform Product
Code (UPC) and its numbering superset, the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), perform a similar
function for product identification and supply chain logistics. There are, however, many important
differences in objective, scope, structure and implementation of these coding methods. This paper
explores the differences in approach and presents a method for integrating the EPC and GTIN.
MIT-AUTOID-WH-004 415 kb
Towards the 5� tag
Professor Sanjay Sarma, Research Director, Auto-ID Center - Nov 2001
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems consist of readers, also called interrogators, and
tags, also called transponders. This paper deals with RFID tags. Specifically, we deal with IC-
based (integrated circuit based), passive, packaged RF tags with 64 bits of read-only memory.
Today, tags cost upwards of 50�, but there is great demand for low-cost RF tags. The specified
target of 5� tags is theoretically unattainable with today's approach. The objective of this write-up
is to describe the components of the RFID tag, and to explain how the cost of the system can be
reduced to 5� tags.
RFID tags are themselves complicated systems, and the design of the optimal RFID tag requires
the careful coordination of IC design, antenna design, manufacturing process engineering, and
paper engineering. It is a careful system-level approach, combined with new technologies and new
approaches that we describe here, that will enable low-cost RFID systems. Low cost RFID tags
cannot be delivered by simply scaling up volumes while using existing technology.
The description presented here is speculative. First, research and development in RFID is an
ongoing activity at the Auto-ID Center and its sponsor companies. As with any research activity,
we can make some educated guesses about the possibilities, and back them up with engineering
reasoning. However, we have not yet achieved that target. Also, some of technologies are
confidential. We cannot therefore describe them in detail. However, we hope to convey the key
ideas, which we believe will enable the first 5� tags.
MIT-AUTOID-WH-006 990 kb
The Reader Collision Problem
Daniel W. Engels, Project Manager, Auto-ID Center - Nov 2001
We introduce the Reader Collision Problem, the problem of allocating frequencies over time to
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag readers such that their interference with one another is
minimized. In RFID systems, an RFID tag reader may interfere with the operation of other readers
in the system. Interference caused by the operation of an RFID reader is referred to as a reader
collision. Reader collisions prevent the colliding readers from communicating with the RFID tags in
their respective reading zones. Therefore, reader collisions must be avoided whenever possible to
ensure proper and timely communication with tags. The task of preventing reader collisions is
referred to as the Reader Collision Problem. We present several centralized global graph-based
formulations and variants of the Reader Collision Problem. Additionally, we present and analyze
several on-line algorithms to solve the Reader Collision Problem.
MIT-AUTOID-WH-007 526 kb
The Compact Electronic Product Code - a 64-Bit Representation of
the Electronic Product Code
Dr. David L. Brock, Co-Director, Auto-ID Center - Nov 2001
The Electronic Product Code (EPC) was conceived as a means to identify all physical objects. The
EPC was intended to be a short, simple and extensible code designed primarily to reference
networked information. A 96-bit Electronic Product Code has been defined; however, the
incremental cost of encoding additional bits on electronic tags prompted the investigation of a
reduced size, or "compact", Electronic Product Code. This paper explores a reduced bit count from
the original 96-bit version of the EPC and proposes a specific 64-bit variant of the Electronic
MIT-AUTOID-WH-008 231 kb
Some articles require registration.
The Little Label with an Explosion of Applications - January, 2002
From bees that seek out landmines to medicine bottles that speak, the 'smart
tag' is beginning to fulfill its astonishing potential - and companies are
Joyce Lo - Program Manager, Business Case Action
Joyce Lo is the Program Manager for the Auto-ID Center's Business Case Action
Group. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Accountancy from the University of
Illinois and is a Certified Public Accountant. Prior to joining the Center, Joyce
spent a number of years as an Information Technology Consultant involved in
SAP implementations, eBusiness strategy, organization development, and project
management. Her most recent experience, as a Project Management Lead,
involved the launch of a large eBusiness Consumer Goods Consortium.
Joyce joined the Auto-ID Center in November 2001. She currently leads the
Business Case Action Group, as chartered, in the development of a series of
Business Cases that will drive the adoption of Auto-ID.
Stan Drobac, Research Consultant
Stan Drobac is a marketing and strategy consultant focused on new technology
businesses. From 1999-2001 he was VP of Business Development at Alien
Technology, where he developed the company's corporate partnering strategy
and market positioning in the display and radio frequency identification (RFID)
fields. From 1990 through 1997, he held senior marketing, engineering and
general management positions with nCHIP,
Inc., a semiconductor packaging and interconnect startup, and with Flextronics
International, a major electronics contract manufacturer.
Earlier, Stan held a variety of IC design, marketing and planning positions with
Honeywell, Fairchild, and Advanced Micro Devices. He has a BSEE from MIT and
an MBA from Harvard.
Noel Eberhardt, Research Consultant
Noel comes to the Auto-ID Center after a long and distinguished career. He
recently retired from Motorola WSSD (Worldwide Smartcard Systems Division),
where he was serving as the VP of Advanced Technology of Indala Corporation.
Noel has also been an integral part of the Mechanical Engineering teams at Hytek
Microsystems, Timex Corporation, Intel Corporation and Litton Guidance &
Controls Systems and is the founder and President of Solectrol Corporation.
Noel's professional career has focused on the design, development, process
development, and manufacturing of electronic packages, i.e., the transformation
of electronic circuit designs into physical, manufactured products. The scope of
products has included airborne and satellite borne computers, industrial
computers, computer memories and power supplies, digital watches, and very
low cost disposable radio frequency electronics. Accomplishments include
numerous commercialized products, assorted inventions, patents (26 issued),
and being included in Intel's museum. Noel's experience also includes
participation in global standards activities in ISO (ISO 15693 RFID tagging) and
IATA (RP1740c airline baggage tagging).
February 5- 7, 2002 - Board of Overseers and Technology Board Meetings, Silicon Valley,
California (Sponsors Only)
March 7, 2002 - Wireless Solutions in Supply Chain Management, Bedford Renaissance Hotel,
City and State
March 19, 2002 - EPC Alliance Europe, Cambridge, England
March 26, 2002 - Daniel Engels speaking at FMI 2002 Distribution Conference, Orlando, FL
April 2, 2002 - EPC Alliance North America, Washington, DC, USA
April 9, 2002 - Healthcare Workshop, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts
April 23, 2002 - Kevin Ashton speaking at NACS Tech, Dallas, Texas
June 3-5, 2002 - Board of Overseers and Technology Board Meetings, University of Cambridge -
Cambridge, England (Sponsors Only)
November 12-14, 2002 - Board of Overseers and Technology Board Meetings, MIT - Cambridge,
Massachusetts (Sponsors Only)