RFID developments aim to boost flexibility and facilitate roll-outs

Radio frequency identification systems featured heavily at this year's CeBit trade show, with a dedicated exhibition area for the supply chain technology.

Radio frequency identification systems featured heavily at this year's CeBit trade show, with a dedicated exhibition area for the supply chain technology.

SAP and Intel announced a joint effort to make RFID technology easier to use and help  companies overcome common hurdles in creating a business case for RFID implementation.

The collaboration aims to help users that are either integrating their RFID hardware directly into back-end systems and business processes, or using device management partners to manage their hardware environment.

According to SAP, direct integration provides a streamlined approach and is suited to less complex business environments. Using a device management partner approach enables the user to manage a more complex environment comprising multiple device types from different suppliers.

T-Systems demonstrated logistics systems for the automotive industry based around RFID services. The Deutsche Telekom subsidiary showed how RFID could be deployed to ensure the flow of parts and containers kept pace with production goals.

RFID reader manufacturer Symbol launched a device that supports the European ETSI 302-208 standard. The XR480 also supports Generation2 dense-reader mode operation, which offers the flexibility to support the European standard as it evolves, the company said.

The European Commission used CeBit to launch a major European-wide consultation into the use of RFID technology. Viviane Reding, the EU information society and media commissioner, said the consultation would include input from industry, governments and the general public.

Reding acknowledged that there were privacy fears among members of the public when it came to using RFID wireless tags in products, but she suggested these fears were overblown.

"RFID tags are far more clever than traditional barcodes. They are the precursors of a world in which billions of networked objects and sensors will report their location, identity and history," Reding said.

"These networks and devices will link everyday objects into an 'internet of things' that will greatly enhance economic prosperity and the quality of life. But as with any breakthrough, there is a possible downside: in this case, the implications of RFID for privacy.

"This is why we need to build a society-wide consensus on the future of RFID, and the need for credible safeguards. We must harness the technology and create the right opportunities for its use for the wider public good."

However, she added that the consultation would address "reasonable fears" that the public could have about RFID use.

Reding said one of the main aims of the consultation would be to encourage interoperability between RFID systems used in Europe and those elsewhere, including in North America, which has seen the widest RFID use so far.

The consultation will focus on three main areas: standards, interoperability and privacy. Results are expected to be published online in September.

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