UCC DENIES REPORT ON COMPETING STANDARDS

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. -- The Uniform Code Council here denied a research group's report that UCC is competing with the ISO group in the development of standards for the new electronic product code.In a wide-ranging interview with SN, Tom Rittenhouse, president and chief executive officer, and Mike Di Yeso, executive vice president and chief operating officer, both of UCC, rejected a claim issued by

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. -- The Uniform Code Council here denied a research group's report that UCC is competing with the ISO group in the development of standards for the new electronic product code.

In a wide-ranging interview with SN, Tom Rittenhouse, president and chief executive officer, and Mike Di Yeso, executive vice president and chief operating officer, both of UCC, rejected a claim issued by the Wireless Data Research Group, San Mateo, Calif., that an obstacle to the development of the new EPC is "competing standard development efforts between AutoID Inc. and the ISO."

AutoID Inc. (now called EPCglobal) is a new organization jointly run by UCC and EAN International to develop standards for, and commercialize, EPC technology. ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland, is a global standards development group responsible for such standards as the magnetic-strip card.

EPC is a new, chip-based, 96-bit digital identification technology being groomed as an eventual successor to the bar code. It is contained on RFID (radio frequency identification) tags attached to product packaging, and read by nearby RF readers. EPCglobal has established an Implementation Task Force to oversee EPC standards development.

"Our bar code went through the ISO process, and RFID will probably go through the ISO process," said Rittenhouse.

"We want the Implementation Task Force to be an inclusive process," said Di Yeso. "We have encouraged folks at ISO who want to help us harmonize protocols to be part of the Task Force." UCC participates in ISO as a secretariat on ISO committees.

"At the end of the day, we are trying to get this technology to market and drive mass adoption, and the only way to do that is to have an inclusive process," added Di Yeso.

UCC hopes that the EPC will be employed by vertical industry segments outside of the retail and CPG industries, such as health care, high technology and the public sector. Such cross-industry participation would prevent "religious wars over whose standard will win," noted Di Yeso. UCC as an organization has actively courted those industries in recent years, notably with its acquisition of RosettaNet for setting B2B trading standards in high-tech manufacturing.

Di Yeso issued a call for participation in the Implementation Task Force at the EPC Symposium in Chicago last month (SN, Sept. 22, 2003, Page 61). He said EPCglobal has been asking participants in the Implementation Task Force to sign memorandums indicating "they understand the guidelines and rules." The Task Force has been subdivided into Action Groups, including the User Action Group, Hardware Action Group, Software Action Group, and Privacy and Security Action Group. The co-chairs of the User Action Group are Erwin Veer, global RFID coordinator, Ahold; and Mike O'Shea, director, corporate Auto-ID/RFID, Kimberly-Clark.

EPCglobal's standards efforts are focused on the tags and readers that form the heart of the RF-based EPC identification system. Standards will also be set for the message formats that link readers with back-office PCs and Web-based servers further up the supply chain pipeline. Di Yeso said at the EPC Symposium that it would take between 12 and 18 months to establish standards.

EPCglobal is using specifications outlined in Version 1.0 of the EPC Network as a framework for standards development. Version 1.0 will be publicly available online on Nov. 1, said UCC.

Di Yeso said six companies have expressed interest in implementing the Object Naming Service (ONS), an automated networking service that will match each EPC to information held on a server about the item.

The Auto-ID Center, Cambridge, Mass., the developer of the EPC, officially transitions into EPCglobal and Auto-ID Labs (for research) at the end of this month. At the last Board of Overseers meeting of the Auto-ID Center later this month in Japan, a formal set of privacy guidelines for EPC technology implementations will be released.